computers in bandenkop

The computers arrived in Douala (the port city and economic capital of Cameroon) in mid-December after one long month of shipping. Once they arrived, the port held them asking for more money even though we had letters from the head of Peace Corps Cameroon, the US Ambassador and other “big people” asking for exoneration. We unhappily paid and transported the computers to the University in Tombel, a village outside of Douala. I arrived in Tombel to pick up my portion of the computer shipment (50 machines!) early January. Once I arrived a friend of the university organized a travel bus to transport my computers from Tombel to Bandenkop. This turned out to be the worst day of my life.

Just out of Tombel the driver filled the empty seats with one too many passengers even though I had paid for the whole bus. Also, the driver didn’t have his license on him so when the police stopped him at the first stop out of Tombel so we waited over an hour and a half for the driver to try and talk the gendarme into letting us pass with only a bribe. He was refusing for so long, because allegedly this same driver had driven through this stop before fleeing the police. We were finally allowed to leave after the driver bribed him with 20,000cfa ($40) when the typical bribe to pass is 500-1000cfa.

We continued on and dropped off the other passengers before turning off the paved road to head to my village. The sun was starting to go down, and I was beginning to get very nervous. When we entered my village I took a big sigh of relief, it was dark, the computers had been bumping around for an hour on the dirt roads, and I had been alone with the terrible driver guy. I was waving to all my friends in the center of town as we passed. We took the small road that leads to my house. We were just minutes away when the tire blew on a rock. The driver started cussing in his village language and french. I was so tired, dirty and frustrated. He hadn’t traveled with a spare. I couldn’t believe it. I ran back to the center and found my friend with a car asking if he knew where we could find a spare tire, but it was already pitch black night.

My friend ended up taking another teacher and me in his car. We pulled up to the broken down bus, and my friends started to yell at the driver about how irresponsible he was. I was so happy to have back-up. We loaded as much as we could into his suv and dropped it off minutes down the road at my house. We finished it all in 2 loads and I thanked them with beer money. I carried each computer into my house and set all 50 up like my house was a giant cyber cafe. In the morning I began matching up cables, mice and keyboards, and while I was working there was a knock on the door. The driver was there, he said he had slept in the bus and woke up early to find the new tire. He was headed to Bafoussam and just wanted to say goodbye.

I invited the 3 other ICT volunteers in the West region over with promises of cooking chicken and blueberry muffins if they would come over and help me re-install the OS on some laptops and turn on and troobleshoot all 20 of the desktops. We worked all day and next morning and had an MLK day feast in between. I couldn’t have been more grateful for my friends here.

Distribution day was a few days later. Power had been out for one week so I couldn’t get pictures like I’d wanted. (SORRY!) But I’ve begun taking pictures of the computers in their new homes. Here are just a few: a teacher at my school, the school treasurer, and the kids (my students) playing with MS Paint on the computer bought by one of my adult class students.

Thanks again so much for your donations and support. I will post up more pictures as they come.

sounds of cameroon

This past week a carpenter came to the house with the owner who lives in Yaoundé to put shutters and glass in the windows. This is a great thing and I’m no longer freezing to the bone at night, but there was something to sleeping in the “open air”. Just before the sun would completely disappear, i could hear the little squeaks of bats flying by—finally leaving their comfy spots in the trees outside of my house. The squeaks build just until it gets completely black and they’ve all left for hunting.

In the morning I would wake up to sounds of little birds playing in the trees, big birds landing on my thin tin roof, and annoying roosters waking up the village. Every now and then Eric, the guardian of the house, would chop wood, and Rocky, the always-tied-up guard dog, would cry for attention or breakfast. Now that the windows are closed up, i am more aware of the sounds in my own house. Moths that fly against walls and make tapping sounds, though my least favorite is when they trap themselves in plastic bags which give a sound of a louder animal than what they really are. Now in the rainy season, i can hear when the wind pushes hard just before giving way to rain. The tin roof expands above my head and creaks as it lowers back down, then little taps begin followed by the juiciest rain drops slamming on the tin and causing me to turn off any movie or music that was playing and open a book.

The other sounds of village life are more man made. Moto’s can be heard from a mile away with their revving engines and family of passengers holding on tight. Cars make a different sound as they avoid the cracks of the dirt road and bounce around the huge crevaces left behind when the rains take away the dirt in little rivers. Every now and then music will be blasting from one of the boutiques or Ma Josienne’s restaurant, but usually this is on special occasions. Village life is rather quiet. During the school year, a traditional dance group practices every wednesday with the wooden xylophones that you can hear from across the village.

In the cities, the day starts early with the hustle and bustle of taxis and zooming motos honking, trying to take their fair-share of the road. Honking is its own language here. A honk can mean many things. When a taxi rolls up to someone standing on the side of the road he honks to say “Hey! I’ve got open spots in the back! You in?” then the person tells him his/her destination. If this fits into the taxi man’s predetermined route, he honks “OK”. If not he just drives off. If yes the client yells his price and the taxi man honks in accordance or again, just drives off. A honk means you’re passing someone on the left, it also means “Hey Idiot! You’re going too slow!”. For passing taxi’s it often means “Hello”, and for cars who take the mountains to villages like mine, honking means “Hey, I’m a taxi and I’m coming around this here corner.”

People on the sides of the road are shuffling off to school or work, or selling things like bananas, french bread with an assortment of things to stuff inside it for breakfast. The mama’s kiss, hiss and snap to get your attention. Music begins blaring at 7 if you’re lucky, but if it’s a church day its earlier and lasts all day. Friends pass each other and shake hands with a snap at the end. It’s like a secret handshake in the States, but here it’s expected and extremely hard to perfect.

When people are annoyed here, they make a sound like clicking in their mouth while they shake their head, or just look away annoyed. When people clear their throats they don’t hawk loogies like americans, they do the opposite of swallowing air. With their mouths closed they pull whatever in the back of their throat out with making a equally gross guttural sound like hawking. When mama’s are surprised or happy, they yell a sing songy “hey hey HEY heyyy” or just the short “HEY heyyyy”. At night the mama’s chat while the charcoal grills are crackling with fish, prunes and plantains, while at home the fire crackles with the three stone wood fires boiling sauces and rice.

For as nice as the quiet is here, cameroonians are noiseaholics. The music blasts until speakers and ear drums are broken. Yelling is the normal volume for conversation. Radios, music and televisions play usually without people’s full attention. Bars one after another have their own speakers with their own music playing at the same time, and too loud for conversation. Promotional vans drive by yelling with megaphones or speakers strapped to the top about phone plan deals or lottery chances. Cities are full of noise. I prefer my village life. It’s also rare that I walk around or travel with my ipod, because I like to pick up on the sounds, or bask in the few moments of silence.

silence is beautiful sometimes.

markets of cameroon

The markets in Cameroon are like the wrinkles on your hand—intersecting lines crossing the middle and escaping to the edges. A maze essentially, but a maze you come to know well with experience that rarely, or never, changes. My first experience in the market was exciting. I had been in Bafia for a week or two and Mama Lydie, my host mom, hopped on the moto behind me squeezing me into the driver in front. I felt completely safe. We got off in the center of town and mama Lydie grabbed my purse and swung it around to my front and told me to cover it with my hands and guard it well. We walked through the small paths enclosed on the sides by rickety wooden stands holding tomatoes, peppers, dried fish, and other colorful products I had never seen before. Tucked in the middle of the market was a small building filled with freezers and an overwhelming stink of fish. Our outing lasted 15 minutes tops and I was relieved I got to see the inside of a market without getting robbed.

The Bafia market is relatively small, which makes sense for its village size. After finishing training in Bafia, the group of pcvs heading to the west packed up their things and a bus dropped us off in the regional capital, Bafoussam. From here we all went our individual ways—some to big villages like Bafia, others to small cities, and the rest headed to tiny villages like Bandenkop. In Bandenkop there’s no market to buy household things so my shopping was to be done before arriving to post. I made my list of what I thought was essential (looking back this list is a little embarrassing) and I had asked the language trainers what prices to try for. I set out into “Marché A”, the larger market in Bafoussam, with my purse in front and my list out and ready to cross things off. Every “aisle” had something I needed, but every aisle further I went the more lost I became. I was so overwhelmed by people in their boutiques on either side of me yelling “ma cherie!” or “what are you looking for?” “Asso! Asso!” “ooh look at la blanche” and pointing to their friends. It was more attention than I’d ever had in my life.

I couldn’t let them know I was lost. I asked someone at a boutique where to find sheets. All the sheets were mix n’match so I demanded to only see matching sets. Having a goal made me more confident since I was loosing composure with all this overwhelming attention. I needed to seem confident or I wasn’t getting out alive. The only matching set I came across had gigantic cat faces on everything. I laughed as though it was too ridiculous to buy and he’d better make me a good price if I was going to buy cat sheets (though I fell in love at first sight and knew I had to sleep on them every night). With the help of every 10 boutiques I found my way out of the mass of stands, and took a deep breath of air when I finally found an opening to the streets with my hands full of housewares.

I’ve now been back to that market 50+ times, and have memorized the inner-workings of its’ alleys and paths. Maybe one day I’ll make a map—or just a guide—if you’re looking for fabric go two levels in from the corner with the super market, pass the women selling honey and palmist oil, go up the second set of stairs, pass the police station and take a left for pagne and a right for western fabrics and jeans. What, you want to find traditional things? Enter the market from the side, across from the quincailleries, not the first opening where they sell school books, and not the third where they’re selling cell phones, but the middle opening. At the first level you will run into the man who sells beaded jewelry and nice wooden masks. You can buy bows and arrows from his neighbor there, but if you take a left down the alley, a nice man sells dyes, and other ground up natural medicinal plants as well as old painted masks and traditional clothes. The frippery with used clothing is the entire back side of the market, just past the produce, where you can find curtains and bedding as well.

The best thing about the market in Cameroon is that everyone will help you. If you ask anyone they will either take you to their brother who sells it, or direct you with a point, and when you get lost again you just ask someone new. Bargaining is my other favorite part of visiting the market. There’s many different strategies people employ, but I’ll let you know the best strategies I know and use. First, go in knowing what a good price is for what you want to buy. If you need to ask a local outside of the market before going in, or at least someone who is not next to the mama you’re buying from. The other strategy involves a little studying. After pointing out what you want, looking it over and thoroughly examining whether or not it will fulfill your job, bring up that you live in a village or at least know a village language. If you know one greeting in this language you will make the seller laugh and tell their friends. Becoming a spectacle for a few minutes is a small price to pay to have the seller give you a great price. Lastly, always start with a lower price than what you want it to end at. If they give you a “white-man-price” divide it by three and start bargaining below that. Never get too attached to what you want to buy because there are other stands with the same product and the “walk-away” strategy is the best last-resort strategy there is.

Market in tiny villages is much different than the city markets. In Bandenkop there is Market Day, which falls on every 8th day. This makes no sense for us Westerners, but the market is still based on the old traditional calendar of the Bamiléké tribe, which had 8 days. Bandenkop’s market day falls the day after Bapa’s, it’s neighbor village, and three days after Batie’s. All of which are based on this old calendar. Bandenkop has only 2000 villagers, but our market is extremely impressive. It’s not unusual that I stumble upon anglophones who have traveled from Bamenda to sell their products in the West market days. Ours is an agricultural village so many mama’s have blankets laid out or bamboo tables filled with their harvest. There’s an old man who weaves market bags from raffia with one or two other colors. Frip clothes are even cheaper here, with t-shirts at 200cfa and socks at 100cfa. Usually shirts are 500cfa which is about $1. Bapa has a larger population, and the Swiss even helped build a new covered marketplace, though on market day it’s difficult to find more than tomatoes. No one knows why this is.

Marché Mokolo is the largest market in West Africa by square footage, with the largest frippery in Africa. This market is located in Yaoundé, the political capital of Cameroon. Mokolo is still a scary experience for me. The alleys are narrower than any other market I know, and the sellers are not shy about grabbing your arms to pull you into their stands. The last time I went I literally hugged my purse the whole time and was still scared it would get stolen. The amount of people inside the mass of boutiques is overwhelming for the little space there is. Goods are creatively presented climbing the highest of the existing walls—up is the only place to go. You can find anything you’d ever want to look for, though the prices in the city are much higher than Bafoussam or the villages. Rows of high heeled shoes of every color and every height shine on blankets, while the best in Yaoundé fashions hang on hangers in the boutiques behind with zebra leggings and a skin tight neon club dress is presented on a white mannequin. Short and fat ties are all the rage here, and t-shirts with offensive sayings or funny errors that didn’t make the cut in America or Europe are being sold at “high” prices. Grills for fish and meat are sold just around the corner and down the road men are auctioning off used clothes from the back of a truck for pennies. As long as you watch your back, the markets are the most exciting places.

Matt and Preston buying chickens from the market for last year’s Thanksgiving

thoughts on freedom

In lieu of our country’s independence, here are some thoughts on freedom:

The really important kind of freedom involves attention and awareness and discipline, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them over and over in myriad petty, unsexy ways every day. That is real freedom. That is being educated, and understanding how to think. The alternative is unconsciousness, the default setting, the rat race, the constant gnawing sense of having had, and lost, some infinite thing.
-david foster wallace

-I take the only desire one can really permit oneself. Freedom, Alvah, freedom.
-You call that freedom?
-To ask nothing. To expect nothing. To depend on nothing.
-What if you found something you wanted?
-I won’t find it. I won’t choose to see it. It would be part of that lovely world of yours. I’d have to share it with all the rest of you—and I wouldn’t.
The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand

The DFW quote is my favorite quote that I saved on my computer and open up to read every now and again, and is the contrary to the other. For a depressed guy he was truly inspiring. I’m reading the Fountainhead right now, and I’m really loving it. Its written according to the philosophy of Objectivism by Ayn Rand that says many things, but one of which is that the pursuit of one’s own happiness is the “proper moral purpose of one’s life.”

My philosophy, in essence, is the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute.
—Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged

I don’t know if I believe this philosophy, but the book is extremely interesting, and is on the subject of architecture and design with one character designing buildings at their simplest forms and logical layouts, while the popular architect designs for the clients adding unnecessary adornments to facades and layouts to provoke discussion with no real use. It’s great so far and I roped my architect friend and old roommate into reading it with me.

I’ve been reading a lot lately, because I’ve been in village trying to conserve on my internet hours, as well as the fact that this July I gave myself a crazy schedule. Each Tuesday and Thursday I’m giving adult computer classes to people who have never touched a computer. Each Wednesday I’m teaching anyone who wants to come to my house starting with how to make tofu, block soap and powdered soap, paper &fabric beads, Batik (fabric dying with wax), and then Matt is coming for the last week to give an Intro to Business class. So far a lot of interest, and yesterday I accidentally worked on my computer for HOURS making a computer game on Flash so the adults can practice clicking and stuff. It felt good to be working on design projects again.

I also talked a woman in Yaoundé into giving a small class of fabric dying so I can better teach it in my village. She makes beautiful fabric and I bought way too much the last time I came to town. She’s a wonderful lady, named Charlotte and we had a good time dying our own fabric which are now skirts. Enjoy the pics!

Also, I recently got my first weave put in. Let me say, it really takes a village. I think everyone got to do at least one braid. Not really, but as people passed they would stop and talk or stop and braid a few and then continue on shouting “Du courage!” as they left. Some people laughed, and some people told me I looked more than beautiful. My main braiders were Mama Marie and Fanou, the 7 year old sister of Ingrid and daughter of Honorine. They laughed when I maid faces from pain and continued on until 3 packages of fake hair were tied onto my scalp. It turned out nice for a weave on a white girl, and I plan on leaving it in for 2 months and never doing it again. It’s 4 days later and my head still hurts.

Lastly, I got the best surprise in the mail the other day. The post office here is a joke, and I’d been trying to get my mail for weeks. The guy with the key is always out, or they’ve closed early or opened late in the day on purpose so I can’t get my mail. Finally I went a few days ago for my long awaited package, and they gave it to me! I was hoping it was the package of art for my students from the Art Exchange that I had them participate in, but when she opened the door and I saw it wasn’t an envelope, I knew my package had gotten lost in the mail like I’d thought and was disheartened. I took the package and tilted it up so the mouse holes didn’t drop anything out of them. I looked at the name and didn’t recognize it, and went straight to the office to open it.

I cut open the box and saw a letter on top of a pile of wonderful things. The letter was written by a women who follows my adventures in Africa through this blog, and had included some gifts for my students and myself. I immediately used my new burt’s bees, ate my chocolate, went home and lit my new candle. I knew I needed to update my blog since it’s been over a month and THANK this Kansas mama! Life in Cameroon gets to be life in Kansas really quick. I began with a lot of energy and inspiration, and slowly lost adrenaline and reverted to my normal ways in America. Bandenkop has become my new “small town” with it’s small town life and small town conversations, garden growing, from-scratch cooking, and chickens running around. The only difference is that I’m speaking french or patois, and rocking chairs don’t exist. It’s a shame. It’s nice and necessary to get inspiration from people, and it was just what I needed to get my head back into the swing of things. I only have a year left and I have ideas I haven’t even started on!

I also love any opportunity to hear from people back home. My good friend here who teaches at the primary school grows sunflowers in her garden. I have no idea where she got the seeds but they make me so happy to see them. Keep those Kansas reminders coming. I miss you friends and family, and I’ll be coming home soon enough. Don’t forget me.


this ain’t summer camp


I’ve never been one to miss people when I travel or move cities. Even when I was little and went to summer camp and all the homesick kids would cry at night with the counselors assuring them that everything would be OK and they would see their parents in just a couple weeks. My parents would also get mad at me for never writing them back. The older I get the more I realize how lucky I am for the family I have and how much I never want to lose them.

Today I woke up and fixed pumpkin pancakes and peppermint tea and sat down to a colossal crossword puzzle my parents sent me from the christmas paper. I worked on it for about an hour making a good dent in the 1500+ word puzzle, all the while reminiscing on the mornings I spent living in Chicago riding the L to work with my uncle. We would grab a Red Eye at the entrance of the station, board the train, take off our gloves and set to work finishing the crossword before our arrival downtown. Uncle Peter would always finish the crossword and the sudoku, even on Fridays when it was the 5 star difficulty. Today is his daughter—my cousin, Dallas’s—birthday, and I had the pleasure of celebrating with them a year ago. We woke her up with a tray of hot cinnamon rolls and a computer screen with Skype open and her big sister on the screen to wish her happy birthday from Colorado. I got to spend the beginning of her teenage years with her, and I’m better because of it.

On the other side of the crossword puzzle were locals’ stories of christmas eve traditions and memories. Since college, I haven’t had a consistent christmas in the states. I’ve spent christmas in India with one of my best friends from high school, Artee, and her family who are hindus. It was still one of the best experiences I’ve ever had in my life and I probably owe my acceptance to the Peace Corps to her. Another Christmas was spent in warm Australia in my bathing suit scanning the great barrier reef and trying desperately to not to be obvious to my parents and little brother as I batted my eyes at the aussie instructors. Babes, all of them. This year I was in Bangangté, Cameroon with 40 other volunteers in a small apartment with a chimney (the reason for the location of the event). I sewed christmas stocking with children in my village and we cooked a mexican feast and ate on anything that resembled a plate closely enough. We tried our best to recreate the feeling of family and tradition with a christmas tree, ornaments, lights and some decorations my parents sent. Who knows why we crave these things.

My family has always traveled to family’s homes for christmas, but I was lucky enough to have enough “traditional” christmases in my childhood to hold onto. I remember the smell of my grandparents burnt orange carpet in their old home in Shreveport, Louisiana and the sound of the train that went by in the middle of the night. I ate all of the m&m’s in the plastic candy cane holder one year and threw up christmas colors. My grandma used to make a gingerbread house with us grandkids each christmas we spent there, and she always bought the grossest candy—minty gumdrops and off-brand peppermint bites—to decorate the roof and walls—perhaps to keep us from eating all of it. On years we went to Chicago to my dad’s parents we got to have a white christmas. There was even a frozen lake behind the house that we were never allowed to walk on. My uncle Stan, who’s Jewish, would give us gallon bags of dollar store treasures each year and I remember playing with a small plastic hinged man with sticky balls at his hands and feet. We would stick him to the top of a window and he would alternate his feet and hands sticking bending at the middle and tumble down the window. Waiting at the top of the stairs christmas morning, my grandmothers’ cookies and candies, Bing Crosby playing..

I didn’t mean for this post to take a christmas tangent, but I just have these moments here where I see a picture or read something and it makes me hurt with how much I love my family and how lucky I am. I’m constantly surrounded with african culture, tradition, values, etc. Sometimes I wish my mom were here just to let me know things will work out and keep me focused on whats actually important. Right now I’m happy and I know everything will work out, but here is just a list of my past month excitements:

-strep throat
-coxsackie virus
-housing problems- boss finally told me he wants to move me to a village called Bare in the Littoral Region at Easter if I don’t find a house really soon.
-4th annual MLK feast, complete with cheesy biscuits, fried okra, chicken, eggplant, coleslaw, chocolate cake, mashed potatoes, etc.
-new computer lab
-wake-boarded and sailed on a lake by Foumbot
-Tungiasis, pulled 2 sand fleas and a billion babies out from under my toenails last night
-an Elite took me on a moto tour of houses in Bandenkop to try and find one that works!

This is Africa.

child-bearing hips

I can’t believe it’s already august. Right now I’m waiting for 11:30 to roll around to teach my last practical class (the students have an hour of IT every day for theory and 1 day practical using the computer lab). I’m hoping that the other half of the class will get to create email accounts with gmail today. They type so slow which slows things down a lot, and the account forms and security questions are guaranteed to create chaos. “Madame! Madame! I can’t read these squiggly letters!” I’ve grown to really like my kids. I hope they do well on the final exam friday.

I’ve also really gotten comfortable with my host family. We have our routines, and my french has improved so much with their help. They are so patient with me and they’ve taught me so much about the Cameroonian culture and way of life. Their is a way to do everything, even striking matches. I cut plantains like mama lydie, wring my laundry like mama lydie and i’ve practices my slow african woman walk (use a whole lot of hips and walking so slow it almost feels like you might be moving backwards) When I have a basket resting on my child-bearing hips it looks especially convincing.

madam keemberlee

Teaching is the hardest thing I've ever done. My first day of class was a disaster, but it probably could have gone worse. I'm not sure what I was expecting. but it was something along the lines of all the students being just like me, excited to learn about the possibilities that computers can offer with the dispositions and childlike innocence of kindergarteners. My first class was the second period, 9-10. I stepped into the classroom and the students filled in behind me—that is the first custom I discovered, students waiting to enter a classroom until the teacher arrives. I set my things at the little teacher podium in the corner next to the eroded blackboard and took out my chalk. I noticed that my arms had gone numb—this happens when I get nervous about public speaking. I ignored it and pre-broke a long new piece of chalk so I wouldn't have to suffer the embarrassment of it breaking in front of the class from nervous shaking hands.

I ignored my numb arms and continued on with writing on the board my name, Madame Kimberly. I stopped here, thinking my last name was entirely too difficult to try, but after I made the class repeats it they insisted I give them my last name and surprisingly they guessed at the pronunciation and weren't too far off so I added it to the board just under my first name. It didn't matter though because they resorted to the cultural hissing, snapping, and "Madame!" "Madame!" used to get one's attention. I can't say I like it, but I also can't say I haven't used it on the other volunteers. Works like a charm. 

The rest of the class I went through my perfectly planned lesson as the students asked my silly questions and laughed at my pronunciation of things. There was a constant murmur as I wrote notes on the board and as I began answering one question another student would interrupt with a new question. In Cameroon, the student take their note-taking very seriously. They do not take notes ask the teacher speaks, but only if the teacher instructs to take the notes. They are carefully organized and outlined on the far left quarter of the blackboard for each lesson. Throughout the class I was constantly reminding the students to write things down as I dictated them and repeated them slowly. During the whole class, almost every student had a smile on their face like they were on the verge of laughing at me. It was extremely uncomfortable and was the longest hour ever. After the bell sounded one girl asked if she could take my picture, and despite my "no" her and five other kids had taken their phones out to snap a photo of "la blanche". 

Today I was hoping it would be a little better because It was my weekly hours in the computer lab! All the classes I'd observed had been relatively quiet with kids focused on their individual tasks using Word or Excel. I sat in on (IT) Eric's class, the other Premières, and they were perfect—hardly asking any questions and diligently working. I sat with one girl in the back row who was having a hard time moving the mouse over the start button. I then showed her how the keyboard worked which really blew her mind, while the rest of the class typed the lyrics to their favorite song and made words bold, italic, giant and cursive. My class filed in after the bell rang and the hissing snapping madame-ing commenced and didn't stop for a whole hour. Students would call me over just to tell me they'd finished typing something. I impressed myself with my french today—only a couple mistakes that students corrected and less giggling than the first class, but I can tell they're testing me. High school is hard being a student, I never even thought about what the teachers go through. When most of the students left the computer lab the same girl from yesterday asked me if she could take another picture and then showed me that she had changed her background the the paparazzi picture she had taken of me the day before. It made me mad and flattered at the same time. They're testing me and teasing me and laughing at me and analyzing me from my birkenstocks to my blonde curly hair, but I think they like me. I do.
just like summer camp

7/8/11 I got sick again two days ago. Eric and I are trading off I think. When I feel better he gets sick and vis versa. I had to visit the hospital again and the doctor wasn’t in town. The nurses pumped me with meds again through a hand iv and i had to come back at 2 when the doctor would be back. i went home and slept for hours. I hadn’t gotten any sleep the night before because my stomach had blown up like i’d swallowed a soccer ball and every time i rolled over i could hear all the little bubbles switching sides in my tummy. I also was fire-burping non-stop. It was all very attractive. Anyway i came home and slept and then watched pans labyrinth then went back to the hospital, my second home. I can’t help but think that getting sick so much this early is kind of a good thing. I now feel like I have a pretty good hand on how to take care of myself and self-medicate and what to expect from an african hospital. It’s a little scary, but I know it will come in handy. The girls have been all over my laptop lately. I brought it out to watch she’s the man a few nights ago and changed the language to french. It was incredible! I have seen it so many times that i knew the lines, despite them being in french, and Epiphany and I laughed at all the same parts! The cheesy humor of brazillian soap operas and Amanda Bynes go over well in Cameroon it seems. Now every night Patricia asks me if we can watch a movie. I haven’t had a good excuse not to, so I’m already a good chunk into my media folder. I hope my new harddrive arrives soon so I can get the gold mine that is Nate’s media library. He even has the 2 new episodes of true blood!He got 2 packages yesterday filled with all kinds of great things like crayon drawings, recess, necklaces, a beanie baby. I love packages. I feel like PC is a super intense summer camp where everyone else is getting mail but me and the food’s not that great Model School starts next monday. I’ll be teaching Premiere IT and Sixieme Anglais (roughly junior year IT, 6th grade english). I also am the extra curricular activities coordinator! As well as the Co-leader for the Ultimate Frisbee club on wednesdays! Africa needs some Bettys.