Monday, September 15, 2008

Peace Corps China?

Happy Mid-Autumn Festival! I spent the day with my people celebrating the holiday. I am now officially more Chinese here in Cameroon than I ever was in the U.S. I don't remember the last time I celebrated this holiday. When it comes to celebrating, the Chinese loves to incorporate eating. The food (食) and drink (酒) cultures are deeply ingrained. Kate can vouch for that since her stomache has been benefited a great deal recently due to the culture exchanges. True to form, we had another feast. This time, the center of the meal is hot pot and the main ingredient is lamb. Now, not just some chunks of lamb that you get from the supermarhe, but a whole lamb - head and feet and all. The animal has been skinned and gutted, but it definitely stayed in its original lamb shape. I then see Mr. Z skillfully chopping it into pieces. If this didn't turn me into a vegetarian, I don't think anything else will. Feasting chez chinoise is always a multi-hour event. Today was even more so. We ate, we break, we drank and repeat. At around 1pm, the Chinese TV was broadcasting the celebration in China, but the power was out. Go figures. Thankfully, the power came back for us to catch the last hour of the programming. I became rather nostalgic watching this and the feeling worsened when the celebration beamed to Taipei and I saw scenes of old familiarity.

To prove that I am in the Peace Corps and exchanging cultures, this morning, I made French toast for the Chinese. They've never had it and loved it! Now they want to learn to make more "American food", so next time, I am teaching them spaghetti and pizza (very American, I know). Throughout the day, we had conversations about life in China, life in the U.S. and every now and then I throw the comparison with Taiwan in for kicks. Ah, to top it off, I attempted Chinese calligraphy for the first time in a decade. The first few tries were disasterous, but then it started coming back! Never thought I'd find my Chinese roots in Cameroon! I am learning a ton all the time! In this regard, I am more in Peace Corps China than I am in Peace Corps Cameroon.

Back to Peace Corps Cameroon, I am loving my town more and more with each passing day. This week, Billy, a 12-year old kid who stinks less than the others, has been showing up at my house a lot. His dad is a Peace Corps Driver, and also the chief of our cartier. He's really talkative and loves to fetch water for me! He's a breath of fresh air from the other kids who have been deranging a lot. Other than the kids, my house had a new improvement when I got a guy that came to reroute electricty. It's now twice as bright in my living room and I've officially transformed the house out of a brown dungeon!

The carrefour of my village


Where I spend most of my time at home

My "Kitchen"

My "Bathroom"

The other day, when I was waiting for someone at the carrefour, I chatted with the gendarms. They were all really nice and seem to have a good grasp of the Peace Corps. I should start hanging out at the omelet shack more. Lots happen there! On the topic of people, I discovered two French people who live in my village! The other day when I was walking to walk, I saw a white person. I got really excited and went up to her to see if she spoke English! And she did! She's French and is here with another guy working with the fish farm. They are staying with families, much like my homestay experience. I offered my house for western getaway! I think next week I'll invite them over for some yummy goodness. Hopefully, I can learn some proper Frenchy French from them. Other work related update: I am going to visit members of a GIC this week with my counterpart. He needs to check on their income generating activities before granting loans. I'm quite excited to see some real work in action. Sitting at the bank only gets me so far with limited French.

You run into herds of cows more frequently than white people.


Kate found an apartment! So I think this week some time, I will have to spend my first night alone. It's about time. We've been at post for nearly a month now! It's time for me to get some real work done and not sit around making food with Kate all day and watching the same episodes of Grey's Anatomy repeatedly. Okay, more updates to come! Stay tuned!

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