Saturday, June 4, 2011

Au Revoir Cameroon!

I have traveled for the last time ever the intensely long voyage from my small little village of Lara to the big city capital of Yaounde for one more week of closing. My last few days (even weeks) at village were a whirlwind of activity; finishing up all the grading of exams, recording grades by hand at the high school, selling some of my furniture to friends, making sure to say goodbye to everyone. I even threw a tiny party where I asked a neighbor to make a great amount of local wine and gave it out to my neighbors to say thank you for protecting me for the two years. I never had a problem with theives or anyone entering my yard at night because I know they watched out for me. And they always appreciate another calabash (wooden bowl) full of bil-bil (fermented wine). Saying goodbye was tough especially to a few close friends who always treated me like a friend and not another "rich white person."

But I am ready to leave the country of Cameroon after such an amazing experience that I couldn't have asked for more (maybe some ranch dressing and less malaria? oh I digress). I am finishing this week of all the awesome paperwork and even more awesome medical exams; we have to give three stool samples, three I say! Then I leave for a 10 day trip in Morocco to travel with another fellow volunteer! I'm super excited to see another part of Africa where the culture just keeps changing. Then I arrive home in Ohio to see you all. :)

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Theory # 56: Dirt is not Dirty.

We all have time to theorize and philosophize and other -izes but maybe more so when you live in an African village. My fellow volunteer and good friend, Melanie, and I have discussed the debate of dirtiness in Cameroon, particulary in the Extreme North where the climate is hot and dry a good eight months of the year. Now that the winter season came and went and the hot months are quickly approaching, the amount of wind and dust has surrmounted that of last year. But we decided that our clothes are not dirty if we wear them and only dust has blown through them. They only become dirty when a liquid is involved, for example, sweat. But this theory is also proven by the men and women who was their clothes in the riverbed by digging holes to find hidden water then laying their freshly-washed clothes out on the sand. Of course this does not make them dirty again because once the scorching sun dries them (which I'm sure the intensity of sun rays kills any remaining bacteria) all you have to do is shake off the remaining sand and voila! clean clothes. So although your skin color becames a bit darker and your clothes seem a bit dusty after a day's work, you're not really dirty. Just shake it off and you're good as new.

R.I.P. Frida

It is a classic love-sick story. One of my lovely chickens, Frida (the red-feathered) died recently. Cause: unrequited love. Poor girl.

So as I previously mentioned, I degorged my male chicken for the Christmas feast, leaving only my female chickens behind. But Zita got lucky and had two eggs hatch, although one baby died. But Zita and her only child were inseparable. I mean, literally every moment (waking and sleeping) was spent basically side-by-side. And it meant chasing Frida away every time she challenged the food supply.

Frida was left all alone. She kept jumping the fence "to search for a man" or at least thats what my neighbors said. Then for a couple days she would sit by herself for an unusual amount of time and wander aimlessly. The next morning I found her laying ouside, heart stopped, eyes still open. Such a loss around the homestead.

Yes, she could have died from one of the chicken diseases that was spreading around village. But if you look at the rest of the evidence, it is more likely that she died of a broken heart. Maybe she will find love in chicken heaven. Rest in peace, Frida.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

November Impulse Buy: Chickens!

Yes, my impulse buys here in Cameroon tend to be a little different from the states. For example, I splurge on a wheel of Vache Qui Rit (fake cheese!) or the more expensive box of wine or even an apple but this was the first time that the thought of buying chickens came up. I had recently read the book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver and became inspired to live even more locally than I already do (all food products that I buy are local and other goods usually come from Chad or Nigeria). But I wanted something in my own backyard, so why not the presence of squawking chickens?

I explained my desire for some egg-making birds to one of my closest friends, Miramou and by the next market day I had three chickens hanging upside-down in my hand. She recommended that I buy one male and two females for faster reproduction. I told her that I just wanted fresh eggs to eat but I believe she thought that I wanted to raise and sell chickens. Now, other sources have told me that you don’t need a male to have edible eggs but at the time that is what I got. So I quickly named them Henry, Frida and Zita with the hope that I would not get too attached. I brought them home to my outdoor kitchen where they would sleep and could run around my compound all day long. I give them water and some millet grain every day and they forage for the rest.

Now my compound fence is pretty large but apparently it was not spacious enough for Henry. In a couple of weeks he learned he could fly out by jumping onto a pile of bricks, then over my fence. Then I would send my neighbor girl on a good chase for him, sometimes not winning until nightfall when he would cozy into bed in a random place. And he convinced Frida to fly the coop as well while Zita was at home sitting on her eggs.

Another impulse decision was made on Christmas Eve. I had grown tired of Henry’s little games and decided he would be sacrificed for a Christmas meal to share with the neighborhood. Two neighbor girls, Eugenie and Madjile, took control of the situation, cut his throat, plucked feathers and cleaned him as I filmed the event. I was surprised at my lack of remorse or disgust; apparently living here toughens ya up. But still don’t think I, myself, could be the one beheading a live chicken.

For Christmas, I prepared him in a tomato-y, oily Cameroonian sauce served with rice to share with the neighbors. Even my vegetarian friend Ashley decided she must try my local poultry and admitted it was good! And more good news, Zita had two chicks hatch! I’m a mom!? Oh, family.

Technology: 3092745bizillion. Me: 0

So Technology has won yet again. If it was not enough that my computer died, my camera card ran full and I seem to have constant internet connection problems, now my flash drive became fully infected with super-strength viruses (thanks to my high school computer) that infected a couple other computers as well (oops! sorry) and lost all documents. Now as much as I love communicating with you, the forces seem to be preventing it. So once again I will recap a few of the experiences that have happened over the past couple of months. But sorry, no accompanying photographs for awhile.

And as much as Technology keeps beating me I will not let it get the best of me. In fact, being here in Cameroon and living so differently has made me recognize how much I enjoy telling (more so writing) stories and communicating that maybe I have realized what I want to do in life. A career, perhaps? Fancy that.

Friday, November 5, 2010

And along came Nico!

After a year into service, I was the fortunate recipient of a visitor from the great states of America, my sister Nicole! Thanks to govt school loans, she could afford the trip here. It was absolutely amazing to show my sister, someone from my family and from the states, my life here in Cameroon firsthand. And after more than a year of not seeing each other, we had a lot of catching up to do. The trip was filled with adventures of public transport, new eating experiences and the frustrations of getting hassled by the police. Oh Cameroon, you know just how to outdo yourself.

It was great to show everyone one in village my Twin sister. To which they exclaimed,"Same mother, same father?!" Yes, that was a question. And "Oh you look the same!" And except for Nico's new haircut, we pretty much did. The airline lost her baggage for a while (Eff AirFrance) so Nicole had to wear my clothes and we really did confuse people in village.

Here are a few photos:

We hung out with neighbor kids.

We drank delicious fermented millet. Thou, nicole wasn't too fond of it.

All in all, we had Fun! I wanted to add more photos but Nicole only sent me a few so I blame her. But she has a full facebook album if the curiosity strikes.

Shout out to my sister: Love and Miss.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Nobody makes me bleed my own blood! Well, except for that moto driver...

I am a little behind on blog posts due to the death of my mac, lack of internet service and just a plain ole shortage of computers but don’t fret; I’m still here! And hoping you are too. So I am rewinding to the rainy month of July. As I was returning to my village with all my baggage and myself atop a moto, we took the turn entering my village a bit too fast and slid out in the sandy gravel. Fortunately I was wearing my helmet and there were no serious injuries, just a moment of shock and a couple bad scrapes. After picking myself up I turned to see a herd of villagers running my way to see if the moto driver and I were hurt. I realized my leg and palms were bleeding so another man offered to bring me to the hospital to be cleaned and sterilized. By the end of the day, the rest of the village knew what happened and received many visitors that week as I hobbled around my house. (Disclaimer: Photo following, don’t look below if you get queasy at that stuff. And yes, I took a picture of the fresh wound at the health center. That was right after I stopped tearing up because the antiseptic stung so bad. The doctor was amused and told me I was interesting. I'm sure he meant it as a positive compliment.)

Because of how often I have to take motos as transport and the lack of safety here I figured the probability of an accident happening was just a matter of time. Once (hopefully) out of two years can’t be that bad, right? The worst part of it was the fear instilled in me for a month after every time I had to take a moto. My body would freeze up on the inside and nausea would take control. I have to admit I enjoyed a beer or two beforehand to stay relaxed. But that feeling has passed and now I feel comfortable traveling again. I am just much more conscious of who is driving the moto and his condition (drunk?) and the speed. It healed up fairly quickly but left a pretty big scar. I'm sure my daily treatments of vitamin E oil will get it lookin new in no time.