Friday, June 13, 2008

Grilled Fish & Cold Shower

The ridiculous yet absolutely amazing-ness continues.

Right now, I am writing from my bed, underneath my lovely mosquito net (I see why people get addicted and can’t sleep without it). The room is dark and lit only by my hand-cranked lamp and pre-charged mackbook because the electricity keeps cutting out since it’s raining/thundering. It’s raining season here in Banganté and I experienced the mud in all its glory today when walking home after an unforgiving afternoon rain. The rain is actually quite nice, so far. Ask me again in 5 days when I’m coated in red mud and can’t get rid of them no matter what I do. Anyway, I constantly find myself in this strange mix of past and future. All of my surrounding screams past, yet in the midst of electricity cut, I am listening to iPod and typing on a Macbook. It’s too weird.

The past is represented by many things, one of which that occurred today was my dinner. After school, I walked home with Allen since he lives near me and his family person came to pick him up. My (host) mom was supposed to, but she forgot the time while preparing a meal so I missed her. I saw her just as I got near the house. Once we got back, I changed and sat in the kitchen with her. I attempted to learn the ways of Cameroonian cuisine meanwhile passed some of the excessive free time on my hands. Don’t get me wrong; the PC packs our schedule plenty full. I’m up everyday by 6am; however, this is cake compare to my frequent 15-hr-long-day semester. Even if I go to bed at midnight, I am still getting a solid 6 hrs every night. What luxury! This morning, we had a session to discuss everyone’s first night at homestay. There were many complaints about being tired and not getting to bed until 10pm. I can’t say I relate, but not everyone was on a marathon race to the finish line prior to this experience. Many had taken weeks even months off and had a very leisured time preparing. While many are feeling overwhelmed, I am fully enjoying some much desired free time!

Aaack! Totally side-tracked; back to cooking. Our kitchen is attached to the house, but not within. Next to the house is a drive-way-esque place and then the kitchen attached. Sophie (my host mom) had a pot of coal burning, preparing to grill some fish. I sat and watched her as another wave of rain poured. I helped cutting up some plantains for frying. Sophie is very eager to teach me many Cameroonian dishes so I won’t starve at Post. I must note that fresh fried plantains are pretty darn awesome. We conversed about various things and I had my dictionary with me for times of “je ne comprend pas”. I think my French is worse than my English was 10 years ago, but then again I am 10 yrs older and the level of vocabulary and topic of conversation is 10 yrs more difficult. Anyhow, I really enjoyed that time and thought about just again how surreal everything is. I am 21 and sitting in Africa grilling fish over a pot of coal with one of the kindest people I’ve met, talking (poorly) in my 4th language, eating plantains and enjoying the rain. Life is good.

The easygoing life has some downsides. The electricity cut from the rain began at the most untimely point of the evening. I was taking my 2nd cold shower of the stay, feeling proud to have figure out the key to surviving the coldness, even shaving my leg (not going to be a typical PCV), all was going well then suddenly – darkness. The room was so pitch black that I for a second saw what a blind person sees (maybe). I was standing there, completely lathered in soap, razor in hand, thinking, “This is so ridiculous. I love it.” A few minutes went by, the light didn’t come back on. My eyes were adjusting to the darkness; so I started pouring some water from the bucket to my leg meanwhile begin to strategize the next move. I stood in complete silence and utter darkness for what felt like half an hour (probably only 5 minutes), and then the light came back on. Phew! Lesson learned: bring hand-crank lamp to shower if it’s raining outside.

(trick to cold shower: tilt head down to shampoo/rinse without water touching body, then wet arms and legs without touching the part of body between shoulder and thigh. Use a loofa – yes a loofa. Sherry: good thing I didn’t listen to your advice of “who uses a loofa in Africa?”Anyway, lather up the loofa and then soap the entire body. The mid-part of the body that hasn’t been wet can adjust to the temp of the soap, which is much less harsh than the cold water. All done? Rinse, et c’est fini!)

The electricity cut again later that evening while I was in the living room with my host parents. Sophie lit a candle and we chatted by the candlelight for a while. That was so nice. I am back in the simpler times, finding many precious joys in life. Maybe instead of spending $250 an hour on psychiatrist, busy Americans can take a vacation to somewhere sans electricity/Internet. Just an idea.

Anyway, so tired now. Talked to my mama for ½ hr on the phone; hopefully her phone bill next month won’t be $300. I do miss people from home. Send me emails! :)

3 comments:

Michelle said...

i love this & envy your opportunity to enjoy the simple life for such a broad period of time. beautiful.
also, plantains are absolutely one of my favorite foods ever. I wish we had them here. :(
Keep the stories (& imagery) coming- I love it!

Megan said...

Plantains!! SO GOOD!!! I'm glad they are giving you cooking lessons so you don't starve when you're on your own. I know that was one of your worries ... now solved! Such is life...

Andrew in Rome said...

Loving the blog Wendy, keep them coming!