Friday, May 4, 2012


Well, I done did it again.  I have not put an entry in almost a month.  I’m at the case in Yaounde and its surprisingly quite.  Usually there is atleast a dozen people here passing through, doing committee work, or visiting the PCMO.  There is actually SED steering going on, but they’re in their meeting right now until 3.  Why am I here?  Because I’m going to be back on American soil in A WEEK.  It still has not hit me yet.  I’m going back home for my sister’s graduation, and of course to relax with my dearly missed loved ones.  
Getting here wasn’t bad at all.  From Batouri and Bertoua I took the first buses out and neither broke down.  There were plenty of stops along the way to pick people up.  I had 2 chicken at my feet from Batouri.  One of which pooped on my bag.  C’est la vie.  I got my signs all the way here without any damage and LaHomma and Kim loved them.  LaHomma is our Country Director and Kim is the Director of all 5 programs.  Both of these amazing humans will be leaving us in June which is a real bummer.  I hope whoever replaces them can fill their shoes.  I’ve only known them for 8 months and had a few conversations, but these are the humans that make things happen and do it well.  I have pictures of these signs on my fb.  I actually almost forgot the signs on the bus in Bertoua because right when I arrived I got a text from my post mate saying she couldn’t find where I left my keys.  I hid them in my yard so she could check on my house periodically when I’m gone.  This consumed my mind and by the time I got to the Bert case I realized what I left behind.  I rushed back to the agance and they were still there, thank God.  The dude who works for Alliance said someone tried to steal them, but he knew it belonged to the one white guy on the bus.  I did my banking in Bertoua just to get it over with before I came to Yao.  I take out as much money as I can from my bank.  I don’t trust it in there because of corrupt reputation this country has.  Banking is interesting here.
I don’t think I’ve shared my experiences with my bank yet so I will now.  I bank with BISEC.  PC gave all of us a list of “acceptable” banks to use for our 2 years here.  My bank doesn’t post it hours?  But I found out from speaking with the guards out front that they are from from 8:30-12 and then 2-5.  I was there at 7:45 after eating breakfast so I just decided to read so I would be at the front of the line to get in.  Front of the line because once the bank opens everyone rushes to the 2 only tellers to take care of their business.  During that time people slowly started showing up, and by 8:20 there were about 30 people waiting outside the doors.  The bank opened late, like 9:10.  This hasn’t happened to me before, but schedules don’t really exist in Cameroon.  When the other guard inside comes to the door to start unlocking everything everyone swarms to the door.  Luckily I was still in front.  People will try to weasel their way to the front, and more often then not Cameroonians don’t care.  But I do. “Que faites-vous?! Respecter la ligne!”  The more French I learn and the more I’m in country the sassier I have become, but it really is necessary here.  People speak loud and emotionally.  Its just how it goes.  I could go to the ATM, but it only gives the largest bills 5.000 and 10.000.  Those are hard for me to break in Batouri and also perpetuates that I’m a rich white man in Cameroon.  This is why I go inside and specify what bills I want.  Once I’m processed all I get is 10’s and 5’s.  I ask where the smaller bills are and he says they don’t have the money.  Don’t have the money?!  Your a bank.  But this is Cameroon.  Thats how it goes, c’est la vie.  The bank is the closest thing to nice here besides the embassy.  I always go to the bank in frip (used) clothes and look disheveled.  I’ve heard of other volunteers getting robbed right when they leave the bank.  Besides that tatic I always walk to the bank and then drop all the money off at the case right after.  There’s also a TV in the bank and people in line make noises like “aye, oy”, and click their mouth after a disappointing story about some other African country with problems.  Right now it seems like theres a lot going down in Africa.  One time at the bank there was this mama right up on me from behind while we were waiting in line.  Like both breast on the shoulder blades, so I broke wind.  Didn’t even phase her.  I have checks here that I haven’t picked up yet because I know it would be about a 2 hour activity to get something simple like that.  Customer service also really doesn’t exist at the bank.  When I banked in America it seemed like all the tellers were on Zoloft.  Everyone happy to take or give you your money.  Not here.  Straight faces.  Theres also a lot more protection in the banks here.  Guards inside.  Gendarmes outside with guns.  There is a guy who stands by the door to slide up and down the gate when you enter or leave.  Banking can take a long time, so if you ever find yourself complaining about your bank in America just be happy your not banking in Africa.  I’m sure if your a person with tons of money you get the proper treatment, but for the most part its comme ca.
So I left for the bus at 5 am Thursday to make sure I got a ticket and didn’t have to wait in line.  Waiting in line at a bus agance is even worse.  People cut every time and people rarely say anything.  The last time I waited to buy a ticket from Bertoua to Batouri I was in line for an hour and a half and got the second to last ticket for that bus.  The bus I took this time to YAO was the VIP bus.  Air conditioning, didn’t work, a bathroom, unusable, but the seats were comfy.  They also have a TV playing music videos the whole 6 hour drive.  I finally got to see the videos to the music I hear blaring outside my house in Batouri.  I slept most the way except with Stephanie woke me up for an ID check.  The gendarme stops buses to make sure everyone has an ID.  They breeze through the Cameroonians with IDs and scrutinize the white people who have IDs.  Thats how its been for my post mates and I.  They also make stops so people can drain the main vain, women too.  I forgot to mention Stephanie, my post mate, came with me to YAO to see the PCMO.
We arrived around 2 at the PC HQ.  I took care of most of my business to get ready to leave for the states.  Get my WHO card so they know I don’t have diseases, my no fee passport, my drivers license so I can drive a car back home.  Which I haven
t done in 8 months.  Dropped off reimbursement forms, checked for mail, and gave the signs to Kim and LaHomma.  They liked the gesture.  Cleaned up, ate dinz, and then copied some movies from other people hard drives.  Its amazing how many movies/videos/music are available and get swapped between PCVs.  One girl has the Billboard top 100 music from 1950-2004.  
Now it is friday morning and feels tres comfortable.  Its just 4 other humans and me in the case.  I’m going to miss the East regional meeting on the 5th, which is in Bertoua.  Plans for today?  I’m gonna write letters, finish this post, complete my VRF, and probably go on a stroll through Yaounde.  VRF is volunteer report form.  Every volunteer has to fill out a very lengthy electronic report about what they have done the last 3 months and what they plan to do the next.  Its very in depth.  We learned all about it at IST.  I would prefer that over the paper version that was phased out last year.  
I’ll be reporting mostly on the last month which was real busy for me.  Preparing everything before I leave for a month.  Thomas Marie (my CP) is a solid hard working human being.  I’ve said it before, but that dude does not fit the mold of your typical Cameroonian.  I hope to return to most of the TODO list check off we came up with at our last meeting.  All of this reporting goes to PC Cam HQ then PC Washington, and finally the government to evaluate the process and productivity of the PC program.  
Whats new/changed for me at post.  MEEP MEEP (my cat) is growing and becoming more of an outside cat.  She sometimes gets in fights with another cat who lives at a boutique down the road.  One day they were fighting on the metal bars that cover the windows.  My neighbors grabbed my cat and I told them through the window it was mine, so what do they do?  Chunk it over the fence into my yard.  She uses one side of my sink as a litter box which I’m cool with.  I wouldn’t even mind cleaning it up off the floor since its all concrete, but I’m happy she uses the sink.  I also got a monkey.  I don’t know the species or genus but I have a hommie PCV who is great at identifying animals.  I got him from Esperance, one of the institutions I work with.  I’ve been to Esperance multiple times and never knew they had a monkey, but the last time I was there pere Gaston pointed him out and asked if I wanted him.  This monkey was in poopy living conditions.  He was tied to a small twisted rope in a cage that most people would keep a small rabbit in.  Pere Gaston said they have had him for over 2 years.  After seeing all this I said I would love to take him.  His name is Africa.  He’s pretty docile.  He wasn’t so docile on the trip to my house, but I feel he's much happier in my front yard.  When I’m in the US I’m going to get him a harness and one of those running zip lines for dogs for him so he can move around more and get into the trees.  You know those zip lines for dogs who need exercise, but can be trusted to stay in the yard?  Comme ca.  MEEP MEEP hasn’t warmed up to Africa yet.  Africa doesn't really care about MEEP.  He acknowledges the creature but doesn’t really care.  He actually presented his butt towards MEEP the first time they met.  There are pictures on FB of that first encounter.  He also pooped all over the crib when MEEP was around, so those two won’t be in the house together again.  MEEP gets close to him when he’s outside to investigate.  I feel after 2 years they will warm up.  J'espère que.  My house still has a leak in the roof in my back room.  Rainy season has started and we’ve had some awesome storms.  With the tin roofs it gets so loud I can barley hear anything.  But its just starting, I hear its going to become stronger more frequently.  That also means power will be out more often.  I will see the flash of lightning and then the powers out.  I like it when the powers out because its quite except for the few electronic shops that have generators going.  There are also the huge stadium lighting that comes from STBK, the logging company because they have huge CAT generators.  It takes away from being able to see the stars clearly.  Speaking of power being out, I went out to eat dinner one night when the power was out and there was an important soccer game going on.  I don’t follow it much but I guess it was the finals.  There were literally 30 people outside about 5 different electronic shops that had generators watching the game.  Thats love for the sport, and the excitement that exploded after a great move.  People running in the street cheering.  That was a groovy first experience.  I don’t know the teams that were playing.   
Radom note.  Stephanie just reported that the Yaounde “dermatologist” diagnosed her and said she is allergic to the sun.  Seems weird, but she has to completely cover her body with clothes for the rest of service which will be quite uncomfortable with how hot and humid Batouri is.  She is also get 5 blood test done.
I finished two books.  It seems I always says the books I read were great and I highly recommend  them, but it continues with these two.  Deep Survival is a great book about what goes on neurologically to make a person survive.  Very well written with collection of great survival stories.  I just finished my other book on the way over here called Zeitoun.  Just read the wiki summary:  Reading this book really took me back to how terrible Hurricane Katrina was handled, but to read the personal experience of this man and his was eye opening.  Out of all the books I have recommended to read.  Read this one FIRST.  I also just read that it will be a movie in 2014 which I hope is truthful.  I started a book in training called Two Ears of Corn but didn’t finish, but my loving family sent it to me in a care package:)  Most AGRO post already have the book at their post but I’m opening one and a health volunteer was there before me.  It was written in the 80s, but its spot on for the topic of agriculture development in developing countries.  Hopefully I’ll finish that on the trip home.  I have a hommie from the South coming in today.  There’s also some cinco de drinko party going down in the East.  Glad to be missing that.
Oh, this past month my post mates and I also made soy and soy milk, both of which didn’t come out too well.  The soy wasn’t solid, but it still tasted great.  The milk was just bad. I think there was too much water in the mix.  I added cinnamon to it thinking it might make it a little better, but it just tasted like crappy lemonade.  I still drank it all because I dislike wasting.  But like scientist do, experiment.  I’ve got to get it down pat before Thomas and I start giving animations on how to plant it, processes it, and eventually use it as an IGA.  It will hopefully also help with the malnutrition problem in Batouri.     
Another random note.  You know Eddie Murphy has a song, #7, on Billboard’s top 100 for 1986. L'année je suis né.  I never knew that dude made jams.  He should stick to movies and standup.  Another interesting song New kids on the block - This one’s for the children.  If you want my body and you think I’m sexy, come on let me know!  Anyone know that song.  I love but don’t know the artist or name of the song.  
I should have put this at the beginning of the post, but when I left Batouri it was the Fait du travail.  It’s like labor day here, but they still celebrate the same as other faits.  Its done at the place de fait.  The put down the white walking lines.  Companies get T-shirts made and march with signs representing their business.  Comme many all the other faits everyone gets drunk to celebrate.  By the time I arrived in Bertoua I already missed their march but saw everyone with their tshirts.  People still work, but the hours just change.  Nothing changed for me when I took the first bus out.  I also forgot to mention how terrible the roads are getting.  I met the cheif at the depart of transportation, he liked my homemade wine.  He told him it will help him get his member up.  He was already a couple beers in.  His job is to maintain the road between Bertoua and Batouri.  I asked him if they ever level it out and he said they do it only once a year and in June.  I hope thats true especially since the rainy season has started.  The trip to Bertoua gets a little longer every time, but the plants next to the road are now green and flourishing again because of the rain.  I also see at least one overturned logging truck or other vehicle because they drive crazy down a crappy road.  I’ve said this before.  People drive crazy here, but its kinda like the chaos theory.  There is harmony in the chaos.  Definitely not all the time.  For example, in Yaounde with all the taxi drivers.  They are quite skilled at getting very close to each other without hitting, but the evidence there from scratches on the cars.
One more random note before I wrap this up that I forgot to mention when I talked about women’s day.  On the panya they had 2035 written as they day of success?  I dunno.  When Cameroon will become something so much better.  I don’t know why they picked that year, but I have a hypothesis.  I think Paul Byia just decided to pick a year that is so far ahead he doesn’t have to worry about actually meeting that goal.  He’ll be dead or replaced before that time.  Good political move.  I hope Cameroon is a better place come 2035, but thats 23 years away.  Imagine what Africa will be like 23 years from now, not to mention the world, but so much is going on this continent.  For those Americans on the 24 hour news cycle I’m sure your seeing all the change.  I rarely watch TV or see one in Batouri, so seeing the news is a trip.
I just got two packages from 2 SUPER solid humans!  Thank you Ralf and Kyle.  Made my Friday like you can’t comprehend: )  It’s 1 now and I’m gonna get some ef double oh dee and do the rest of my stuff today.  Du courage mes amies.  A la prochaine.    

Friday, April 13, 2012


So its Friday the 13th.  Its interesting how sorcery and mystical belief are such a large part of the culture here, but there is not “day of superstition” in existence, yet.  I should explain Friday the 13th to my neighbors when I get back to post.  Right now I’m just in the Yao case and its surprisingly quite.  Only Agro steering committee and a hommie for medical reasons are here.  Most everyone left for lunch after our second day of committee work.  Back up.
IST finished great.  It flew by fast because our days were scheduled just like training and the evenings were spent exploring Bamenda or socializing with les comrades we haven't seen in three months.  Or seen together as a group.  Our AGRO group has gone from 19 to 13.  The previous group of volunteers was 29 and is now 28, so our group is tres petit.  I won’t go into the details of why people have left, but our PM gave us some grandpa speech about how our program is holding the “black flag” since so many people have left our program.  Poor move on his part considering he was talking down to the 13 dedicated volunteers who are still in country and missing their friends who chose to leave or had to leave.  Their was an apology later, but it was like being talked to as children.  As for the IST work, it was beneficial, more so for the PCVs.  I think its necessary that the counter parts are there, but some of the topics were just flew over some heads.  Like Thomas, my dude.  He’s not highly educated.  Some sessions were more like college lectures that sometimes droned on.  It was all beneficial info, just some long days.  Nothing really to complain about.  We had great accommodations, beautiful views, our fellow Americans, and got to meet our new American PCMO.  Super solid human being from Hawaii.  She is the new permanent American PCMO that PC Cameroon has been searching for the past year.  We also found out our Country Director will be leaving in July.  Our Director of training will be leaving in June.  Our PC HQ will be changing locations as well as the Yaounde case by the end of the year.  The Agroforestry program no longer exists.  It is now the “Environment” program.  We were told to choose between the Environment or Agriculture program as the name.  Each had their own goals and objectives, but I feel the obviously blend together.  You can’t separate the two no matter how good your wording is.  I’ll go more into this when I get to steering meeting.  Our last day we had a session on what committees you could join.  There is a Environmental Education/Food Security, Gender and Youth Development, Youth Task Force, ICT (Tech stuff), and steering committees for every program.  The steering committees give the feedback that hopefully help shapes each program and progressively improve its qualities.  I’m on steering because they want someone from every region on our committee.  Our last sessions were “Best Practices.”  Thats where current volunteers come and share their personal stories in the field about what has worked, what didn’t, specific projects, collaboration projects, kinda like what you might read in their blog post.  
Other programs peaced out back to post on Sunday, but Agro’s stayed because we had a field trip planned Monday.  Id say more than half went to either of the beaches.  Especially the people from the grand North.  I don’t blame them.  They made the long trip down, why not take advantage of already being somewhat in the area to take some mental days before the 2 day trip back to post.  Shane and I got our hair plated.  Plated is how you say braided in pidgin.  Nothing was open Sunday but we had some barber as his homegirl to open up her weave shop to we could get it done.  I had some awesome shwarma wrap once mine was done.  Oh yea, there was also a club at the hotel we stayed at.  Called Club Rocket.  It was called that because they tried to make the front of the building look like a rocket.  It does, but without the pointy cone at the top.  I didn’t to go into the club because I only brought sandals to IST and it wasn’t “club attire.”  I don’t think I missed too much.  There wernt even mirrors in the club.  Maybe thats not an anglophone thing.  I also heard people had ringing in their ears the next days during sessions.  I was informed that there were people with cameras who would go around and film people dancing and it would be projected on the flat screens in the club, kinda like soul train.  But soul train didn’t have the TVs where they were dancing.  
One thing, actually two things, I really love about the NW region are the mountains and pidgin.  Pidgin is like an undereducated middle schooler speaking some very unique form of slang.  I’m very happy to be in francophone, but I think I would enjoy speaking more if it was in Pidgin.  Our field trip Monday was to the Nazareth agroforestry center and a mushroom center.  The Nazareth place mostly concentrated on raising animals and vegetable gardening.  Not too much on agroforestry techniques.  They raised chickens (for meat and eggs), rabbits, cane rats, and pigs.  Then they also had what I would consider a community garden.  They teach people how to grow and then give them their own plot to practice on.  It was a fairly small scale operation run by the Catholics.  The mushroom place had their work down to a science.  We watched a not very informational documentary on their group for 30 minutes and then took part in the whole process of starting mushroom spores.  This center is so popular Paul Byia even visited it.  They sell a bunch of mushroom related products that claim to do amazing things.  Mushroom milk?  I dunno what that was about.  They also made a delicious mushroom soup before we took the family photo.  After arriving back at the hotel I went out into town one last time to see if I could find anything at the frip, the street thrift store.  I had some Cameroonian say “whats up my nigger?”  Probably because I looked like Shawn Paul.  I just laughed because that blew my mind, au Cameroon.  I didn’t find any shoes at the right price.  I was looking at some Puma high tops from the 80s, but I lowball when bargaining.  I think it helps me out though since I shouldn’t be acquiring too many possessions here.  Especially since I’m addicted to panya.  Anyone ever heard of Settlers of Catan?  Wild game.  That was played pretty frequently.  That night I just talked with the remaining Agros, slept, and left at 6 am the next morning for Yaounde.  Got my braids undone in Yao because I couldn’t sleep in them.  I broke the rib on the case hoop because I was trying to dunk in HORSE.  I got to play ultimate frisbee at the US Embassy that evening which was a trip.  We played with the Marines stationed there.  We had to turn our cell phones off and leave them in the security building.  Go through a medal scanner and get our stuff x rayed at the airport.  There was lush green grass and landscaping on the inside.  A heated pool.  Golf course behind the embassy, not part of it.  I didn’t get to see the Marines house, but I hear its just like an American home.  They have a dock to receive all their American goods that get imported in.  It was a trip being there.  That and dinner were the last things I did in Yao before heading back to post.  Next morning Bertoua then Batouri.  Meep Meep was happy to see me.  Since coming back to post I jumped back into my regular routine.  Worked more with Thomas on his farm, planning on what he and his team will do during May, and catching up with friends in town.  
This past week and a half also went by really fast because I had to be back in Yao for Agro steering committee.  Which is where I am now.  Upon arriving in the case and having internet I saw an email from TIKI telling everyone I shouldn’t be coming to steering.  Once he saw me here there was no issue.  His reasoning is the East shouldn’t be represented because I’m in the only Agro in the East.  There is also “rule” that each region needs 3 sector members to have a representative.  I think its silly and there should be a rep from each region, which there is now.  I got grouped with the South region since no one wants to replace the current rep.  Business this meeting was about changing from Agroforestry to Environment, discussing FITU (Focus In Training Up), and changing wording so D.C. will like the new program goals and objectives.  There was a lot more stuff but I don’t want to get into those details.  We reviewed the good, bad, and discussed improvements for PST and IST.  How the committee is going to change with the new group of Agros.  Developing calendars.  We got a security PC Cameroon update from LaHoma, our CD.  
Crime is up in Cameroon.  There were 15 burglaries in the last year.  Some homegirl in the East had her house broken into.  But she went to the beach before IST and after, so she was gone for over a month.  I haven’t had any issues thank goodness.  I’m pretty prudent though, hence the guard cat.  Some official from D.C. is coming to visit and talk with volunteers in the West and North West because thats where most of the crime is at.  Talk with them to make sure they are “feeling” safe.  Its gotta be so hard to be Country Director.  I can understand why she's ready to leave in July.  I can only pray the next CD is as solid as this one.  I’m getting a local painter to make these Solid Human Award signs for LaHoma and Kim before they depart from PC Cameroon.  While I’ve got the internet I’m getting seeds sent to me from Trees for Life and ECHO.  I also tried signing up on but you need to pay and I have no US bank accounts.  OH.  PC Mali closed down.  Don’t know why?  Google it.  The current volunteers have the choice to go home or find other African countries that can take them in.  We are going to take some in, I dunno how many.  I dunno what I’m gonna do with the rest of my day here in Yao.  A lot of volunteers are going to Hilton happy hour.  Its a bar on the top floor of the hotel so you get an amazing view of Yaounde, but 5.000 for 2 drinks.  Its 5.000 for me to get from Yao to Bertoua.  I got my hair cut and bear trimmed so my PM will stop calling me Osama.  I think I looked pretty hood with a scarf wrap and sun glasses.  I’m gonna go walk around Yaounde for a bit and then probably come back and read.  Nothing exciting.  Oh, this is also my first time to stay in the case room that has A/C.  I havent slept under a blanket in months.  Maybe a bed sheet a couple of times but never a blanket since I’ve been in country.
24 more days until I head back to the U.S.  Thats going to be a mind trip going and coming back.  Just traveling to a developed area of Cameroon is a trip being away from Batouri.  Paved roads or sidewalks.  George foreman grills.  I can’t wait to be home but I’m wondering what its going to be like once I get back.  I’ll worry about that when it happens.  I got some awesome mail from friends : )  Thank you again.  Letters are en route so give it 3 weeks or a month.  
Google “Moon Tiger” insecticide.  Actually, it doesn’t come up.  Just some score card for a safety rating on Moon Tiger mosquito coils.  Moon Tiger is a company that makes an insecticide spray here and is probably illegal in multiple countries.  Some volunteers get a bad headache or other reaction after they spray and inhale it.  It kills the nervous system of whatever you spray it on, which doesn’t happen slowly.  So you spray a cockroach and it usually creeps off and dies somewhere else.  Now Meep just kills the cockroaches.  I wish I had a can with me so I could write down the chemicals in it, but its terrible stuff.  Another random thing, last week when I was walking around town I had some guy come up to me and try to sell a “diamond” which was a chunk of quartz.  I offered him a dollar (500 CFA) but no game.  My only plans until I leave the country are work with Thomas, help him recruit more people for his GIC, and get seeds.  I’m out for a walk now.  Peace out mes amies.  Nous sommes ensamble.         


I am sitting on a “leather” couch in my room at the AZAM Hotel in Bamenda, Cam in the NW region.  Just finished another delicious dinner offered to me with the other volunteers that are here with me for IST (In Service Training).  In service is training.  IST is something all volunteers PC worldwide do 3 months after being at post.  The all meet up with their counterparts for a week long conference where we get further training and share all of what we observed and learned at post.  I’ll come back to this, I want to start at the beginning of last week and end back up here, the present.  
Last Monday Thomas and I had our first meeting with the other farmer leaders of Batouri to get the information we would present at IST.  Develop the needs of the community, resources available, challenges to overcome, and future work plans.  We passed out 20 fliers and I would have hoped to get half of that but didn’t expect more.  I only passed out 4 and Thomas shared the rest.  14 people actually showed up to the meeting.  Not everyone showed up at 8:30 when the meeting started, which is perfectly normal.  After the meeting Thomas took everyone on a tour of his piece of land to show what he has and where things will be.  We didn’t finish until 11:30.  Thats longer than I expected, but its great.  I though it showed these people we interested, engaged in the conversation, and will hopefully be coming back.  It consisted mostly of neighbors, bee specialist, moringa specialist, and aquaculture specialist.  Thomas is the local soja expert.  I havent seen much soy grown in Batouri.  That will hopefully change if the public develops an appreciation for the plant and want a changed.  After that I had my lunch and then read about the medicinal plants and trees we want to use on his farm.  Tuesday wasn't anything special, just my Fulfulde/French class and Thomas‘ work day.  It was poopy because neither thing worked out, which was cool because my stomach wasn't feeling good.  I think my gastro-intestinal issue is coming back up.  Its groovy though.  I’m getting a blood and stool test done at HQ on my way back through Yaounde to post to see if there is anything living in my body.  I still dont feel 100 percent.  My tummy gurgles frequently.  When I went to that class the teach never showed up, Mohammed.  When I went to Thomas’s he was too pooped to do anything for our workday.  So we talked about when we would meet up the next day to put our poster together.  We also talked about travel plans to Bamenda.  I got a ride from Stephanies counter part who has a car, but he was leaving Friday evening and Thomas couldn’t make that.  Wednesday I meet up with a different Thomas who is the chief du Camtel.  Thats the dude I met on women’s night.  He wants to work on his english, so I could said we could both help each other out with that.  He would speak english to me while I would speak in French and correct each other.  I showed up and his voice was almost gone.  We spoke only for a bit and then I got a picture from him that was took at Women’s Day of us.  I wanted to get a copy from the print shop.  I found out he lives in the Camtel building.  A small perk of being the cheif.  It sucks because his family is in the West region so he is here alone in the East.  They had the space for him in that building.  Its one of the biggest buildings in town but is completely empty.  I think 1 office is in there, his living quarters, and a lot of empty rooms.  There 1 1/2 radio towers at the building (one is not finished).  Once I get cooler with Thomas I’m gonna see if I can climb up with towers to get a bad ass shot of Batouri at Sunrise and Sunset.  I told him we’ll hang out again when I get back from IST.  I had a French lesson that afternoon, but my teacher was in Yaounde and didn’t tell me.  As much as nothing really went as planned this week after Monday, it was groovy because I wasn’t feeling 100%.  Later that afternoon I went over to Thomas’s to put together that poster.  I got the supplies and pictures printed earlier that day.  Imagine who I find at Thomas’s asleep on his village bed?  Mohammed, the dude who teaches the Fulfulde/French class and it also my tailor.  He was in Yaounde which is why he wasn’t at the class. He also hasn’t finished my clothes which he’s had over a month now.  I wanted to show my spring collection of Panya at IST:(  Thats also groovy.  I have 4 more different patterns to get transformed into fly outfits.  Thomas and I got everything on the poster: map of his new farm layout, map of Kadey district (showing where his GIC works), photos, and the information collected on Monday.  He asked me for 5.000 to travel.  I don’t ever give Cameroonian’s money, but I knew PC was reimbursing his travel and that he didn’t have the money up front.  He paid me back no problem now that we’re here.  After that I went to what I thought was going to be a dinner at Fati’s.  Fati is the wife of the guy who owns two big boutiques in Batouri.  Janelle and Jessica were invited and they extended the invitation to me.  I was the first one there and nothing was set up for a dinner and there was just some werid guy there. Weird because he looked like a creeper.  Tight pants (zipper was open), tight shirt, slick jerry curl looking hair.  I found out he is in somewhere in Fati and Ali’s family.  He’s living with them until he returned back to Chad.  He’s trying to find diamonds so he could become rich fast. A millionaire.  He got some kids to get us all drinks and kept saying he didn’t know why Fati wasn’t showing up.  He also gave off a creepy vibe because he kept asking for Janelle’s phone number and was talking about visiting her or calling her.  Janelle told me about this guy creeping on her sometime before this event, but now I had a face to match up to the stories.  We left at 7:30 to go and get some food.  I got a package and a letter that day!  Exclamation point because I want to try and relay the excitement and happiness I felt when I got them.  The contact from those 2 solid humans made my month.  Tons of pictures to add to my walks and some chocolate to eat.  
Thursday.  I know I don’t usually break my post into paragraphs.  Sorry if that bothers any readers.  Those who read this probably know I’m not the most skilled writer and just brain spill when I put up a post.  Thursday morning there was an open house at the school Jessica works at, Lycee Technique.  Or there was supposed to be.  I showed up an hour after it was supposed to start and it was pretty empty.  I ate my breakfast while I waited for 30 minutes to see if more people show up or doors open.  Students were supposed to be out showing their work or skill.  Carpenter kids with their furniture out, girls with dishes they cooked or clothes they had sown.  Nothing changed so I walked home.  Side story, that morning a guy asked me to buy him 2 donut hole (binget)  I spelt that wrong which is why i put donut hole.  It started out like most conversations when someone ask me for something.  A simple salutation and right to the demand.  I respond the same every time.  “Why do you ask me for money/something the first time you make an introduction with me?  You don’t even ask me my name but ask me for money/something because of the color of my skin”  Same response “Oh no, its not like that”  “Its exactly like that.  (This guy was pretty intoxicated and it was 9:30 in the morning)  How come you have money for alcohol but not for nutrition?  I do not understand your reasoning.  Maybe you can work and buy your own food.”  My momma even backed me up and told the dude to leave because he was derranging the people here.  Anyways I walked back home and started a new book called “Deep Survival”.  Another very interesting book I recommend to a person looking for a new book.  I did a little cleaning up of my house and yard.  Janelle called me up and said she was at the restaurant we eat at and that kitten is there.  Next thing I know I had a cat in my house.  She brought home the stray cat for me.  I’ve wanted this cat but the lady who owns the restaurant has always been like “I dunno whose cat that is.”  Right now Janelle is taking care of her and her name is “Meep” or “Meep meep” if you’re excited.  In recognition of Beaker on the Muppets.  Meep is a very loving cat who licks my hair and rubs all over me.  She also loves my yard and being outside.  At 4 pm that day I had a meeting with this dude name Paul who works at STBK.  STBK is the huge logging operation in the East.  The largest in Cameroon I believe since most of the trees are located in the East.  They have another company under its name in Mindourou.  Paul is in charge of the reforestation project they have.  Its very small compared to the rate at which they harvest.  They don’t even plant the main species they chop down, the high priced wood.  STBK sells solely to Italy and they make amazing furniture out the red wood out here.  Justin, the owner of STBK, has a showroom with amazing hand-made hard wood furniture.  I was happy with what I saw a decent start.  They want to plant 20 million baby trees on their plantation, which is ~40 hectares.  I haven't been to the plantation yet.  They only have 6 people working on the reforestation project.  The project was started in 2009.  The definitely need more people but probably won’t get any more because Justin is a businessman.  I told Paul to think about what work I could do with him and his team while I’m gone.  There is some lady who will be in Batouri when I return who works on the project too.  I can’t remember her exact place in things, but she oversees what is being done by Paul and his team.  I need her and Justin’s permission to work at the pipenier.  I’m sure I’ll just be giving manual labor help because they know how to build and run their own propigators and harden off baby tree’s to go in the field.  It will be good experience for me and maybe I could convince Justin to replant the species of tree he cuts down the most.  Thursday was also the day that the Duchies were having a going away dinner.  They left Friday morning.  I was going to go, but didn’t because I wasn’t feeling better.  Not enough to dance.  I watched a movie called The Kite Runner instead.  I would also recommend people to watch that movie.
Friday.  That day was slow.  I didn’t do much but spend the day prepping my house for my 10 day absence.  Asked Benjamin to keep an eye on the house and record the numbers on the electricity counter while I was gone.  Cleaned all dishes, buckets, whatever.  Swept up some and packed all my stuff.  I was leaving with Pere Gaston at 6.  Janelle met me at my house just before 6 to grab the cat and keys.  Pere Gaston actually didn’t show up until 7, no prob since it was a private ride to Yaounde.  We got to go down this private road that I’ve heard about multiple times from other volunteers.  Its for Justin’s logging trucks.  He built it when his company started up so they wouldn’t share the same road as the agency buses.  It helps shave a couple hours off the trip.  Within 30 minutes on that road we saw an agency bus on its side when we came over a hill.  Probably because they came over that hill and coasted down to fast to keep control.  It was a 6 hour trip.  We stopped at hour 5 for food and a break in Ayos.  We stopped on the last 2 hour stretch so Pere Gaston could take a wizz and when he tried to start the car nothing happened.  Luckily we were on a slight downslope.  I got out and pushed for a bit until he could get the truck to start.  A little before Ayos is when we hit paved road which made the trip more comfortable and sped it up a little bit.  One interesting this is they would have a city with its name crossed out on a sign on the left side of the road and on the right they had the name of this city you were entering.  So you could know which town you just left and which you are entering.  We passed through like 5 check points on this road but got waved through all of them.  They usually stop the bigger trucks hauling products.  I think we had to pay 500 CFA at one, but that was like their toll booth.  Right after that toll booth there was about 20 meters of people just selling pineapples.  There were hundreds of pineapples on both sides of the road.  This was around midnight.  We got into Yaounde around 1.  I got at PC HQ just past 1.  1 is supposed to be the cerfew for PCVs, but I got in without a problem.  The case was empty except for 1 other person from my stage.  Everyone else went to the US Embassy to party with the Marines at their house for St. Patty’s Day.  I skped with Logan and talked with Abigale.  People got home at like 2.  I surprised a lot of people.  It was good to see people from the north, extreme north, and just anyone not from the East.  There were about a dozen people from my stage staying at the case before we all peaced out Bamenda.  
Saturday was a rest day for me in Yaounde.  I ate at some Lebanese restaurant.  played basketball, wrote letters, and walked around Yao.  I messed up.  At this paragraph I was called down to the lobby to interact with my fellow humans, so I set this aside to come back to.  I didn’t until a week later so I’m going to wrap it up here and start another post for how IST finished and why I’m in Yaounde for steering committee now.  Nous sommes ensamble.

Saturday, March 10, 2012


Gosh wilicures its been a long time since I’ve updated this but Je suit content!  It’s a full moon tonight, and I haven’t written about awesome events that usually happen with me on full moons in a good while.  Good things have happened frequently on full moons for me even thought the crazies come out as my mother would say.  I also had a very special person send me a message of how amazing the universe really is and it revealed itself to me today: )  So its been over a month, so much has happened in this past month, but even more so today, so I’ll start off with today before I delve into what I’ve been up to the past month.
Today is Women's Day in Cameroon.  A day where women are commended for their work and life, kinda like mothers day, except for everyone with a vagina.  Lemme start from this morning.  I got up and had my hired help, Harris, come over while I did work outside.  He did a kick ace job as usual.  He’s been asking me to buy him a phone instead of paying him cash.  I ask why and he says its because he spends his money on food and doesn’t know how to save.  I can’t buy him a phone because anyone who buys a phone in Cameroon has to have it registered to their ID card.  I explained that to him and told him that he should save half of what he makes each month, 2.500 CFA, for his phone.  He asked if I would hold on to it for him.  I asked why and he said he would spend it on food or other things?  I told him he needs to learn how to save money, but Janelle had the same situation with her hired help, so for the time being I am copying what she did.  I told him I would hold on to half of his pay until it reaches 10.000 CFA, then he needs to learn to save on his own.  Since that will take 4 months I’ll have a good amount of time to talk out the importance of saving and not blowing your money on whatever.  It will also help my french, which Harris has done each time he comes over to work.  I practice my french while he practices english, more so me practicing french.  
Stephanie came over to drop off her stuff before she departed today for Limbe.  I’m close to the place de faites so it didn’t make to watch the parade, go home, pick up all her stuff, and then wait at the agency.  Homegirl is going to Limbe with a couple other hommies before IST as a time to relax.  I decided to stay here to set up a program with my counterpart, save money.  I will have my relax time come May, and another year after that, so no rush for me.  She dropped her stuff of and then all the volunteers met up to watch the women’s day parade.  Back to that.  Its a day to celebrate women.  All the women, representing different groups, get their payna made up in all different styles, march in groups, and then hit the bars all afternoon and night after.  Its supposed to be a day where the men do the “women’s” work while they get to relax.  But really a majority go out and get celebrate all day and night.  They drink, dance, and sing for the next 24 hours.  But some ladies get a little too hammered.  Like today I would walk by groups of women saying “Bon faite!” (happy day for you) and would get yelled at.    Things like, “Go home, this is not your day” or “give me money, ect”.  The city was busy but the marche was empty.  Some women were respectful and nice when I wished them a good day, but most I encountered that afternoon were groups who were like the cool kids in high school.  There were also the french girls who work at College Barry, the private school where I take my french lessons every Wednesday, at Women’s Day.  These french girls are also volunteers who serve 6 months at a time.  One is an accountant for the schools and one teaches.  I met them for the first time last week at a dinner I was invited to.  (I know I’m milanging (mixing) todays events and whats happened over the past month)  The dinner was at the home of a solid, 2 solid, human beings named Ali and Fati.  They own 2 boutiques here that sell whatever your need.  I ate a fantastic meal.  Cabbage salad, chicken, fried plantains, cous cous de manioc, and koko.  There was also bread and they even brought me a new bottle of water.  With some Cameroonians‘ the hospitality is unbelievable.  I dunno if its because I’m white and they know I’ll be here for 2 years so they want my business, but I really feel they are genuinely kind hearted human beings who want to share a meal and rest with people of a different culture.  In Cameroon, when you get invited for a drink or meal the inviter always pays.
I wanna take a moment to share a quote I read in my, “Roles of the Volunteers in Developent” book given to me by the Peace Corps:
“...people in Western civilization no longer have time for each other, they have no time together, they do not share the experience of time.  This explains why Westerners are incapable of understanding the psychology of sitting.  In villages all over the world, sitting is an important social activity.  Sitting is not a ‘waste of time‘ nor is it a manifestation of laziness.  Sitting is having time together, time to cultivate social relations.”  -- Andreas Fuglesang
I will disagree with this statement to a certain extent, but to a greater extent its true.  Voala! Facebook.  People are so busy to keep up with all their “friends” so its just easier to mass message people about whats going on in their lives, post photos, complain about something and then forget about it enough to do something about it.  I’m guilty of it.  Facebook is a unique communication tool, but people in America really don’t just sit, rarely, and talk compared to undeveloped countries.  Between FB and anything made my apple developed nations are filled with millions of people in their own world wanting to share it with everyone through an electronic device.  Snail mail is a great example too.  Who takes the time now in the 21st century to write a message on paper.  Most don’t because of urgency or convenience.  I tried to write letters and make birthday cards as much as I could in college and it was a great stress reliever for me.  Its also a great surprise in the mailbox in between things that should be recycled or bills.  I’ll say it again, mail is gold to me here, so thank you to the human’s who continue to take the time out of their day, an hour or 2, and pay less than $2 to let me know whats going down in your life.  It is greatly appreciated.  I have a collection of letters in the states and I’ve started a collection here.  Its great support, along with the pictures I get.  Thank you mes amies.  Nous sommes ensemble. 
When I say Americans don’t just “sit” I mean aside from families inside their homes.  I mean communities/neighborhoods.  At least for me.  Most people have their high security fences.  Like their privacy.  Stay inside.  There is the occasional bi-annual block party.  People will have their lunch/dinner dates, go get coffee, ect.  But I remember when it was difficult to get people together for potluck dinners in the community garden at A&M.  Just seeing if people could spare the time to make a meal and meet up at a common place to share a meal and talk.  I think a big problem with the world today is that things are moving too fast for our species to comprehend whats really going on.   
The difference here is what I observe.  Outside most days in my quartier are adults sitting and talking.  Making food.  Kids playing.  There is no denying there is a severe lack of work in Batouri, specifically for the youth, which might be observed or interpreted as laziness.  Kids drop out of school early because of costs or girls get pregnant early.  But having a conversation is something that is done well here, but its usually done over a beer.  
For example, every Tuesday after my French/Fulfulde class Ahmadou takes Stephanie and I out to lunch.  So he graciously pays for our delicious lunch every Tuesday.  He is also my tailor, so it makes me feel low to bargain prices for clothes he makes for me.  Different story.  Lunch is somewhat awkward.  We all serve and eat in silence, I try to start conversations, but once the food is done is when conversation really starts.  We dive into different subjects. Polygamy and drug use in Cameroon vs. America was the last discussion we had.  
To go back to a point I started earlier with dinner at Ali and Fait’s.  They invited all the volunteers and the french girls over for dinner.  We all ate and then just talked for 2 hours.  We talked during the meal and after, and my western self wanted to just leave because I ate, I felt I had no more reason to be there, I’ll see y’all later.  But I relaxed and tried to participate as much as I could in the french discussion.  A good part of it was about fashion, I was the only male besides Ali, and how exposing ones self is disrespect to the female body.  The subject was fashion because the TV was on during dinner on the fashion channel here.  Fati and Ali are Muslim.  I agree with them.  I think its pretty obvious how messed up of a world young girls are growing up in, both in developed and undeveloped countries, but for different reasons.  Developed because computers make people look like they shouldn’t setting expectations that are unattainable and can be explained by the movie Mean Girls.  Jobs are created for people to help girls/women with disordered created by the idea that they are not “beautiful” or “acceptable” in their society.  Thats bizzare to type.   Undeveloped because of early pregnancies that pull girls out of school who have no means to provide for their children.  If you don’t know what breast ironing is but google it.  See why its popular in Africa.  Or genital mutilation of women.
It was kinda bizarre sitting in Ali’s house watching a fashion channel, a whole channel, devoted to fashion.  Showing whatever season is in with cloths that cost more than what people make in a year here and the people wearing them get paid to look a particular way down the length of your average American driveway.  The world is so weird.  I like that its weird, I think diversity is good, but some aspects of the human society are SO bizarre.  I mean a designer comes out to bow after all his models display his thousands of dollars of work and he is celebrated for his “unique” craft.  Wild.  I’m a guy, I obviously don’t understand the “benefit/beauty” of developed countries fashion.  But I do know how beautiful panya is.  Thats fashion for me.  Amazing colors and patterns and can be transformed into anything you want by a local tailor.  
I get off on too many rants, back to today.  I came home from the women’s day celebration and made invitations for the meeting Thomas, my counter part, and I want to have next Monday.  We are pulling together his neighbors, farmers, community leaders, anyone who is interested in turning his farm into a demonstration ground for agroforestry practices.  I spent a good amount of time making things neat, making sure my french was correct, and stamping the invitation before I went to go make copies.  Thats when I started to get derranged (bothered) by the women from women’s day.  No problems though.  It cost double the price, 50 CFA, to get a copy made because the electricity was out and they were running on generators.  I handed out 4 to people I knew and I left the rest to Thomas to pass out over the next 3 days.  I missed lunch and grabbed some yogurt and a baked good from the boulangerie.  I also stopped by my friend Mohammed’s shop because I had not seen him in over a week and he gets upset if I don’t see him in a day.  We talked for a bit and I bought some panya.  I have 4 types of panya to get made.  I’m addicted if I havent mentioned that before.  There are just some times I don’t want to miss the opportunity to have a particular kind.  I would get them made, but Ahmadou my tailor, takes his time with finishing work for whatever reason.  After Mohammed’s I went home and prepped for work at Thomas’s.  I set up a schedule with him to work at least 2 hours every Tuesday and Thursday starting at 4 in the afternoon.  I haven’t mentioned how awesome Thomas is or maybe I have.  He has a sizable pice of land where he cultivates Moringa (an amazing tree), soy, medicinal plants, raises fish/chickens, and grows other legumes/fruits.  Today we cleared the future soy plot of weeds and started his compost pile.  Most people just burn leaves or whatever could be composted and returned to the earth.
Another side story from this month.  Last Wednesday I participated in Janelle’s handicap kids class.  She meets these kids every Wednesday and presents different topics.  This month its science/environment.  So she was talking about the importance or recycling and not littering wherever you please, which almost everyone does in Batouri.  She did an exercise where she broke the kids up into groups and gave each group a bag and 5 minutes to fill it with trash.  It took less than 5 minutes because trash is everywhere.  I was surprised at the number of kids who were grabbing hand fulls of leaves and grass to put in the bags as opposed to wiskey sachets, laundry detergent sachets, or plastic bags which are everywhere.  They really didn’t grasp the concept of what breaks down back into the earth and what takes decades, or never, to decompose.  Then we talked about what possible things you could do with trash.  I stuff things I can’t burn into plastic bottles to make “bricks” that I will use to outline my garden.  I think I might have mentioned that before.  But the woven marche bags can be used to tie batton de manioc or tie bamboo structures.  Plastics can be woven together to make bags or otra chose.  Usually all trash is just burned here in a pile that someone starts somewhere on the side of a road.  There are household private trash piles, secluded area trash piles, and town trash piles.  Back to this class and the lady who started the group.  This lady, Pauline, is this ship.  She runs the group of kids because she has adopted 13 kids.  Pauline helps Janelle run the classes each week.  She herself is handicap and started the GIC Amicale des Handicapes de la Kadey a Batouri (AHBRI).
Back to Thomas, we cleared his land, started a compost pile, and then discussed plans for his farm.  He drew up a very swell map of what he wants his land to look like, something to present the group on Monday and at IST.  Then we walked around and talked all about his land, potential ideas, problems, resources available.  All the things we will need to present at IST.  We have tons of ideas and A LOT of work to put those into action and make them sustainable.  Which is why I am excited about Monday.  I hope things go well and there is a good turn out.  Thomas said he could get 20 people, but I already passed out 4 invitations.  I anticipate 10 will show up, which is fine.  We just need to figure out the needs of the people of Batouri, the resources available, the challenges, and where to go from there.  
Thomas also showed me how to sharpen my machete.  It’s funny because the very first article I read from “Sticks and Stones”, the Agro newsletter, was about how proud a PCV was that he could sharpen his own machete and how he was complemented by Cameroonians on how he kept it sharp on his own, which took him a long time.  I thought the first article was a joke but I appreciate knowing that local knowledge now.  Its nothing difficult, but it was a good time of bonding.  Learning how things go down in Cameroon.  This whole first day of work was a great time of bonding.  Much more laid back than my days of helping run the community garden at TAMU.  Things were so specific.  Dr. Novak’s an amazing person, but I do appreciate the laid back simple hard work of Africans.  Thomas, I think, is like 50 but he’s pretty swole.  Why?  Because he eats simply and works every day.  I’ll need to get a bunch of before photos of his land before the real changes take place. 
Another side note.  “Chop my money”.  You tube it.  That song is on right now and I don’t think I’ve mentioned how much it plays here.  All day every day.  I wake up to it, I fall asleep to it, I heard it when I’m reading books.  I forget who its by.  Something like PK squared.  Its playing right now which is why I put another random note.
Its early Friday morning now and I need to sleep.  I’m going to cut it off here, but continue tomorrow because much more happened today.  Today was a busy and interesting day................................
It is now Saturday morning and I am house sitting at Janelle’s because her house cleaner is coming over but she had to be somewhere else.  My plans today are clean my bike, make a birthday card, research trees, and prep for Monday’s meeting.  I’m happy I have my bike here now, but as an American I get deranged even more.  Its groovy.  People are people, I like inducing smiles even if its at my expense.  I brought my GPS here so I could ride around in the early mornings and map out Batouri.  I tried getting this program that will tell you when your GPS will get the best signal (date and times) based on the satellites orbits, but it doesn't work for Mac.  Since I got my bike I got to take a small trip with Jupiter to this huge rock formation where Catholics come once a year in August for Mass.  People from all over completely fill this huge rock coming out of the ground and there is a little church stand at the top.  
I forgot to mention the end of Women’s day.  I was invited to dinner with a group of people by Janelle.  Janelle knew one person there who she works with.  We both got to meet this dude who is the chief of CAMTEL in Batorui.  CAMTEL is the government run telecommunications company here.  MTN and Orange are the other networks.  Orange in French.  I dunno what MTN is.  Anywho, he wants to learn more english and I want to learn more french so hes going to show me around the huge Camtel building next Tuesday.  One of the biggest buildings in this town and only 12 people work there.  They have a huge antenna too which led me to believe they were well established here, but that is not the case.  Thomas, chief de CAMTEL, has just been here for over a year.  He is from the West region of Cameroon, but was moved here to help out CAMTEL in Batouri.  I’m going to wrap this post up here.  Hopefully in the future I won’t wait a month before my next entry so I can not make things so lengthy.  I make notes of what to write about or cultural topics to bring up, but this post is already so long.   

Monday, February 13, 2012


This post will be about the first two cultural events I got to witness.  A celebration of bilingual week and Youth Day.  Bilingual week is supposed to be a week signifying the importance of knowing both french and english in Cameroon because it was colonized by the French and the British.  Each year has a theme and this year’s theme was “Bilingualism for responsible citizenship.”  Jessica, the ED volunteer, had some of her kids perform a skit at the lycee bilang where she works.  Schools all over Cameroon celebrate this week doing things like debates, soccer games/ other sports, skits, songs, poems, faux news reports, and dances.  We only went to the celebration on Thursday at Jessica’s school, but there was also another celebration Friday at the place de fait. Usually clusters of schools will meet at one school to do whatever actives were planned.  There were three schools that met at Jessica’s school that Thursday.    
  It was scheduled to start at 8, but ended up commencing around 10.  All the student’s desks were put out for the audience (students), there were chairs for the officials in the front rows, and a judges table for 3 individuals.  I don’t know who they were.  I don’t know where to begin.  They commenced the celebration with the Cameroonian national anthem.  On the program it said they would sing it in french and english, but it ended up only being in French.  Students here have a deep lack of respect.  Once the events started no one got quite, maybe a couple of people.  People talked continually throughout the actives or yelled out things to derange the people performing.  The skits were consisted of messages of why it is important to know english.  The poems were usually about why education is important or had some kind of  religious message. The dances and songs dominated the schedule.  Most of the dances were pretty risqué too.  A lot of hip and chest movement, both with men and women.  It was bizzare to see teenage girls showing their backside to display how well they could move their hips after there was a poem about Jesus.  All of which was encouraged.  The  kids were cheering for these excellent dance skills.  Sometimes a girl would come down and get down right in front of the school officials.  Its all normal here, but I found it very bizarre.  I couldn’t follow the skits or most of the poems because all the students were just talking in their own world.  It seemed like a waste of time to me.  The faux news reports were all the same.  Each school had to perform the same one which was about 15 minutes, too long for the attention span of most of the kids.  We didn’t get to see Jessica’s skit because we had to leave at twelve for another meeting, but she didn’t mind.  She said her kids didn’t do that well anyway.  I’m missing quite a few details but this was a while ago and I really don’t have many positive things to say about bilingualism week.  The PC teachers I talk gave the same consensus that the students don’t really care about performing well.  Bilingualism week is kinda like “dead week” in college before finals.  Theres no school except for practicing for the celebration.
Now Youth Day.  Youth Day is supposed to be a celebration of the next generation of Cameroon.  This celebration was a lot bigger because schools from all surrounding villages of Batouri came out to march in a parade.  This parade was in front of the place de fait.  Another instance where things are supposed to start at one time, but usually run an hour late.  I forgot to mention what the place de fait is.  Thats an open structure that is just a place for officials to sit.  The schools/orgranizations spend an hour or two lining up and getting ready to march while the spectators line up on one side of the road.  The opposite side of the road from the place de fait so they don’t block the site of the officials.  There are 4 white lines on the main road, kinda like a track at the Olympics, so the people can walk in a straight line.  On the spectator side there are police and gendarmes with belts and batons to whip kids if they get too far into the road.  Not everyone from each school gets to march in the parade.  I don’t know the selection process.  On the other side, place de fait side, there are officials in suits making sure people march in lines which seems to be one of the most difficult tasks.  It was rare to see any school or organization match together in an organized fashion.  There were schools, muslim schools, nurse schools, teacher schools, organizations against rape, organizations against corruption, groups of people who looked like cheerleaders, one band, a private high school, a women’s group that Stephanie marched with, and many more.  The whole parade, once the marching started, was about an hour an a half.  As the groups pass the officials they turn their signs representing their club and hold out their left hand horizontally, kinda like a salute.  Each school or group was yelling out a song of some sort.  Some schools had their students with ribbons tied on the wrists of their left hand.  I couldn’t discover the significance of that.  Maybe just some flair.  The teachers who were marching with their students had on their flyest dresses with embroidery.  Between the teachers and the officials in suits kids were constantly being yelled at to be a certain position so they were aligned vertically and horizontally.  
Does anyone remember dragon sticks?  The things that were popular in the 90’s?  They were popular with the older kids at my day care.  I saw two guys with those in the parade.  There were also kids on the side lines yelling at the students marching deranging them.  Once the parade finishes the older groups or organizations go out and drink to celebrate Youth day.  Stephanie was invited out to go drink with her women’s group after the parade.  Drinking is a big part of Cameroonian culture, but these celebrations just give all the more reason to go out and drink.  
I’ll finish this with the main mode of transportation here, motos.  Motos are just motorcycles.  But the cheapest kind you can find from China.  They cost between 400.000 - 800.000, the average ones.  Theres no real “rules” for becoming a moto driver.  It seems like anyone can buy a moto, just post up somewhere, and wait for someone to ask for a ride.  I know in Beartoua, the regional capital, there is a certification that drivers must pass to get a green vest that shows they are “legit”  Some wear helmets but most don't.  Most moto trips cost 100 CFA, but sometimes 150 CFA at night.  I know in Batouri its always 100 CFA night or day because the town is so small are there are moto drivers everywhere.  Being white some moto drivers will try to ask for more money and give bogus reason why it cost more.  All you have to do it walk away because they won’t do anything.  I’m also impressed with what moto drivers can load up on their crappy bikes.  I’ve seen goats, pigs, 6 50 kilo sacs of cements, motos on the backs of motos, furniture sets, motos with 4 people including the driver, motos taking 4 kids under the age of 8 to school.  Motos with a guy dragging 4 meters of rebarb behind them.  I’ve seen motos carrying 6 crates of beer.  Africans make it work.  There is also a good chance your moto driver is drunk.  I’ve seen it multiple times where moto drivers are sipping on whiskey sachets.  No laws against that.  There is also no real age limit to drive motos.  I’ve seen muslim kids in Beartoua on motos who looked like they were 13.  Their feet could barley reach the ground when they were on the moto.  There is a good reason why PC requires its volunteers to wear helmets while on motos.  Moto drivers also pay to get like a custom leather covering for their gas tanks ans seats.  They also somtimes keep the bubble wrap over the parts of their motos to keep it clean as long as they can.  Decorating motos is also popular just to make theirs‘ stand out from others.  Flowers or little sticker pictures.  Not much more for now.  I’m about to meet my community host and counter part.  Toodles for now.                           


Its been a while and I have a lot to share, but I’ll start off with the random event that finished my day of work.  I just came back from meeting a potential counterpart with Steph and her host country hommie and we stopped at a bar to get some juice.  We were talking for a while and then a dispute broke out over something.  I think this dude had a tab and wasn't going to pay it.  He was very intoxicated and was a grown man.  He was arguing with a girl who looked to be 18 or something.  I heard a slap from outside the bar so I started to pay attention.  Then he started to grab her shirt and she grabbed his.  Thats how fights seem to go around here, from the ones I’ve seen.  Each person will grab each others’ shirt and hold their arms stiff and just kind swing each other around.  Then the dude grabbed her throat and I got up to separate them.  Other people in the bar just watch.  Thats another thing I’ve noticed.  Cameroonians usually don’t get involved until its escalated into a fight.  I got them separated and assumed the girl just left to get a way from him, but she ended up grabbing a bottle and trying to hit him in the face.  At that point I just left because other Cameroonians came in.  Then the guy started yelling at me and went crazy, throwing a tantrum like a child.  He’s yelling loud at everyone while taking his shirt off.  He threw his shirt on the ground picked up a glass and threw it at his head, but it bounced off and just broke on the ground.  Then he started crying and smashing his head on the metal door that closes the bar.  Thats when Ahmadou suggested we leave.  So we all left and he just kept yelling.  In Africa, at least in Batouri, no cops show up.  They have “jungle justice” here.  Jungle justice is if someone steals something from you and you yell out “vouluer! Vouler!” (Thief)  There is a high probability that people will hear that and then attack the thief.  Not just attack, but beat the life out of him.  It may be more applicable for Cameroonians or white people in large cities, but thats how things are taken care of out here.
Quite a bit has happened since I got over giardia and went to Beartoua for the regional meeting.  I got back to post at the beginning of February.  When I was walking through centre ville one day there was this old lady, probably drunk, who was just dancing in the middle of the street.  I think thats a cool freedom because no body cares and there are no police or gendarmes to take her away to the “sidewalk”.  People can just do that here.  Cameroonians atleast.  In centra ville any electronic shop blasts music on their speakers, all with different songs.  She was just getting down in the middle of the road.  Radom note: did y’all know Seth Rogan is in Donny Darko?  He’s the friend of the bully with the mullet?  I also saw 16 candles for the first time and noticed in the opening credits 2 high schoolers were holding pinkies.  Was the cool in the 80s?  It sure is cool here.  I hold hands with dudes all the time in market now.  Actually, 3 main dudes.  I think they are showing off that they are close enough to the white person in town to hold their hand.  Or maybe its just simply a sign of friendship.  I’ve also been told by my female post mates that Cameroonians ask where Sampson is.  “Ou est votre frere Sampson?”
Culture experience.  Lemme talk about bus rides.  I might have touched on it in a previous entry, but I’ll go in depth here.  I’ll use my last trip to Beartoua as an example.  I wake up at 6 am and grab my bag that I packed the night before and head over to the agency.  I get there and wait in line to buy my ticket.  There are 3 separate counters, but each counter sells tickets for 2 or 3 cities/villages only.  So I get in the line for Beartoua and Kenzou.  Lines also don’t really exist here.  People cut and its just part of the culture.  Cut anywhere.  At the bank, grocery store, buying credit for phones.  I dunno if its people trying to show how “macho” they are (males and females both do it).  So when I do get to the counter I say where I wanna go give my ID and money and she writes me a ticket with the bus license plate one it and a number.  We ride in old prison buses out here.  They use the prison buses Eastward from Beartoua, the regional capital.  They have another type of bus, I forget the name, but its not used much because it goes slower on the crappy dirt roads.  I also don’t remember the name of the company that makes the buses, its starts with an S, Sacam?  They put 5 people to each row, sometimes 6, and there are 5 rows.  No isle way.  A seat folds down to be an isle seat.  There is barley any leg room and the seats resemble the cushions of those cheap floding stadium seats you can bring to ball games.  Babies in laps and always an odorous person.  Odors don’t bother me.  Makes me more comfortable when I break wind.  There are usually 2 people from the agency who ride with each bus, the driver and then the “woker”.  The “worker” for the agency either stand behind the back row, stand on the back bumper outside the bus, or the stand on the top of the bus holding on to the straps that hold down all the luggage or goods that are strapped.  I’ll get to the top of the bus in a minute.  By “worker” I mean the person who changes the tires, opens the back door for ID checks, load and unload luggage, or work on the engine.  There are also 4 places in the cabin up front.  One for the driver and 3 for more passengers.  The engine is right under the middle seat of the cabin, so there is a lot of vibration and heat.  Lately whenever I sit in the back with everyone else an employee will tell me to move to the front for a cabin seat which is more comfortable.  It seems they only put white males and “grands” in the front.  White males because they made Stephanie stay in the back.  “Grands” are the important Muslims, the ones who have been in the game for a while and have the fliest boubou outfits.  I don’t mind because I barley have leg room in the back, but I don’t like to perpetuate the stereotype that the “white man” always gets a better seat.
Buses also don’t leave until they are completely full.  A bus may be scheduled to leave at 7, but may not leave until 8 because its not full.  Its more of a problem for afternoon departures.  So the top of the roof.  People are moving all sorts of products.  People go to regional capitals to buy products that smaller towns don't have, or to just get them cheaper.  They have any kind of animals, 50 kilo sacks of grains, rice, petrol, or gas bottles, ect.  Motos, and all sorts of bags.  The space that takes up the roof luggage rack is usually equivalent to what could be fit inside the bus.  Once everything is loaded up and everyones on we roll out.  Going out of and coming into cities we pass check points with gendarmes.  Gendarmes are like the “military” here.  Most all are corrupt.  The white people always have to show their IDs.  Sometimes its everyone.  If a Cameroonian doesn't have an ID they fold up a piece of paper with money in it and give it to the guard.  A small illustration of corruption.  The ride itself is pretty bumpy and very dusty.  Bumpy because of all the traffic from logging trucks.  There are some stretches of road that are like ruffles potato chips, some with big dips.  There is no left and right side.  There is usually one path that both directions take, and when two buses/cars are  traveling at the same time they just space out a bit but are about 2 feet within each other.  Going up hills is like 5 mph, and going down hill is pretty fast.  I don’t know exact speeds because I haven't been on a bus yet where the gauges work.  The buses will stop for people who just wanted to get to their small village along the way to the larger cities, or they stop if someone wants to buy something on the side of the road.  They just yell at the driver to stop, buy their food or whatever product, it gets thrown on top and then we continue.  Once people start leaving the bus for their village there are also people waiting by the side of the road to hitch a ride to the big city if there is room.  They usually get picked up, but sometimes the driver picks up too many people.  That was the case on our return trip to Batouri.  We were about 10 km out going up a hill and the bus just died.  I waited with Steph for a bit, but then decided to walk the rest of the way.  I have faith in Africans and their ability to jimmy rig anything, but I didn’t want to wait beyond the 30 minutes I already had.  The bus did get fixed and they picked me up 2 km outside of Batouri.  Another thing about the dust on bus drives is the African spray tan.  Everyone gets sooooo dusty.  Jersey shore tan.  You could take your fingernail and scrap off the dust and draw pictures in your face.  There are also signs in the bus that say “Throwing up, spitting, and talking to the driver are forbidden”.  Most of the tires have different patterns because they just put on what works.  Even the replacement tires on the roof of the bus are old and sometimes close to bald.  Another things is we usually have to take 2 breaks so the driver’s “worker” can add new water to the radiator so it doesn't over heat.  I believe most of the drivers are Muslim so they don’t drink, or shouldn’t.  I’ve  heard from people in the North and Extreme North that the Muslims drink, just in private.  Its only 100 km from Beartoua, but our trip usually takes 3-4 hours.  On the bus people like their music.  There are usually 3 people who are playing their own music on their telephone for everyone to enjoy.  A lot of Rhianaa.  Buses honk when there are people on the road walking from village to village so they step off a bit as to not get hit.  Its usually people who went out collecting wood or are bringing back clothes after washing in the river.  I really am impressed with the durability of these buses.  These are also jus the small buses.  There are large charter buses that go from Yaounde to Beartoua or other regional capitals.  PCV’s are told never to travel at night because of highway bandits.  We have a really solid human here in Batouri who runs the Alliance agence in Batouri.  He always makes sure we have a safe departure and return.  At least with our buses we don’t have the problems that are in the west with very diverse topography that makes traveling hard during the rainy season.  I’ll have to see what traveling it like during rainy season here.
Another thing I really appreciate about Cameroon is how most things can be custom made.  Security doors, furniture made out of solid wood, shoes/sandals, grills, shops.  I got some nice leather sandals made for 7.000.  I wanted some for my bou bou outfits.  I also got another pair made just to wear around because I get made fun of for wearing my “babouches” (shower shoes) all the time.  I do it to look poor, but they wear down pretty quickly.  But this other pair of sandals is too small.  Its cool with me, helps me bargain down the price.  The same people who custom make shoes fix shoes.  If anything detaches they resow it.  Or you can get your shoes reenforced before they break.  Thats like 500 CFA, just a dollar.  There are people with established stands and there are also people who travel around with their tool box looking for work.
I’ve also mentioned this before, most every product can be bargained.  Which I love because I’m frugal.  It really comes down to who has a better argument or puts in more time.  I also bargain down the price for my fish or tools from the hardware shop.  First of all, the original price given is much high just because I’m white.  So when they give me a price too high I just low ball them and explain I’ll give them a price too low since they think they can give me a price too high because of the color of my skin.  Sometimes the vendor just gives up and asks for the money I say I’ll pay.  Or I’ll make deals, like I get these plastic trash cans to make wine in and tell the dude to give me a good deal on them and I’ll give him the wine I make in them.  Two other good techniques is just walk away or say I’m going to another vendor.  Or it could go the other way and the vender just says leave.  Its all a game.  I Love it.  For more established stores, not boutiques, prices are set and cannot be bargained.  But established stores are weird.  You pick your products, go to a guy that write you a receipt, then take that receipt to another guy where you pay and get that receipt stamped.  Then another guy records the money received in a log book.  I’ve only seen computer systems in regional capitals.  
I’ll finish this entry with photos and how much Cameroonians‘ love photos.  There are always group photos of GICs or when any group of people meet up (organizations, friends, celebrations).  Developing photos is one thing, but there are also these photo studios.  They have both 35mm and digital.  Black and white or color.  In the studio there are these weird backgrounds.  Like waterfalls, jungles, egyptian pyramids, a fancy looking house with a Benz in the garage.  They also have flowers, chairs, and other accessories to accent your photo.  I decided I want to get head shots of PCVs that visit me or Cameroonian friends that I make here.  Silly pictures.  Good memories.  Things I can laugh at and reminisce about when I need a cane.  It only cost 500 CFA to get the photo taken and developed.  If you give the digital files of photos is 300 CFA to develop.  Cameroonian’s like photos of themselves.  When I was in PST there were a couple of the language teachers with pictures of themselves as the background on their computer.  I have also noticed in some houses of Cameroonians I’ve been invited to that they have pictures of themselves.  I dunno why.  Maybe they felt they looks super fly and want that to be a reminder to not loose it.  This is already a long entry.  I’ve got two cultural celebrations to write about that were both bizarre.  Bilingual week and Youth Day.  I’ve got pictures from both for fb, but I’ll write about that after I visit Mindourou.  Oh yea, I’m finally gonna visit where my community host lives.  I am blessed to have my post mate Janelle accompany me on this trip so nothing is lost in translation when I try to discover what work is actually possible in his village.  I leave this Sunday, the 12th.  Wow.  In about a month is will be IST.  Toodles for now. Du courage Americans.  I’ve heard how crazy some things are in America.  I’m glad to be in Africa except for the fact that my loved ones are across an ocean. 

Friday, January 13, 2012


I’ve been back at post for a couple of weeks and its my usual siesta time, but I’ll share some thoughts instead.  I found out the Tobacco man of the east will be coming out the 16th.  I think our last post mate Janelle will be returning at the end of this month.  Also at the end of this month we, the East, have a regional meetings where all volunteers meet up at the regional capital to discuss how things have been going at post and what possible collaboration projects we could do.
Some new things.  I have some hired help.  Originally there was an older man named Beroko who worked for the previous volunteer in this house, cleaning and doing laundry, but he is now a chef.  He asked me if he son could do the same work.  I didn’t want the help but he doesn’t go to school or have other work, like most of the youth here and in all of Cameroon.  I didn’t want him here as frequently though.  The previous volunteer had Beroko come by 8 times a month, so twice a week.  I have his son, Harris, come by twice a week, but only 2 times a month.  He gets paid 5.000 CFA a month.  My place is now not as dusty during the dry season and he cleans my clothes better than I ever have.  He's 22 I think.  He’s coming by tomorrow actually, and he actually shows up on time, which isn't very African.  But he also lives right across the street.  By recommendation of my parents I have also started a daily recount journal.  Not really a journal, but just what I did that day.  Thank you mom and dad, the idea has been facile and beneficial.  I think it will also be nice when I am old to go back and read about all the random things I did day by day.  I have a blog, but these are mostly rants or observations of culture.  I am also using the awesome journal my sister gave me as a gift right before I left : )  I Love and miss you all very much : )  
I bought a couple of street DVDs one night and have only watched the music video collection of Michael Jackson (like 20 videos).  Let me enlighten you on how random some of these illegal street DVDs are.  One DVD called “Pirates de Caraibe 3” has all 3 Pirates of the Carabian, The Medallion with Jackie Chan, Walking Tall with The Rock, Sin City, and National Treasure.  The second DVD has 8 Arnold Schwarzenegger movies.  Thats usually how movies are sold here.  Either by genre, or by actor(s).  My last DVD is 4 movies by Stallone and 4 by Chuck Norris.  Everything but the Michael Jackson DVD is in French, so I figured it would be good listening practice.  Let me get back to MJ though.  I don’t remember a lot of MJ music videos, maybe the big name ones that are recreated for talent shows, but his videos are wild. Or bizzare.  Like BAD.  Super unique which I like, but I didn’t fully appreciate his style of creation.  It makes me want to see “This is IT”.
I read a book called “My Life as an Experiment” by A.J. Jacobs and would highly recommend it.  This is a book that was sent to me by my awesome Bybee.  I feel I would get along well with A.J. and look forward to reading his other book that was sent to me.  He just puts himself into different experiences and reports about them.  I like putting myself into experiences as well, comme le corps de la paix.  
I don’t know if I’ve shared this before but street manicures are popular here.  I don’t know the cost, but there are individuals who walk around clicking scissors to get peoples attention who need their nails tidied up.  Must be interesting to see hands all day, and feel different hands all day.  I usually see the Muslims getting this work done.  I’ve also only seen it on the hands and never the feet.  
In PST I did a presentation on the Neem tree (the magical tree) because its an awesome species.  One fact I brought up was that its popular to use the young stems as a tooth brush, especially in India.  One morning I saw a guy walking around rubbing a twig in his mouth and he confirmed with me that it was neem.  Called it the “La brosse au Afrique”.  Side note.  I love how popular salutations and good byes are here because of the variety of selection.  Its going to be weird to go back and visit America with that sense of friendliness with strangers and it be accepted, for the majority.  
One night for dinner I was having fish and baton with Stephanie and I saw some stuff gong on behind the fish mama stands that caught my curiosity.  So while my fish was cooking I got up to investigate.  One place, where I thought kids were playing foosball, they were playing craps.  Everyone was very inviting but of course I had no interest.  The next was a theatre.  But it was a porno theatre.  At least at night it is.  I walked in through the curtain and theres porno playing on a 90’s TV with a bunch of benches and men in a dark room.  They all yell at me so I peace out pretty quick.  I asked my friend Omar and its a theatre throughout the day, 100 CFA per showing, but they just save the dirty stuff for night time.
When electricity goes out here, which has been happening more frequently, people can go to boutiques and pay to have their phone charged.  The boutiques with generators bien sur.  100 CFA a charge.  Or its also popular to charge your phone at the travel agencies.  There are just open outlet plugs where people get to mooch off of.  
Another interesting thing, in the clothing or sheet market area shop keepers will spread water on the soil in front of their shop to keep the dust down so their product looks good.  This is because dust is everywhere during the dry season.  I like getting to pee on the side of the road and watch a plant turn green again because my tinkle washes the dust off.  This is another reason why washing shoes is so popular.  I usually wear my bathroom sandals or Chacos out and my feet always come back gross.  Shoes area really big here, like status wise.  I don’t know if I’ve mentioned that before.  Which is why its important to keep your shoes looking fresh and cleaning them probably daily.  I don’t yet, but assume I will.  I’ve only cleaned my Chacos a couple of times and my mountain boots after the field trip to the NW region where we had to help push the bus up a hill.  I bought some nice “leather” sandals to wear with my bou bou ensembles.  Since they’re made in China I need to take them to a shoe dude to reenforce the work so they actually last.  
The local water spot recently broke as well.  Its not a pump forage, but just a spout that people fill their bidons and buckets at.  I don’t know why its broken, my neighbors say its because kids play on it all the time.  I think there’s more too it.  Anyways, I am blessed at my post because I have a well that has a pump in it to move water to this water tower that is then gravity fed into my house.  There are maybe a handful, < 5, other houses that have this in Batouri.  My immediate neighbors asked to use my well so they didn’t have to travel to the other forage to get their water and I had to deny them because they then word would spread out that the white man opened up his well to the neighborhood.  Its also really deep and empty since its the dry season and in my post book a previous volunteer mentioned that they let their neighbors use the well but when the bucket dropped it hit and broke the pump.  So a large sum was paid to replace the pump.  Getting asked for water, money, or a way to America has become very common.  Kids usually ask for 100 CFA.  Adults ask for a “financier” for a project they want to do or just for work.  Then some people apparently have money, but need help getting to America.  I have no idea how that works so I just tell them to visit the embassy in Yaounde to find out the process and application.  I need to load a picture of what it looks like from my water tower just so you get an idea of what its like to live in this house with all its amenities.  Initially over sight visit I thought I would like all the space, but now its just too much.  I am surrounded by traditional houses with earth bricks and subtle tin roofs, but most have electricity and even satellite TV.  Omar, my breakfast homeboy, lives in one room with a bed and shares that with another dude who I guess is a friend.  Having this place makes me very hesitant to invite people over.  There have been quite a few people who insistently ask when I’m going to invite them over to party or just to visit and I just say “one day” or “patience”.  Patience is the common phrase if someone is sick or not doing well.  “Just have patience and it will be ok”.
My community host, Hubert, who lives in a small pigmey village called Mindourou, actually came to Batouri for a visit.  I didn’t get to see him over site visit because there was not enough time.  From Batouri its about another 3 hours on the prison bus and if I miss the bus in the evening I’m spending the night there I would assume at his place on the floor.  Well, last Sunday I get a random call from him at about 8 am saying he will arrive in Batouri in about 30 minutes.  About an hour later he shows up and one of his sons is with him.  I found out his son lives here in Batouri to go to school.  So I assumed Hubert came into town so we could meet with the institution he works, CODAS, with together and come up with some ideas, plans, maybe a visit to his village.  We walk to CODAS and its closed like most places on sunday.  Apres ca we head to my place where we can rest for a bit, since he just traveled for 3 hours, and come up with a game plan.  The plan was, meet later that evening, for dinner I guess, and visit CODAS Monday morning at 9.  Time is very different here so I knew it was going to be around 11.  I wait at my house all evening and never hear from Hubert again.  I actually end up falling asleep waiting for him and wake up around 11 pm and get into bed.  The next day I get up ready for the meeting at wait until about 11 and then head to CODAS to see if he was there.  When I saw the guy in charge of CODAS I asked if he’s seen Hubert and he said “Oh, hes in village”, but I informed him that he came into town to visit.  When Hubert arrived he informed me he would be leaving here Tuesday so I figured the meeting was not going to happen.  I called him up Tuesday night to see if he got back to village ok (He has a village phone, its 1 phone for everyone to use in the village).  Someone else answered and said Hubert would call me back.  He calls me back and says he’s still in Batouri.  So I make another attempt at setting up a meeting.  I ask him if he could meet at my house tomorrow morning, Wednesday, and we go to CODAS to discuss possible work.  He says sure, we’ll meet at 9 and head up there.  He also apologized for not making the last meeting because he was too tired.  I’m making the assumption he was just spending time with family here because he probably doesn't get to see them often which isn't a problem with me.  I waited until noon Wednesday for Hubert at my house.  I didn’t call him this time or go to CODAS.  I feel if he’s not going to put in the effort in a meeting, he’s not likely to put effort in the possible work that could be done in his village.  I haven’t talked to him since.  I told him I would plan on visiting his village at the end of the month, but I would like to do with Janelle whose french is much better than mine.  Its a 6 hour round trip and cost 3.000 and I know my french wouldn’t comprehend most of what would be brought up.  Hubert only has like 12 teeth and he speaks very quickly.  But then I remembered our regional meeting at the end of the months, so maybe it will be early February when I visit. 
I would like to thank everyone who has taken the time out of their day to keep in touch, write a letter, or send a google text.  It makes a big difference.  The loneliness has sunken in for me after this first month.  I get out explore, try to make conversation with people, explain why I’m here.  But I finally feel the “fishbowl” effect that was constantly described to us throughout PST.  Being in such a large “different” house doesn’t make it any easier.  Its also a time period where we aren't doing much but integrating.  Thank you again, it really makes my day.        
One last random thing before I end; I saw a chimpanzee today when I was walking around as someones “pet”.  I’ve seen other “pet” monkeys around, but never a chimpanzee.  All I really got to see was this lady bothering the monkey and treating it like a child whose been in trouble.  Yelling at it and trying to hit it with her sandal and then laughing.  All thats going through my mind is that monkey biting this ladies calf or that story where the huge chimpanzee in America nearly ripped that ladies face off.     
Nous sommes ensemble et du courage.