I’m overwhelmed by the radical emotions I come across here. In a day I can start out happy—wake up, turn on taylor swift and mix up my instant coffee with a spoonful of target mint hot chocolate mix (thanks katie!) and powdered milk. After only a few hours I’m fuming after being called “la blanche”, “makat”, “nassara” or just “white” over and over if I’m not in my village. I can schedule a meeting and feel great about how much I prepared and how grown up and organized I feel teaching adults, and then no one shows up until an hour after the scheduled time. I can come back from a trip, excited to be home, only to be greeted by “what have you brought me?”. C’est la vie au Cameroon. It’s great here and I’m really happy with my decision to sign up for this adventure, but at times it’s the hardest job I’ve ever had, and I don’t think I’ll truly appreciate my life here until I’m back in the states with the glow of computer screen across my face instead of the hot African sun.
Since the last time I wrote I’ve done so much, so let me catch you up. My last post was for valentine’s day and since then I’ve had a boyfriend for a record breaking 6 months! For those who can’t “Facebook stalk” Matt’s his name and he’s from Nashville, TN. He’s a community economic development volunteer in a village called Bangangté which takes me 2 hours to get to on the best of days which is rare. He went to school in Florida for business and grills a mean steak. I’m a lucky gal. My parents got to meet him when they came for a week to see my village, along with all my friends and colleagues and even another mom and dad who were in town visiting my friend Max. They were the guests of honor at a party I organized with all my best friends, teachers and elites of Bandenkop. The women made different dishes so my parents could taste everything in one sitting. Speeches were made, fighter whisky was drunk, and the first rain fell of the rainy season. On the last day I took my parents to a “resort” on a lake owned by a french millionaire where they got to sail with my friend, Henri, who is a french volunteer who also lives in Bangangté. On our way to the airport we got stopped by gendarmes and had to pay a bribe, and once in the city we got lost in the maze of tiny roads and taxi traffic that we almost didn’t make our flight. But we did. And I had a first class seat all the way to Italy!
My parents and I spent 4 days in Cinque Terre—a beautiful area made up of 5 fishing villages. We stayed in manarola with a view of the sea out the window and a giant checkerboard painted on the sidewalk before the beach. I ate pasta, pizza or seafood for almost every meal and wine with almost every meal. Good wine. Not boxed Penasol. Everything was pretty and clean, and people looked so classy I tried to hide the fact that most my clothes come from kilo bags of used clothing sold on a blanket in the markets of Cameroon. We walked a lot, ate a lot of gelato, rode trains and boats and took a million pictures. We spent a day in Piza and took the necessary pictures and I bought a tilted mug for Matt with the tower of Piza for a handle. Next stop was Florence. We visited the Uffizi art gallery and I saw all the art pieces I’d studied in college. It was incredible. Before getting on the plane I went grocery shopping with my mom and we stuffed my suitcase full of edible souvenirs. I hugged my parents hard and left the next morning before anyone in Italy was awake and headed for the airport. The brussels airlines angles saw that I had ridden first class to get there so they upgraded both legs of my trip back to Cameroon. The plane was completely new—complete with a reclining massage chair, personal tv with new movies I hadn’t even heard of yet. I drank champagne for hours and watched 3 movies. I could have lived on that plane..
Back in Cameroon I went back to post for a week and was completely depressed. It had been to much. I missed my parents, hot showers, soft beds and customer service. After locking myself in my house all week, only leaving to teach my classes, I left for Bangagnté and hosted a party at matt’s apartment to cook all the Italian food I’d brought back. I even managed to bring a couple bottles of wine. Everyone was happy and it reminded how much I love being here.
Shortly after that I got the news that I had been chosen to be Greeter for the new training group coming June 1. I’d applied in December, and had been following up for months. I really wanted this position every since we arrived in Cameroon and had 2 volunteers to grill about life in Africa and get us pumped up for our next two years. I helped with planning their 3 months of training these past two weeks with a handful of other volunteers who applied for the job. Now I’m back at post for my last week of school. I’m going to Bafang for Saturday to have a sushi and kimchi party with a fellow graphic design volunteer, Kalika, and then off to the airport in Yaoundé to greet the newbies!
I’m really glad it’s summer. I have a lot of ideas and I don’t have to teach kiddos so I expect to be a lot less stressed 🙂 I’ll try and be better at blogging. Bear with me. I missed you guys.