Friday, October 8, 2010

Yup... Still here

It seems that when I moved to a new city, I left the blog behind in Bertoua along with my dog and the humidity. So to assure you that I haven’t been taken as a chief’s wife or turned into a cow by a sorcerer, I will update you on the past 5 months or so- yikes it might be a long one.

I decided to stay longer than the standard 27 months because I wanted to get more experience in international development work, particularly in public health. Even though saying goodbye to almost all of the volunteers in my training group was really difficult, I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to work with Plan International. Turns out I wasn’t the only one who wasn’t done with Peace Corps- out of 33 in our group 8 of us are continuing our volunteer service either in Cameroon, China or Guinea. Reason #214 why I love my group.

I did the two day move across the country to my new city of Bamenda in May and expected things to fall into place pretty smoothly. I had assumed that it was going to be an easy transition after all I’d lived here for 2 years already, the North West region was English speaking, the city is relatively developed, and a favorite among Cameroonians and volunteers. Well I was wrong about the easy part.

Before I dive in I just want to say it’s not all bad! Bamenda is a wonderful city. Its surrounded mountains and waterfalls which I love even more after living in the flat forest. No more sticky heat and humidity- its 10am and I’m wearing a fleece. Although everyday for the past 3 months it downpours for a good 4 hours because its, yeah you guessed- rainy season. I mean every single day. It’s gotten old, but at least I know I can get water. And finally, the people are the nicest, motivated, hard working Cameroonians I have ever met.

On to the bad part. Lets just say, when I moved in May I hit a streak of bad luck. Life in general is bit harder due to the fact that it takes longer to do everything, communication is exhausting, always figuring out how things work- and then to add on top of that a series of unlucky events…. It wasn’t fun. I won’t go into it, but I will share some other things about my new life.

The official language of the Northwest and Southwest is English, but not American English. You’ve probably heard the differences between British and American English. Multiply that by ten. Here the differences a much bigger. Learning how to adjust my accent and speak slowly was painful. Here are some examples that I always forget:

What I call a… Is actually called….

Prune = Plum

Avocado = Pear

Moto Bike = Okada

Taxi Car= Moto

Plastic bag = Paper

This is one of my favorite examples….another volunteer speaking to her work colleagues

What she said: “It’s too hot to wear pants today”

Translation: “I’m too sexually aroused to wear underwear today”

Should have said: “I’m feeling heat so I will not wear trousers today”

Then there is Pidgin. I was thrown right into it on my first day of work. My best attempt to explain this language is it’s a really thick slang English with influences from other local dialects. I was already pretty good at “franglais”- (mixing French and English words together) and now I’m melanging pidgin words into my vocabulary. My English is suffering. Some of a few favorites:

Pidgin = Translation

You get chop for chop? = Do you have food to eat?

Wahala = Trouble

Nahow = How are you?

Ma belly don flop =I’m full

Runny stomach =Diarrhea

The most prominent word I hear about 20 times a day (even I say it a lot) is “Ashia” definition: sorry for you. Then you always have to say thank you back. I wouldn’t call Cameroon the most polite culture I’ve ever experienced, by far, but they never fail to say thank you after an ashia. You can use it at anytime, for anything. Someone died – Ashia. You are walking – Ashia. You have to go to your job – Ashia.

Speaking of jobs, I work on a child survival project that focuses on malaria, malnutrition, immunization, pneumonia and diarrhea in pikins (pidgin for kids) under 5 years old and mothers. Its one of USAID’s largest project child survival projects that has directly affected 200,000 children and 450,000 women of reproductive age here in Cameroon. Plan worked with local ngos to train women’s groups in the community on how to prevent and treat childhood illnesses. Then each member of the group is responsible for a group of houses in the community to make sure each family has a mosquito net hanging properly in the bedroom, to advise the mother on food for the children, to keep track of immunization records, weigh babies, etc. Then at the meeting at the end of the month the women combine their information on a simple chart they make to see what needs improving.

Plan also worked in health centers to train staff on identifying, properly treating, giving quality care, etc for those same illnesses that I mentioned in the beginning. When you go to the hospital, a nurse or doctor does a routine pre-consultation that includes checking your weight, checking your temperature, then they ask you a series of questions. Well it’s not routine everywhere and that is just one example of what Plan was trying to improve. The method of managing childhood illnesses Plan and the Ministry of Health in Cameroon recently adopted also focused on prescribing the right medications, communicating to mothers how to care for the sick child at home and enforcing supervision of health staff.

I came at towards the end of this 5 year project most of my work was assisting in the final evaluations. Going into the bush and training people to collecting information from household to household. In a month I’d already been all over the North West region. In one district I literally went to the end of the road, and then we kept driving. I’m promised another delicious porcupine meal if I ever make it back there.

A 12 month operations research was added to the project last November in one of the health districts were we work. Each community nominated a couple of people to become Community Health Workers (CHW). The only qualifications needed were to be able to read and write. Then Plan trained them on how to diagnose and treat pneumonia cases with oral amoxicillin. In Cameroon, and in many countries, CHW for Malaria already exist and the system works really well. People in the community, especially those who can’t afford the 50 cent consultation at the health center can go to the CHW who maintains a supply of malaria drugs.

So that is kind of a glimpse at what I’ve been doing. There’s a lot more to the project and I could go on and on about the success but I’ll stop. The project finished last week and the work load has lessened a lot. I’m going into the office only in the mornings now which has made be a much happier and better person. Wish I could post pictures but my camera was stolen literally the second day I moved here. I’ll try to grab some from other volunteers. Alright, thanks for reading. I’m off to the market to get a chicken.

Friday, April 23, 2010

New job, new city and a new date to come home

After months of debating and weeks of waiting, emails, meetings and some traveling... I've got a new position in Cameroon! I'll continue to be a Peace Corps Volunteer but I'll be working with Plan International, a large development organization that works with children and families in 48 developing countries. If you want to learn more about what they do in Cameroon visit their website here. My role with Plan is still being developed and maybe I'll even get a fancy title but I'll give you some idea of what I'll be doing.


First I'll be moving across the country to Bamenda, the capital of the North West Region of Cameroon. The NW is one of the two Anglophone regions so that means I'll be speaking ENGLISH. If you couldn't tell by the caps there, I'm really excited about it. Bamenda is also one of the best cities to live in Cameroon for other reasons. It is a hub of dozens of other development organizations and has a large expat community. In addition to a few groceries stores in town (thats a big deal) they also have the best produce selection in Cameroon including broccoli, mushrooms, and celery. Bamenda is in the mountains, surrounded with gorgeous green hills and it's often a little chilly, some even say cold!!! I am moving out of the hot and humid rainforest. YES.


The work that Plan does is incredible and I can't describe how excited I am to be working with them. I'll be with Plan as a special advisor and supervisor as apart of their Child Survival Program. The program works to help mothers and children prevent some of the top contributors to child mortality deaths under 5 years of age. One part of the work will be helping them improve their operational methods on a pneumonia research project in a village not far from Bamenda. The second part of my work will be overseeing and strengthening ngos, associations and other community based organizations trained by Plan in giving health seminars. I'll be able to observe the health animations the groups present and provide constructive feedback for improvement. Again, I can't tell you enough how excited I am about this position.


Plan is just as excited about this partnership as I am and would like me to be in Bamenda in just a couple weeks. That means, I've got to close up my bank account, wrap up my projects as best as I can here, figure out what to do with my dog, etc, etc I won't bore you with the details but I'm going to be busy. I'm really happy to be getting started working right away though since this project is only going to be about 7 months long. Do you know what that means???? I'LL BE HOME FOR CHRISTMAS THIS YEAR. I'll be the one in flip flops and a sundress at the Burlington airport in December but I'll still be there!!!! No set date yet, I'll keep you posted. Life couldn't get any better.

Many many MANY thanks go to my PC boss James who is fantastic. A huge thanks to family and friends that have supported me, encouraged my career ambitions even if it meant being far away and sent so many amazing care packages (I’ve probably gotten at least 30 - SO spoiled) that has made living half way around the world that much easier. Definitely tastier too.

with love, Siobhan

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Favorites from 2010 So Far

My new bunny! Isn't she adorable? Her name is McRabbit. We were at our friend's bar a while ago and some guy was going around selling them. I'd had a couple beers and it seemed like a very good idea to get one. The next day, I realized it wasn't. Unfortunately she didn't lead a long life.

My new favorite thing to read is The Pioneer Woman I'd like to be her when I grow up. Grab some wine and read the "Love Story" - of how she and her husband met. It puts most of my romance novels to shame

International Women's Day on March 8th is the best day of the year. This year the fabric is ugly but Elyse and I had a few beers with the ladies in our neighborhood and it was really fun.

It was raining at the time we took these pictures, also raining in the bar hence the head scarf. I know why people do rain dances now. After weeks without rain (I shouldn't really complain because people in the northern part of the country will go a half a year without rain), temperatures hitting a 100 and humidity, I'm just about ready to do a rain dance myself. The rains that come are few and far between since its the dry season but when it does rain... its really intense. And I run outside with every pot and salad bowl I own to collect it. Here's a picture of my buckets getting filled up!!

Mary Poppins in French makes everyone happy!!! And it keeps the neighbor kid entertained while her mom helps me clean the house and do laundry.

Books have arrived!!! I wish I could easily sum up the entire process but I still wouldn't do it justice. THANK YOU to everyone that helped fundraise, I wish you could have been in the storage room to see the boxes and boxes of books and how excited these schools are to receive them. Here are a couple pictures, and for more visit Wendy's blog at

It's volunteer's favorite season right now... MANGO SEASON! I bought a small bucket full of them for a dollar on the side of the road and I didn't even have to get out of the bus. It's wonderful. Favorite dish right now: Black bean mango salsa with avocado. Soooooo good.

This is called mbool. NOT a favorite. The sauce is made of mbools- no idea what that is and other spices. It has the texture of slimy elastic snot and you eat it with a ball of sticky flavorless manioc. I think i've mentioned manioc before- there are dozens of different ways to prepare it but essentially its a nutritionally void carbohydrate . Its popular here because a four year old could manage to grow it, has a long shelf life and its got 3 times as many calories as an average starch. Mbool is not my favorite.

But we're at a friend's house for dinner so I'm going to pretend that I love it and eat it all. *choke*. Our friend's kids are pretty cute though
Hiking up the tallest Mountain in Western Africa is, well, not exactly my favorite thing to do I found out. The hike took 3 days and covered about 26 miles. Before this, I couldn't remember the last time I went up a set of stairs (It's not that I prefer escalators, multiple level buildings are not common here). And here I was CLIMBING, not even just hiking for a good part of this excursion. Good thing I went with an amazing group of people and we had porters carrying our bags, in flip flops and jelly shoes. We camped out and cooked 2 nights. Thankfully we brought tents to sleep in because the rats were huge. I fell a few times on the way down the mountain, got up and reminded myself that at the bottom was a new dress waiting for me. But I made it!!! with all my toe nails in tack. Do you know that happens to hikers?? I decided I like hiking and I like camping, but I don't like the two together. After 6 to 9 hours of hiking I do not want to collect water, make dinner and figure out the damn tent. Oh and next time, i'll start of with a smaller mountain.


Ending the hike and going directly to the black sand beaches of Limbe was a happy ending. We ate so much fish, calamari and shrimp that night. This is the hotel's swimming pool which also has fish in it.
I'll stick to the beach thanks.

Lastly, what we've all been waiting for.... Close of Service Conference. Peace Corps puts up our entire training group- all of us who came in at the same time, at the nicest hotel in the capital over looking the entire city. We spent 4 days eating amazing food, hanging out at the pool and having a great time. Time well earned I must say. Myself and a couple other people put together a funny slideshow of pictures with some fun facts from our group collected in a survey we gave out. It was awesome, thats all I can say until I get home and can show it to you.

During the day we filled out piles of paper work and learned how to get out of this country in one piece. Most importantly we found out when we'll be leaving. Well almost all of us. I'm looking into the possibility of staying another 6 months to a year, still under Peace Corps but also partnered with a large international organization doing development work here. It would be a BIG boost in my career and maybe a foot in the door to the organization. It's not without downsides though. It's another year away from family and it might be the 3rd Christmas in a row I would miss and all of the other holidays, weddings, time I can never get back, etc. It would also mean another year of volunteering. Money is not a priority, but some is necessary.

Whether I'll stay or go, hopefully that will be decided in a couple weeks. My next blog will either be about my date that I leave this country and travel ideas/plans around afterwards OR it will be about my new exciting position with ________ organisation. You're going to have to wait and see!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Christmas Vacation

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the hinge of Africa. The holidays are never the same for me outside of Vermont so instead of trying to "fake it to make it" this year we just did the extreme opposite. Packed up our bags and headed to the hottest, predominately Muslim region of where neither Elyse, Lisa nor I have been before, nor do we know that many Peace Corps Volunteers. That’s the beauty of Peace Corps though. Volunteers you've never met are similar to that distant relative or second cousin in your family. When you show up at their door you're always welcome to a place to stay and whatever is cooking. The volunteers you see often are like brothers and sisters, sometimes you know more about them then you would ever care to know. But that’s family and its kind of nice sometimes.

Anyway! Off to the Grand North! The primary means of travel is to take the one and only overnight train that leaves from Yaoundé at 6pm and arrives in the city of Ngoundere at 6am. The process to even get train tickets is a whole other story. Since Lisa and I were coming from Bertoua, we planned to catch bus at 10pm to travel to a small town an hour north of here where we could catch the train passing through around midnight. Except, frequently, things don't work out. Hopefully if you've been reading my blog you could see that one coming. Its around midnight, we're trying to sleep on random planks of wood among the rumble that is part of the "construction" at the train station and we hear the train might pass through around 4am instead of... now. The busses that brought us here won't be back till the morning, its cold and after a couple beers I'm pretty convinced that this is what the apocalypse would look like. We slept outside for a while and then because we're foreigners, someone from the train station brought us into a little room with chairs and I slept on a coffee table. The train came at 11am that morning and we arrived in the city of Ngoundere at 7pm. Not even half way to our destination and the trip has already taken 20 hours. That’s pretty normal. I'm not complaining, I'm just stating.

Now don't be picturing a beautiful amtrak train here. There is 2nd class which most peace corps volunteers don't dare to venture. First class is where I was. Then there are couchettes- I don't know the name in english but its a tiny room that has 4 beds you can fold down from the wall. Think of first class like a little more spacious 1980's greyhound with a cockroach infestation. Just the smaller ones though. Definitely not spacious enough for the lady in the seat next to me with 3 kids. One of the kids slept under my seat for several hours and the 3 year old demanded for my headphones, split soda, and in general regarded me as a playground. I was astonished she even knew the word for headphones.

Luckily throughout the entire trip I'm traveling with Lisa and Elyse and we've become an unstoppable travel team. Bus stations are insane here, there are people selling stuff, pickpocketers, reserving or not reserving seats, someone gives you their kid to hold, getting your luggage up top, the loud goat on the bus might be under our seat, worrying about where to go to the bathroom, figuring out the ticket system, car sickness, arguing with a drunk lady about her bucket of worms taking up space on the bus... its a mad house. Or should i say bus and traveling around visiting places means you have to deal with this on a daily basis. Not only do the three of us figure it out, but we also watch out for each other and laugh off all these inconveniences. Shout out to us.

So I guess I should explain why we would want to go through this whole ordeal in the first place at Christmas time. We tend to think of Cameroon in three parts: the two Anglophone regions (northwest and southwest), the grand south (west, center, south, littoral, and the east), and the grand north (adamawa, north and extreme north). Those 3 parts of the country are completely different from each other.

The Grand north is cut off by the grand south by the large Adamawa region and it's notoriously bad roads. But once you get there, it’s a completely different country.
We went during their cold season (90 to 100 degrees) which is fortunate because when it gets hot there... it’s seriously hot. Like 120 degrees in the shade. Even in the "cold" your skin cracks up crocodile like in no time. It reminded me of how humid it really is in the East. In Maroua it hasn't rained since October and it won't rain again till around May. Correct me if I'm wrong northerns, the rainy/dry season is much different in the grand south.

The Grand North is mainly Muslim in comparison to the south that is mostly Christian. There are these gorgeous mosques in the large cities and you can hear the call to prayer as clear as a bell where ever you are. Since Muslims abstain from drinking, there are less bars, less Ivorian pop music blaring from the streets and therefore fewer people who are intoxicated. It creates a more peaceful region of Cameroon

A huge mosque in Ngoundere

Side note: youtube is amazing here is a great example of the music played 24/7 Seka Seka Compared to most, that’s actually a quality music video. And my favorite which I can't believe is actually online Ngwa'ak afup Hilarious. I know the dance.

Ok, back to the story, the Northerns also seem to have caught on to the idea that tourism is profitable because they are very friendly to foreigners. There were very few times that people yelled out "white woman!!!" "hey baby" "take me back to Europe with you" kind of calls that come by the dozen in Bertoua. That part alone made me want to pack my bags and move up, desert heat and all. The Grand South has a lot of fish but the North is where you go to get good meat. Beef and Goat especially are DELICIOUS and cheap. The farmer’s co-ops there make great yogurt thats found everywhere which I also had just about every other day. In coomparsion with dairy in the Grand South which is mainly powdered milk, the yogurt was a big upgrade.

So we arrived in the beautiful Capital of Maroua in the Extreme North and even though its in the which looks like the Sahel to me, every street is lined with huge green trees. The pavement is very nice there and all traffic is guided more systematically by intersections and rotaries all organized around this huge river that flows through the center of town. This time of year the river is completely dry, the only thing that goes on there are football games and cattle herding. The city also has great restaurants, a couple hotels with pools, and several artisan shops - I’ve had my eye on a crocodile clutch and a leather bag for a longggg time.

When we arrived at the transit house were already a bunch of volunteers there decorating cookies while listening to Christmas music. We got to know a few of the newer people over some beers and had a great time. A few examples of presents exchanged around the tree christmas morning were a can of pringles, couple packs of gummy worms, a box of corn flakes with a large bowl, and other luxuries that we rarely spend money on. Lisa, Elyse and I made pancakes for everyone for breakfast, followed by Christmas beers at the bar around the corner, lots of Christmas movies in the afternoon and Adam made delicious calzones for dinner. It was really really good Christmas.

After Christmas and before New Years was spent touring around. A bunch of us went to Waza National Park Cameroon's safari designation. They might enjoy having tourists up north, but that doesn't mean they know what to do with them. The park isn't successful at keeping a high population of animals around. There were a bunch of giraffes, monkeys, antelope type animals, birds, but that’s about it. The elephants and lions were on holiday in Chad. Still it was fun but a longgggg day to be in a van driving on paths made by animals (the same crappy kind of busses we normally spend countless hours in even though this time it was rented.

It was exciting looking out for animals but the day after celebrating Christmas- a few of us were more interested napping and being woken up when something interesting happened.

Nothing says traveling in this country without a breakdown. On our way to the Park, getting the bus tied back together
The next day we headed out to Mokolo a town about an hour and a half from the Maroua (capital city/transit house). Mokolo is where Fleurange (kate) one of my favorite fellow Business Volunteers lives and is also a stop over to one of Cameroon's most popular tourist sites, Rhumsiki. Its incredible that tourists from other countries- let alone Cameroonians get to this place because its kind of a trip. Since we definitely didn't have money for a private car we hopped on motos for hire in Mokolo, put on our ipods and flew for hour on what seemed like a dirt bike course with luggage. It was so fun.Highlights of the trip were
1. Almost getting bumped the moto off several times
2. Traffic jams of donkeys and cows
3. I pet a horse as a group of them were running along the moto while we driving down the road
4. The white people moto parade caused commotion in the small villages we drove through. I was waving to kids for a good half of the ride.
5. The gorgeous scenery as we approached Rhumsiki- we could even see Nigeria
When we arrived at the fancy (to us) hotel the concierge takes one look at our dusty dirty selves and says "oh you must be Peace Corps". Then proceeds to assume that we don't need a room with air-conditioning. Since we made out with a $4 dollar PC discount and snuck the three of us into the two person room we didn't really complain. The bed was only a double though so we separated the mattress from the box spring and voila! Two beds. And used the curtains as sheets

It was a legit vacation

I feel like I'm telling an epic journey even though it was a little over a week, but I’m going to keep writing. We ate dinner at a famous restaurant in Rhumsiki- might be the only restaurant - a nice set up of two long tables in an open courtyard right off the side of the road. The owner also looked at us and said "oh you must be Peace Corps". Right again. But instead of making us eat in the back hut or something he pulls out this huge welcome wagon and insists that we make ourselves at home. We sit down and he brings out bread right out of the oven with an amazing roasted garlic spread (I’ve never seen that before here) and chocolate croissants that they're making for the hotel for the next morning. I asked for a cold one and he said "why, you're at home! grab one out of the kitchen!" and took us all back to the kitchen hut so we could all grab something out of the fridge and watch them make the croissants. The owner claims he never left the tiny village for culinary training and has just adapted his cooking to the foreigners who've come through. I don't know if I believe him, but the meal was amazing. At the end we all wrote a little something in the large visitors book he keeps. Box spring or mattress we passed right out after

The next day we set off in search of the CraB Sorcerer. The elder of the village of Rhumsiki is able to predict the future with his all knowing crustacean friend. Who gets replaced every 3 months by the way. He didn't speak French so I had an interpreter to ask him about my future martial status. I wanted to ask him where I would live next year but I didn't because I know he'd be biased to Africaand it’s not like he knows the state capitals game.

Translation: 500cfa per crab picture

He took out rocks that represented different things -love, life, money, Cameroon, Africa, Europe, random things etc then stuck them in the pot of sand. Then he took out the crab, spit on it and then put the crab in the pot.. waited for 2 minutes while the crab knocks over stones and sticks (meanwhile I was thinking where did they find crab around here?? crab cakes would be delicious) until he pulled the crab out and he/she said.... That I could get married right now if I wanted to. Which is true considering the amount of proposals I get here and hate btw. But he said I would get married in 3 years not to an American but to an African and I have the power to have lots of children (yikes). But I would only have 2 boys and a girl. And I'll live happily ever after. (I added that last part).
The sorcerer

We did some great hiking around the rock formations that I heard somewhere used to be the core of small volcanoes and the rest has eroded away with time. I would have pictures of me hiking but instead I hiked off attempting to run around the mountain and lost the group. We spend the afternoon jumping in and out of the pool and reading trashy novels- clearly enjoying ourselves more than the other tourists. Then back on the motos with just enough time before the sun set on the mountains.

Lisa's face says it all.

We're back in the capital city for New Years Eve. The party planning is in the hands of Ehab from my training group and doesn't fail to represent how our group can throw a party even in Africa. It was a "graffiti party" hence the reason we're all dressed in white. The name is a little college/fraternity but its more fun in execution- especially now that we can write on each other in several different languages. It was easily one of the best New Years Eve I've ever had. After we did the big countdown to 2010 (according to someone's random estimation of time) we started the new year off going around hugging each other for about a half an hour. I love my peace corps family.

Here are some more pictures from the trip: Christmas Vacation

Hope everyone had a great holiday and a happy new year, Siobhan

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The catch up

This morning I thought I would sit down with a delicious cup of coffee (the real kind, sent from the states) and finally catch you all up on my life since.. well since a while. Except i'm out of gas for my stove, as are many homes in the East due to a region wide shortage. So today I proved that even the city girl can split wood, splash some kerosene around and create a fire in her back yard. An hour later and I've got myself a cup of coffee and the start of more adventures with fire wood.

I've also tried out my plumbing and electrical skills recently which let me tell you... are pretty weak. I can only speak for cameroon, but it seems like this area of the world gets the short end of the stick on quality products. Or more stated more clearly, factory defects from the western world get sold here as brand new. So there has been some frustration with my "new" house. But i guess that's what happens when you decided to be grown up and switch from playing house to paying for the house.

On to other updates. My health project (community health insurance) is going pretty well. We've been progressing at a slower rate than I would like but thats okay. The best news is two large international donor agencies are coming this month to talk with us further about funding support! We started the group with our own money, taken time away from families and work and have not gained a cent so it will be really nice to get that extra financial support. It will also help the project advance and be more available to several communities and villages.

This is the logo design I thought of, Thryn created and our group decided on. We're legit.

Books for Cameroon has been successfully funded and we're in the preparation stage right now to receive all 22,000 of them. Hopefully the carton will be making its way across the Atlantic very soon. For a quick second I thought maybe it would be nice if it arrived with a pizza, you know for the kids.

Its hard to believe its the holidays again, especially with the start of the 90 degree weather and dust. My postmate Elyse and I have decorated the house and have been playing Christmas music to convince ourselves otherwise. Thanksgiving is something we do big in the East and this year has topped them all. There were 25 people all at one table it was awesome. We had two big turkeys- thanks to an expat who raised them. No I didn't kill them or clean them but I did brine them overnight in a bath of stock and seasonings = delicious. It was the first time I've ever cooked a turkey and I was damn proud! There was also apple sausage stuffing, cranberry sauce, gravy, pumpkin pie, green bean casserole with the crunchy onions and mushrooms, pumpkin bread, mashed potatoes, caramelized carrots, SWEET corn, creamed green peas and christmasy napkins. Thats not even including appetizers! We also had an assortment of bottled wine and liquor. Now this may seem like typical thanksgiving and thats the part that made it so amazing. Its so hard to recreate american food here so the fact that everyone agreed it tasted just like home, made me pretty happy.

Not really a surprise here, I kinda planned food for three times as many people. I could barely lift the potatoes.

Boxed wine + christmas music & decorating + elyse = greatness. She's still going to kill me for posting this one..

This time of year is by far the hardest to be away, again, from family and friends back home who are all celebrating together. So Elyse, Lisa, Tess and I are headed up to the Extreme North to spend it with a huge gathering of Peace Corps volunteers. We're also really excited about traveling up there because we've never been (a 3 day trip just to get there!) and because it is a completely different country in comparison to the southern part of Cameroon. I will take LOTS of pictures.

I did put up a random mix of pictures recently that you can see here Its been a while... here are some photos

And last night I went to a party so I thought I would upload those as well. Bandjoun Fete

Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, with love, Siobhan