I cannot lament enough how wonderful technology is! This past week was long, and there were moments when I thought, “what in the world am I doing here?” “Why did I give up hot shower/microwave/all forms of modern conveniences to learn a 4th language and to live in this outrageous place?” This is a wild place and despite my lovely fellow trainees, I crave bits of familiarity in my life. Thankfully, Bluetooth gave me that. Today, I talked to Mom, Megan and Laura. These conversations filled the cravings and now I have the energy to go on facing another challenging week! While talking to Laura, both the power and water was out at the house. Yet, I was iChatting on my pre-charged MacBook and my mobile phone was charging via a pre-charged solar powered battery. Laura, who’s been living in New York, said, “this is wonderful! It’s like you never left!”
On Friday, we were given our assigned companies whom we will advise while in training. I met with my counterpart and visited the establishments. My entrepreneur is probably in his mid-30s and owns a dry cleaner and a small shop that sells random items from suitcase to DVD players to fake flowers. We chatted for a while, and tomorrow I will return for a formal meeting. I am amazed at how much French I can come up with. There are times when I can’t describe a simple need to my host mom yet other times like conversing to this guy and finding out he studied mathematics in college, came from a town west of Baffousam, lived in lots of places in Cameroon, doesn’t like the big cities, but sees potential in Bangangté. Also he doesn’t have a formal system in what items he sells at the store and that he spends most of his time at the dry cleaner since there are more work to be done. Sometimes I get anxious thinking about getting my French up to par but then I remember there was a time when my English was worse than my cousin Karen’s Chinese. Then I feel better.
Here in the Peace Corps, we certainly are not all work no play. For safety reasons, our curfew is 7pm. Okay, that sounds absurd, but when the roads aren’t paved and it’s literally pitch black outside, 7pm curfew prevents me from falling into death traps. We’ve had the curfew extended twice over the past two weekends. I have a feeling someone will find some reason to get it extended at least once per weekend. The first weekend, we partied for party’s sake. But this past Friday, we had two birthdays to celebrate. Someone came up with this idea to make Enchiladas for 45 people. To spice things ups, power went out that night. The picture below doesn’t justify the scene since my camera has a killer flash, but I think it portraits the creativity that is required to cook semi-familiar food in developing countries.