Monday, June 9, 2008

Welcome to Africa!

This morning, I woke up in the middle of the night at 3:30am and could not fall asleep for the life of me. Usually, I am not the type to lose sleep or have insomnia. Perhaps it’s the malaria meds, but I felt horribly uncomfortable and craved a shower. The malaria meds haven’t given me wildly weird dreams or make me hallucinate, yet. Though one of the side effects is difficulty sleeping, hopefully it won’t persist. Anyhow, I rolled out of the bed at 6:30am eager for a shower before first day of training. Of course, as fate would have it, I didn’t have much water. The water that did come out of the faucet contained disgusting orange-brownish looking… things. I noticed that it was coming from the showerhead, which seemed to have rusted and contributed to the grossness. I gave up on the idea of shower, dried my body and off I went. For the first day, I looked fantastically awful and of course dozens of group pictures were taken. Blast!

I was irritated for a total of five minutes, whereas back in the USA, something like that would’ve sufficiently ruined my entire day. There was a distinct moment where I made the choice to laugh it off and made it the welcome gift Africa gave me. That’s not bad; she could’ve given me a big old rat or other worse things.

In other news, yesterday we had a few hours to wander the street of the city. I said street because a group of us literally walked half mile one direction on the road that the hotel is situated and turned around when we hit the stadium. That bit of walk was plenty for one day. It was a lot to take in, even though it was a Sunday and the city was relatively dead. We walked by different tiny street vendors selling a variety of things. There were many men that would carry a medium size box on their head, full of random items for sell. Beyond that, many others carried different things without using an arm to balance. The whole image reminded me when my mom attempted to teach me “proper posture” and said I will have reached such state only when I can walk a straight line with a book on my head. I am amazed not only at the impeccable posture, but also the great efficiency that comes with using one’s head to carry things rather than arms. That’s fantastic!





Last night, the trainees were invited for dinner at the Peace Corps Country Director’s residence; among others, we met the current U.S. Ambassador to Cameroon. The house was grand, thanks to our U.S. tax dollars. The backyard was set up for dining and we had a garden party styled cocktail hour prior to dining. It was like any garden party that may take place in the U.S.; except there were swamps of bats flying over our heads and well, we were in Cameroon. The food was delicious! I can’t quite accurately identify all the food items, but I know they were GOOD. I so will not starve here. That jar of peanut butter I had to leave behind is not missed.



Jump back to today’s training. We had the typical welcome/introduction speech, received our gigantic medial kit, and had a French interview to determine what level of language group to be placed. I chatted for 20 minutes with one of the Cameroonian language trainers about various things. The conversation ranged from weather, family, area of studies to differences between economics and finance, how they impact development, then which I think is more important to development: economics or politic. It got to a clear point where I could not keep going with my limited vocabulary, then we returned to the more basic conversation of what I did and what I will be doing in the coming days. I think it went pretty well considering. As much as I may have complained about M. Pautrot’s class last semester, I am now grateful that he was so French. :)

Alright, enough updates for now. More to come, I am sure. Thursday, we will be moving to our home-stay families. So far, I’ve had fairly regular Internet access, although the quality is certainly sub par. I’ve been getting so frustrated that I simply had to log off the computer. All you people living in the industrialized countries – cherish your broadband and wireless Internet.

4 comments:

Sebastian said...

I am so jealous. It sounds like everything is going super well!

I want to come to Africa now. See if they need any more peace-corps folks.

Michelle said...

I agree. So jealous. I love your descriptions & can see it all in my head so clearly. I LOVE the street vendors. We have those here too, & I think it will be difficult to ever live in a city without them again. They become such a part of your life. :)

Keep the stories & pictures coming. I'm so excited to live vicariously through you! Oh, & I guess I'm excited for you too. :)
Love you!

Steve said...

Wow, you managed to talk about economics and politics in French with only one semester? Amazement.

And I have to ask, are you quite accustomed to "garden parties" state-side? Sounds pretty ritzy to me! :-P

I'm glad everything sounds so positive and can't wait to hear about your homestay experience!

Megan said...

What an awesome experience! Good job on your "French test" :) At least sub-par internet is still internet!