So IST is the next big even for us PCV's. IST stands for In-Service Training. It will be the first time I will get to see everyone from my stage (first training group) and each of us volunteers are bringing a colleague to attend the seminars with. The IST location is in Limbé which is a beach town on the coast of Cameroon. It is extremely touristy which all of us couldn't be more excited about because allegedly there is pizza, ice cream and coffee, not to mention a beach for swimming and tanning and other things involving bikinis and suntan lotion. A lot of volunteers are staying after the one week seminar either to climb Mount Cameroon or spend Christmas on the beach.

We also are doing secret santa. I was too late to get in on secret santa so my friend Dan and I are doing un-secret santa and I found him some really cool presents. I honestly feel bad about how good I did with his presents, since I'll probably be getting a tshirt with a misspelled curse word from the Frip or something, but really I like finding presents the most. This year little Dan is getting an awesome african mask carved out of wood, about a foot long and accents of old blue paint. I also got him a traditionally carved ash tray, a slingshot, an 80's teal Frip hat from Waterworld USA and I have mac and cheese and chocolate pudding mixes. Yesterday I hand sewed a stocking from Pagne (african fabric "pon-yuh") and I bought a santa hat to cut off the white fur and sewed it to the opening of the stocking along with red letters from the felt part, D-A-N. I'm going to put some candy inside and a card that I drew in my sketchbook of the JUJU spirit in my village. I'm pretty proud of myself.

I love Christmas, and I've been doing a good job getting in the spirit here in Africa. I had a cold the past couple of weeks, and the dry season has turned this mountain village into a true colorado with freezing nights and beautiful days. In the morning, after sleeping under two blankets, my hoodie with the hood up and thick socks from the market I wake up with teeth chattering. My first action is to go to the kitchen to start my water heating up. I walk to the living room and open my computer and start my christmas playlist. As Bing Crosby echoes off the concrete walls, I fix my mug with mint hot chocolate and fill my bowl with dry oats, sugar and cinnamon. Somedays I watch an episode of the Wonder Years and others I read over my lessons for the day. When I come back home after school and wandering the village running errands I go straight to the computer to turn on the christmas playlist. My school also had some trees cut down around which happened to be pine so i snagged some branches and brought them home to fill the house with that christmas tree smell. 

I gave my friend Honorine a black and white printout of two pictures I took of me and her daughter, Ingrid aka my best friend, wearing santa hats and my raybans. Way cute, and she loved it. I also made a CD with christmas songs that I gave to the wife of the pastor who makes all my clothes, and has a son in my sixieme class who I also tutor on sundays. This past sunday I taught a bunch of christmas vocal, and we listened to christmas music. It was actually fun, and afterward the kids demanded to help me around the house and did my dishes and washed my floors. 

I hope everyone else is getting excited for the holidays. I miss you all!