Wednesday, December 31, 2008

December wrap up

Sorry I disappeared this past month! And I know I promised that I would right a post on "Why Cameroonians Have it Good" and I will. But I didn't realize how hard being away for the holidays was going to be. Yeah let me tell you, it’s really not that fun. December is a Closing service month here so there are a bunch of volunteers finishing their two years and heading home. Christmas isn't celebrated here as it is in the states. Santa Claus has never been here before. So with all things combined.. its a hard feeling to describe. That won't kill me will only make me stronger right?

I'm actually really glad the holiday season is over and I can just get back to the day to day stuff. It was a good time for a vacation and to see everyone from my training group who I haven't seen in 3 months! at in-service training. Unfortunately and fortunately, I got Dysentery the week before. Most often one gets dysentery from bacteria, aka feces, that contaminates most food that is either not soaked in beach for a half an hour or boiled. Appetizing right? I won't go into details but let me just say I was ready to pack up my bags and leave the country but I couldn't leave my own bathroom for more than an hour for four days. The treatment for this is gatorade but that isn't sold here so instead we make our own by mixing salt, sugar and lime for flavor.

I got better just in time to travel out with a bunch of volunteers to a beach town, kribi for in-service. While we weren't in all day long technical sessions during the day, we had an amazing time at the beach. We had bonfires, dinner on the beach, swam in the warm water with huge waves, went to the waterfalls outside of town... ahhhhhh I'm missing it already. We also had air conditioning in our hotel room that we turned down so low, just because we could and because feeling cold isn't something that happens often. I put up tons of pictures of the beach.

Seeing everyone was really the best part. I organized Secret Santa, and was a bit worried that something was going to go wrong, or I forgot someone. But it turned out so well! We exchanged gifts right before our final dinner together. Everyone got up individually and presented their gift often with a funny story. People were really thoughtful and for a few minutes there in the humid 90 degrees it felt like Christmas.

I was only gone for a week and a half, but getting back to post felt so good. As soon as the bus I was on hit pavement I was like "HOME!!!!!" And then when I got in my house I killed a cockroach with my shoe and then I was really home. lol that is disgusting but that’s what really happened.

For Christmas Eve a few volunteers in the east celebrated with a Cameroonian family just outside my town. Christmas day we cooked a big American Christmas dinner. We had a tree and each of us saved opening a care package from home until Christmas morning. I also drank plenty of wine and palm wine.

There's just nothing that can replace family, but the family that I have here is definitely the next best thing. I hope everyone at home had a wonderful Christmas, know that I missed you all and I hope you have a happy new year.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Post holiday update

Long hair!!!!

I just wanted to let everyone know that I had an amazing Thanksgiving holiday here. It might have been one of the best times I've had here actually. Oh and I got my hair done! It’s a Senegalese Rasta twist. Never have I ever been a brunette and never have I had my hair this long. It took 8 hours to put in!!!! I was not happy sitting still but its cute so I guess it was worth it. It was so heavy I ended up cutting a bit.
Welcome to the good life...

Back to Thanksgiving, we were all traveling deeper into the east province to a smaller town known for its lack of electricty, horrible cell service and water shortages. My town is the only place with pavement in the entire province.. yeah.. so everywhere else is extremely dusty. But that didn't dampen the holiday.

It was hosted by a recent former peace corps volunteer who is now running a cameroonian tobacco company. He's got a tough job but some pretty posh living. I felt like I stepped into a tropical vacation getaway.. pool, hot water, patio furniture, full bar with a fridge, pool table, etc. I was in the pool for hours and I played with the pet monkey for a while. The girls did most of the cooking though, we were in the kitchen for 7 hours trying to recreate american dishes with things you can find in Cameroon. Not easy, but after a couple scotchs on the rocks, with some music, cooking was hilarious. Simple things like making green bean casserole turn into a production and basically a guessing game. Hmmm maybe if we just add this, that and whatever it'll turn out okay right?? And most things did.
The former volunteer raised turkeys that we stuffed and put in the oven. I was thankful I didn't have to see them die. We had deviled eggs to start, mashed potatoes, SWEET corn not cameroonian cow corn that they call sweet, cranberry sauce!, stuffing, green beans, and plenty of wine. Deserts were also amazing, with the help of some ingredients sent from the states. There was 20 people at the table, half of them were volunteers and the others were people from Doctors Without Borders, a Stanford student who was doing research and some people from the tobacco company.


So I made it safetly back! I might have mentioned it before but its tough being around so many americans and then not. One of those love hate things. I'm really looking forward to christmas. I'll be traveling into the bush for christmas eve celebrating Cameroonian style and then I'm planning Christmas day dinner here in Bertoua. It will be really nice and the other volunteers in the province are the most amazing people to be around during the holidays. However no matter how great the pumpkin pie is, or if there is a swimming pool and a bottle of 15 year scotch in the equation.. you just can't replace family. There's not subsitution that comes even close. Hope everyone had a wonderful holiday, Miss you all to timbuktu and back!