The one trait I’ve strengthened during my time in Peace Corps is to think VERY quickly on my feet to accommodate all sorts of unexpected situations.
Weeks ago, while preparing to begin my second round of business classes, I got approval from the Secretary General at the Mayor’s Office to use the meeting space. I delivered a protocol letter with exact dates and time. The Mayor signed it. I got the OK.
Last Friday, Mr. SG told me I need to switch keys with him because there is a church event taking place this week and I would need to use the smaller room. Not a problem. I figured it’s just a sort of meeting or another.
Yesterday afternoon, I arrived at the carrefour at 4pm and I found a band set up in front of the building entryway. They were prepared to blare some serious gospel music. I had 30 minutes until my class begin. Oh Crap. If you’ve ever been to any Cameroonian event, you know when it comes to music, it is about quantity (how loud can we blare it) and not quality. And if you’ve been into any kind of Cameroonian buildings, you know soundproof does not exist.
For 15 minutes, I walked up and down the carrefour feeling frustrated that no one informed me of the happening. I went into the bank, and my counterpart happens to be the one organizing this event. I asked him if the Mayor knew about this musical glory happening at the same time as my class. He said, “oh yeah”. Then I looked at the flyer, and of course it was not clearly stated that there would be a sort of concert taking place at this time. I proceeded to give Mr. SG a call, and naturally, he had no idea of this. Great.
4:25pm. I walked into my class and explained the situation to my students. We decided to rough it out. By closing all the doors, we were able to keep the noise out somewhat, and I carried on teaching them basic accounting. Ironically, the last class was about goals and action plans. So I pointed out how this is a perfect example of poor planning, and they agreed.
I left my class feeling amused and somewhat entertained when I saw all the villagers dancing to the gospel. I am not sure how much gospel they really are absorbing, and how much they are just there for a good time. Either way, the ambiance was fun. And once again, only in Cameroon.