Technically, it’s “winter” here, so I suppose it would be more like “winter blues”, which makes more sense. I’ve been feeling some severe waves of nostalgia as of late. Maybe it’s all the rain, but there is definitely a mood lingering.
I have been in Cameroon for over a year now and all along, there were people coming and going. For the first time, I am experiencing severe nostalgia of those first few months at post. Those few months when Juliette and Grégoire were still here, and there were constantly visitors or some sort of happening. Those were the happy days with lots of dinner parties, lots of dancing and well, lots of fun. I miss those days. Now, just me in the village, not nearly as much fun…
I so did not know how good I had it.
I am understanding loneliness to a whole different level. I laugh at the fact I once thought I was so alone in college because I was spending so much time either working or at the library. Those were the days when I still could call up a handful of friends at any given moment to meet for coffee or meals. Oh, what I would give for one of those meals with any of the friends right now.
You may ask, “well, don’t you have any Cameroonian friends? You’ve been there for a year!” My answer, “yes, but I keep them at an arm’s length” Why? because I get burned every time I let people too close. In the beginning, I hung out with a lot of the kids because I thought they were harmless – wrong. They stole from me, not once, not twice, but many times. I had to put an end to cookie afternoons and coloring sessions chez moi. For a while I was becoming closer to the moto guys who were taking me until one borrowed money from me and I had to twist his arms to get it back.
And then there are all the high school boys who are near my age (people are old here for school) and as soon as I become friends with them, they tell me they are in love with me and can’t stop thinking about me. Most of them don’t even know my last name. The flurry of calls and text messages makes me fearful of those friendship. There aren’t a lot of girls my age, and those that are either have kids or are always busy working in the farm or doing housework.
So there you have it. I have “friends” in village, but they are more like how I would define “acquaintances” back in the real world.
Having Interent, surprisingly, actually makes this problem worse. Yesterday, the Cameroon country desk officer came to my house for a visit. She was a volunteer here 10 years ago and she was marveled that I have a computer and Internet. She said they didn’t even have cell phones back then, and when she talks to her parents, she would said, “okay, we’ll talk again in 3 months.” Times have changed.
The Internet keeps me connected with the world, but it’s still not human interaction. Rather, it reminds me of all the things I can’t do. It’s a real tease that can push the loneliness over the edge. I recognize this is a phase that will pass. I am handling it. Just another aspect of life as a Peace Corps volunteer. I am most certain that after these two years, I can live anywhere in the world.