Thursday, September 18, 2008

School Begins!

The first couple of weeks of school have been chaotic, but that's to be expected. So far, I've had classes merge and my schedule change a couple of times. It looks like I'll have a couple of classes with about 70 kids in them, but so far, I've had no real discipline problems and my kids seem to be enthusiastic about learning. Hopefully, this continues because it makes my job easier. I love my colleagues; they're really nice and helpful. They love having conversations about life in the United States. Today, using "Franglais," we discussed the differences between Republicans and Democrats and the recent state of the stock market.

It seems I've got a bit of bad news: what I thought was a problem with batteries has now turned into a possible problem with my camera. It turns on for a couple of seconds and then shuts off. So I regret to inform you that I won't be posting photos of my house any time soon. I wasn't very happy, but I'm sure that's not the worst that can happen. Maybe I'll get someone to bring one when they come to visit me.

Last weekend, I went to visit my host family since it's been 3 weeks since I saw them. I'd missed them more than I thought, and I actually felt like I was visiting family. What seemed like a strange, foreign home in the beginning now seems strangely comfortable and familiar to me. My house at post is still pretty empty since the carpenter keeps putting off working on my furniture. Work ethic is definitely NOT what I was used to in the states. I see that every day. "Mais, c'est ne pas grave." I suppose one adapts.

I still continue to make my own meals and enjoy the comforts of some-what familiar cuisine, like stew! Yeah dad, I made my own roux! How about that? It came out pretty good, too. I'm also getting used to life in the village, like where to find certain things and who does what. There's about 10,000 residents in my village, and I'm pretty sure everyone here knows where the new white girl lives. At least, that's what it feels like. I keep hearing people yell, "Mekat" at me. That's "white girl" in the local dialect (Medumba) or so I thought. I actually learned today that the word means, "outsider who brings civilization." Skin color isn't a factor. I'm trying to learn some Medumba phrases, but it isn't easy to speak. And I'm still struggling with French. One thing at a time, right?

Well, that's it for now. Later, no? OH, HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM!!!! Love you!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Settling In

I know I promised a few of you guys some photos of my house and the village, but I’m in need of some batteries for my camera and it may take a few days for me to get some since the ones in village haven’t worked very well. Literally, I put the batteries in and five seconds later, the juice was done. I’m going to Bafoussam Monday, so I’ll look for Duracell and then, I’ll have some photos.
I’ve been here over a week and I’ve managed to have a few pieces of furniture made out of bamboo. Surprisingly, they came out pretty nice. There’s some more wood furniture coming next week. Wood’s expensive and more trees have to be taken down, so I think my house will appear a bit empty for the most part. But that’s the case with most volunteer houses, which have to be furnished for only a two year stay.
There was a meeting at the lycee yesterday so all of the teachers could get their schedules. I’ve been scheduled for Tues-Thu, and have four days off. Don’t worry; it won’t take long before I’ll start secondary projects. I’ll also have a French tutor and I’ll be preparing lessons for the Bac. Also, since it takes three times as long to complete domestic tasks (cooking, cleaning, etc.) I’m sure I won’t be bored. Even without class, I don’t feel bored. I’ve been doing a lot of cooking and reading. I’ve made some pretty good pasta sauces from scratch. There was an awesome potato and ham soup, but regretfully, I left a crack in the pot and it was attacked by ants overnight. I had so much left too… it made me want to cry. Thankfully, I have peanut butter, which I’d been craving since I got here. I’ve eaten a jar within a week. That’s one of the main reasons I’m going to Bafoussam (it’s the only place I’ve been able to find it).
The walk to school takes 15 minutes, and the path is absolutely gorgeous. It’s a bit of a climb but once I walk up the hill, there’s a stunning view of Bazou, the tall palm trees, and the hills. There’s also a brook that I passed and the sound of rushing water was comforting, even though I know it’s the monsoons that bring the water. Rainy season will be over next month and I can’t quite know if I’m anxious to see it go or if I’ll miss it. I haven’t met the dry season yet, so I’m reluctant to say goodbye to the rains (even though they can be a bummer).
Sorry, there’s not much to report. I’m sure I’ll have more to say once school starts. That’s next week, by the way. I tried to keep up with hurricane news and I sincerely hope everyone made it through Gustav okay.