Monday, July 14, 2008


Wednesday morning I headed south to Bazou (my future home) with the vice principal at the school I'll be working. It's higher in altitude and has lots of hills and if it's not foggy, you can see the mountain nearby. Honestly, the view in Bazou is absolutely beautiful. Bazou isn't very big and the market's kind of small but it's got a charm to it. The people were absolutely nice to me and I've already met several of my colleagues and several vendors in the market. The grilled fish and beignets are actually better than Bangangte. And there's a bar that serves the coldest drinks I've had in Cameroon thus far. It was pretty nice. Oh and the vice principal took me to lunch on my first day and I was served some mashed cabbage in peanut sauce with some kind of weird meat in the middle…turns out it was porcupine. I kept telling myself, "Cajuns eat weird meat all the time. This can't be so bad." And it wasn't terrible but definitely not my meat of choice. Some Cameroonians eat rat and I've seen them in the market and they're the size of small dogs. It's by far the most disgusting thing I've seen thus far.

I suppose I'm lucky because there's a couple who's already posted in Bazou. I stayed at their house during site visit. The purpose of site visit is for us to see where we'll be living and working so that we get a feel of what our life will be like for two years. The current volunteer there took me to see a house he proposed I live in. I love it. It's on a hill, has a beautiful view and lots of trees around it. There's a papaya tree, an avocado tree, and a guava tree. It's got three rooms and one bathroom. The kitchen, however, is not in the house but right behind it. I suppose this will take some getting used to but I don't think it'll be a problem. The only problem is that it doesn't have bars on the windows and I believe Peace Corps requires them. There are shutters that lock from the inside but I'm not sure if Peace Corps will accept this. My program director will be talking to the landlord to see if he can install them. If not, I think I'll have to find another house, which would be unfortunate because I really liked this one.

One thing I didn't like about Bazou was that it was freezing at night. Apparently it's that way from June – August. So I'm going to buy some warm clothing and a heavy blanket in Bafoussam tomorrow so I don't freeze when I get to post. The good thing, however, is that it's never unbearably hot in Bazou. The climate is pretty great. And during the dry season (October-February,) it's not very dusty at all, which is fortunate for me.

Another thing that wasn't very pleasant was my ride in a bush taxi, which is a late 80s model Toyota Tercel stuffed with seven Cameroonians and myself. It's pretty normal and I suppose I'll have to get used to it. The only time I think I'll be taking a bush taxi is to Bangangte and Bafoussam, which aren't long rides. When I head to Yaoundé or the beach, I'll be taking the bus. The bush taxis like to go fast too and there are so many turns and hills on way to Bazou. Needless to say, at one point, I shut my eyes and started saying Catholic prayers. I've got to learn how to ask drivers in French to slow down. As a matter of fact, that's just what I'll do after I write this blog.

So, my host mom could since that I was bit nervous before my journey on Wednesday morning and asked me if I was okay. I told her I just get nervous before trips. So, she packed me a crap load of snacks and later, she called the vice principal (since my cell phone doesn't work in Bazou) and asked how I was doing. I talked to her and told her I was doing okay… and I was okay but the funny thing is that I really missed her. When I returned to Bangangte, I somewhat felt relieved to be "home." It's crazy because when I first arrived here, this house and living style and language was so foreign to me that I never imagined I would become completely comfortable here. I thought, "Okay this is just where I'm going to be staying during training and then I'm off to post." But really, I've become a little attached. My host mom has been asking me since I got here if she could braid my hair and I've told her no every time, but today I was so happy to see her that I couldn't say no. So my hair's in braids and it looks really funny. My hair's layered so I've got hair sticking out all over the place. I can't wait to take them out, honestly. I hope she doesn't get offended if I wear a handkerchief over them when I go to Bafoussam tomorrow.

Okay, so I mentioned my phone doesn't work in Bazou. Well, it only works in a few spots in the market but its pretty crappy reception. And another unfortunate thing is that there are no cyber cafes in Bazou. But you have to remember, I joined the Peace Corps expecting that I might be able to use the internet once a month and I also really didn't think I'd be getting a cell phone. But as I mentioned before, I'm lucky because there have been volunteers in Bazou before and also I have trainers who work there, so they're able to share some conveniences (like the Camtel phone, which I plan to get before I leave on Aug 23rd). Another thing, I will definitely have electricity and running water. Though, every day the electricity is cut off for a period of time. That's normal all over Cameroon. No complaints from me because it's a luxury to have electricity at all here. Unfortunately, a couple of the Education volunteers heading to the north will have neither but they don't seem very concerned about it, so I suppose it's no big deal.

Every day there comes a deal of challenges along with a great deal of awesome experiences and somehow, it seems we just have to tread along. When you throw yourself in this situation, its sink or swim. It seems you either integrate or you don't. We've all had to find our coping mechanisms. Some of us haven't been smart in this regard but I find the trick is to get rid of the negativity and have a sense of humor. I had to learn that really quickly. And you guys know me. Many of you would consider me a pessimist. I would consider myself a pessimist, actually, but if you want to remain sane here, you have to find some serious optimism. When things get hard, I think of a really great vacation I plan to take after Peace Corps. I think of how great it will be when I get to see my boyfriend again. I think of how incredible a reunion like that might be. I don't think I'll be able to take my eyes off of him. I can't believe I've already been here over a month. It seems like the time flew by, but at the same time, it seems like I've been here longer than I have. It's hard to explain. It already feels like I left my life in the states a long time ago. How odd, right? So, who's coming to visit?