Ok, so it has been a lot longer since my last post than I wanted, but late me explain. Let’s begin at the beginning.
Before taking off for staging, James stayed the night at my house to help me pack and so that he could see me off at the airport in the morning (my flight was EARLY). We decided to stay up all night since I needed to get up at 3:30am anyway. All was well. We were watching episodes of Dexter and Chuck, talking, I was doing last minute packing and arranging, when all of a sudden my last American dinner (hot dogs-yeah, I know, but I figured I would never have another one for two years) came back up. A few times. I slept all of 30 minutes. In the truck with my parents and James driving to the airport, I began freaking out in earnest. I knew it would come. If it were not for their love, and support, and James’ comforting words I may not have made it.
I am soooo glad that I did!
As soon as I got to Philadelphia, I saw some other future PCVs waiting in the waiting room in the hotel. We started chatting and went out for lunch together. We were all jittery excitement, which lent well for conversation. At that moment, all my reservations disappeared and I felt nothing but excited (and maybe a little nervous about the unknown). What helped was knowing that we were all in this together.
We drove to New York early the next morning, after getting our Yellow Fever shot. I got special treatment as I forewarned the nurses that I am a fainter. I got a special room to lie down in and rest, and the nurse even explained to me what causes fainting and nausea when I’m nervous, it’s called a Vagal response. It was really fascinating. Evidently there is a large nerve running down from our brains all the way down to our stomachs and affects many different organs. No wonder.
They say that if it rains when you first get to Africa, it is a good omen. We were in Yaounde and the sun was shining down on us like a hot July afternoon when on the way to our hotel, it began to rain. Things are looking up!
One of the biggest things to get used to here in Cameroon is that there are not four seasons, but two, and not hot and cold, but dry and rainy. When it rains, it pours intermittently throughout day and night and with the tin roof it’s wonderful, especially when you are sleeping, but annoying when you are trying to listen to a lecture. Not to mention, for some reason, I notice that Cameroonians speak very quietly especially when they are formally addressing you or a crowd. I suppose this is a sign of respect, but being a loud American, I realize that I am partially deaf which does not help when they are speaking African French. People like to see my pictures from back home, especially the ones with snow on the ground, and I like to describe the four seasons to them.
In Bangante where we had our training or “stage” I lived with the Sotche family. The father worked all the time, so I only saw him a couple hours on Sundays, but he was pretty nice. There was the mother, Collette, twin girls who were about 25 named Christelle and Nadine, Diane who is the same age as me, Rosette who is in high school, and little brother Aubin, who is about 10. All the girls were fun and I could tell very strong and smart. The three oldest went to University, which is very impressive here. Aubin, who is also called Carl, explained to me that his whole name is Sotche Aubin Carl and in school his friends call him Sauce Jaune au Bonnes Carottes aka Yellow sauce of the good carrots. hahaha. I love that nickname.
Stage was a lot of fun, and unfortunately it was so long ago I will just summarize by saying that I feel a really strong bond with all my fellow trainees especially the agroforestry group because we spent so much time together. Stage was not as intense as I thought it would be. We had daily classes, but I tested out of my French class after a few weeks and had a lot of free time. Thanksgiving was awesome. The guys butchered two turkeys, and we all split into committees and made mashed potatoes, pies, green beans, salads from our own demonstration plot, stuffing, fruit, you name it. It was a traditional Thanksgiving feast. Afterward we awarded superlatives to each trainee, aka a banana with the prize written in Sharpie. I won “most likely to write a novel about her experiences.” We’ll see.
For swearing in the agros and the health volunteers each chose matching pagne (fabric) to make dresses and shirts, and some went the traditional route and sported cabas and bubus. It was thrilling to say my oath. I was also asked to give a short thank you speech to the host families before our luncheon in French. I was nervous, but I really enjoyed giving it, and I feel that I did a pretty good job on the pronunciation, too! That night we all stayed in a hotel and ‘fete’-ed it up hard-core. It was so hard saying goodbye to these people who’ve been with me and shared the same experiences with me since the beginning of this crazy adventure.
Peace Corps Trainee to Peace Corps Volunteer
On December 3rd, we all moved to our posts. I am posted in Baham which is located in the West region and is only about an hour and a half away from Bangante. My house is A.M.A.Z.I.N.G. I would love to post up all the pictures and video I took, but unfortunately my camera was stolen, just a few days before I got my new laptop. (My old laptop broke after I used it once, something to do with the hard drive.) C’est la vie, or as they say here in Cameroon On va faire comment?
I plan on purchasing a cheap digital camera here as soon as I can afford to, because I just cannot go two years without a camera and it would take way too long to mail one from back home. In the mean time I can snap some photos and video of the house and yard with my web cam.
Well folks, that’s it for now. Will soon post a break down of each month because some really fun stuff has happened and I don’t want to leave anything out!