Friday, November 29, 2013

Baby Birds Becky & Danielle Venture from the Nest…

..and after plunging 127 feet from the top of a tall tree with yellow flowers and white bark, realize their wings do in fact work and start soaring!

But in all seriousness, that is what traveling in Cameroon is like - at least for a type-A, plan-ahead-every-tourist-site-and-meal traveller like me. If you have ever traveled with me (shout out to Laura Vossler who has dealt with it more than most of my travel buddies), you know exactly what I’m talking about. In the past, when I travelled to Amsterdam or to Athens, I have walking tours planned and museums scheduled; I can tell you which three foods we have to try; I know where we’re staying and how we get there from the airport and how much it will cost. I’m not psycho, I swear; it just makes me feel comfortable and relaxed to have a plan.

In Cameroon, you don’t have a plan. You have a destination, and you figure it out along the way. At every step of the trip, I wonder how we’re going to manage the next one. And yet, miracle of miracles… it always just works out. You can’t anticipate how, or when, or why. It make take twice as long as you anticipated, or cost a little more. Yet somehow, IT JUST HAPPENS!

Let me explain.

Home Sweet Home

Before I say anything else, I have to beg your forgiveness for not posting sooner. Mother says: “Everyone has been asking about you! You have to update your blog!” And as usual, mother is right. But in my defense, I wanted to wait until I actually had something to say before I said it!

Me and my community host, Madame
Delphine Nghoko

Never fear, I now have a lot to say.

On Wednesday, we had our big “swearing in” event, when we officially became PCVs (Peace Corps Volunteers). Now, no one can sneeringly refer to us as mere brainless, useless trainees who don’t know what it’s really like to be a volunteer. Now we are officially experts. The administration has declared it so.

Anyway, being a PCV also means the rules have all changed. No 7 p.m. curfew, no no-more-than-one-beer-a-day rule. So what do we do? Throw a rager. And what happens? Bad things: one girl experienced her room being snuck into while she was in it by a strange man who had the keys I guess that justifies all those rules in the first place. I think it’s important to remember that bad things happen everywhere in the world, however, and we just have to deal with them as they happen and afterwards in the best way for each of us individually.

Me and PUPPIES! in my pagne (pronounced
"pon-ya") dress

The party also meant that, the following day when we all began traveling to our posts, there were hangovers abounding. Becoming a PCV does not mean becoming wise after all! I rode a bus loaded with the many, many, MANY belongings of some PCVs traveling to the West, North West, and South West regions via Bafoussam (the regional capital of the West, and the city where I do my banking). I have to emphasize the quantity of stuff: I had a trunk, three bags, and a bike. I had no idea how I was going to get from our Bafoussam stop to my apartment. I just closed my eyes and hoped it would work out.

AND IT DID! My community host, Madame Delphine Nghoko, showed up in Bafoussam, found a car to take us right up to the front steps of my apartment, and helped me carry my things up those stairs. Granted, she couldn’t magically clean or furnish my apartment--neither of which have yet been accomplished--but as far as I’m concerned, she worked magic nonetheless.