Sunday, July 6, 2008

Cameroonian Gumbo!

Happy 4th of July all! Today was a crazy and eventful day. We prepared cheeseburgers and French fries. I actually cooked all the burgers but didn't mind at all because how often will I get to smell the incredible smell of ground beef cooking? It was amazing. We even had American style cheese, which apparently you can find in Bafoussam, a 45 minute drive from here. Those hamburgers were amazing.

Besides the burgers, I also had some amazing food at the mayor's house. There was fried fish, cucumber salad, shrimp, and meatballs on rice! We also had some pretty good French Bordeaux because the mayor's husband is French and loves a good red wine apparently. That meal has got to be the best I've had in Cameroon so far. I've been mostly eating rice, fish, and couscous. In the picture above, that's "gumbo," which is popular with couscous. It's definitely no Cajun gumbo but it's also not bad at all. I actually really like couscous. It's somewhat like grits, except softer and stays intact, perhaps like super thick mashed potatoes? I told my host mom we eat gumbo in Louisiana, and she was like, "I didn't know gumbo was eaten in the U.S." I said, "No, not the U.S… only Louisiana. And our gumbo is very different. It's also conveniently served with rice." She replied, "Well, Cameroonians like it with couscous." "Touché," I say. (And she thinks I want to touch the couscous.) Haha.

Also, on a really happy note, I found out my post! I'm going to be living in Bazou, which is 30 minutes south of Bangangte (where I'm training now, just in case you forgot). If I wanted to bike to Bangangte, it would take about an hour and 20 minutes. And if I wanted some real luxuries, like American cheese or real peanut butter, I could drive to Bafoussam to get them. I met a volunteer today who's living in Bazou, and she said it's beautiful. I'm actually in the middle of a lot of hills and even a mountain. The elevation is higher than Bangangte, so it tends to be cooler. I find the climate here to be absolutely perfect. I can maybe even say it's almost cold in the mornings? I mean I'm never hot here. I may actually need a fleece. Who the hell knew? Chilly in Africa? It's not making sense to me but hey, I'm not complaining. On a not so happy note, it looks like there are no cyber cafes in Bazou. However, the volunteer before me got a cell phone from Camtel, the "AT&T of Africa" I guess, and she got a plan through them where she could use her cell phone to get on the internet on her laptop. She only got an hour a day but wow, that's better than now because I get to visit the cyber like once a week for an hour or maybe two hours. Wow, with that kind of a luxury, will I still feel like I'm a Peace Corps volunteer? Uh, probably so, especially when I'll be heating my water and preparing my bucket bath. It'll still feel like Peace Corps when I'm reading by kerosene lamp at night because the electricity is out. Oh, the irony.

Besides the annoyance of slowly learning the French, I'm having a great experience so far. I just wish I could learn the language super quickly so I can say all the things I want to say. My thoughts aren't super simple statements like, "I ate bananas today" or "Do you like the weather today?" so when I actually want to say something like, "The reason I want to live in New Orleans after Peace Corps is because I feel like it's a city in need of everyone's help and I hope I can find a job where I can help the redevelopment of New Orleans," I'm screwed because I have no idea how to fully convey that in French. And my books don't help me. I can say, "I want to live in New Orleans after Peace Corps," and "I hope I can get a job there," but I can't yet get complex with my statements and it's driving me crazy.


Dana said...

Hey girlie- it seems like your doing fine and dandy over there! i'm so glad... but IF the french over there is like regular french, then this is how you say that long statement about new orleans. "La raison que je veux habiter à la Nouvelle-Orléans après que les corps de paix soient parce que je me sens comme it' ; ville de SA nécessitant everyone' ; l'aide et moi de s espèrent que je peux trouver un travail où je peux aider la reconstruction de la Nouvelle-Orléans" - i went to then babel fish, and it lets you translate into a million different languages. also, quick question, in the picture of the room with your laptop, is that carpet or dirt or something else? well have fun!!!