Wanderlust Wendy

Seriously? Seriously.

So, so much for posh corps. Finally, after two and a half years of possessing my beloved macbook, it crashed on me two weeks ago. And I think it’s because I installed windows on it and maybe it had an allergic reaction. Anyhow, so since I had such a smooth run with my macbook, I failed to bring the installation CD. I don’t think the problem is major, just need the disc to fix it. Lesson learned. I had a minor panic until I talked to my sister who said she’d send it to me via USPS Global Express Guarantee. The information online says 3-4 business days. I thought, “okay, I can handle this. I’ll have it by the end of the week.” Then when she actually went to the post office on Monday, they apparently could only guarantee delivery to my particular address in 8 business days. I then thought, “okay, I can deal with that. As long as it’s guaranteed.” 8 business days means the thing would’ve been here yesterday. I went to the post office – nothing. I had even befriended the ladies at the post office. They know me by name and said the truck comes in on Fridays and to return on Monday to check. Why I had such faith in the “guarantee”, I don’t know. Nothing is guaranteed in this place.

After my minor panic two weeks ago, I decided to embrace the solitude and returned to post. For the past 3 months or possibly longer, I have spent every single weekend, and some weekdays either hosting a dinner party, going to a dinner party, or traveling somewhere. It was time for some “wendy time”. I started reading – one book after another, alternating between Chinese, English and French. For 72 hours, I did not leave my house – a self-imposed house arrest. It was also during this period when I realized just how difficult it is to be left alone in this village. Each night, I couldn’t wait until the sun sets so the kids would stop coming by to bug me. I realized that I had somehow turned my house into a daycare/after-school activity center with kids coming by constantly either wanting to color, to “read” the magazines (look at the pictures), or to play ball, etc. Lately, I also started a savings club thing with the neighbor kids who come to fetch water for me willingly. I made an envelop for each of them and give them a small bit of change every time they get water for me. They have to keep the money in the envelope at my house, and in the future, they’ll see how much they’ve saved. It’s good for them and good for me, because now, I never have to worry about water supply. But I also have kids at my door every half an hour…

Life without computer was refreshing at first. I did a lot of reading, listened to a lot of low quality RFI (Radio France Internationl) through my cheap radio and music on iPod. Few days later, it was numbing. I still did my usual work and so forth. After a week, I started to get antsy. I started to have things I wanted to get done on the computer and research to do on the Internet. It was all bearable with a deadline in mind. But now, that deadline has vanished into mere nothingness, I am about to flip out. I suppose if I just remember that I am, afterall, a volunteer, and whatever pertinent work I have to get done can simply wait, then I would be okay. But, it’s oh-so-difficult.

Living life here puts a new meaning on the phrase “everything happens for a reason.” In the world where things can get done in a snap, where you are the boss of your own life, that phrase can seem a bit… philosophical and hippy-esque. But here, man is that phrase true. And it also keeps my sanity. If this was in the US, even small town US, I can either drive to an apple store, or have the disc UPS to me in a day. My computer would be fixed, et voila, life is back to normal. Here, there is absolutely not a single thing I can do except for WAIT. I just keep telling myself this is happening to me because I am to learned a lesson – always bring your installation CD -, to read more books, to have time to ponder on life, and to realize what life is like without computer, and how my fellow villagers are living without it. One life pondering thought leads to another, and before you know it I feel like some sort of zen-goddess crossing my legs and humming in peace.

But this whole thing could be a lot worse. Someone could’ve stolen my computer, and then I’d be really screwed. Or, I could not have had friends in Bafoussam who has a mailbox, and then it’d really take eternity for that disc to get to me. Or, all my electronics including speakers could be broken (like poor Juliette over there), and that’d really suck. This is merely some sort of twisted rite of passage where Juliette and Kate both went through it. When I started to freak out in the beginning, it was natural to them – it’s merely my turn.

Let’s just pray to all the gods in the world that I’ll get that disc in the very near future and my computer will work with that disc. To all the PCVs who served in the age before computers, or who opted to not bring one: you have my utmost respect.

2 thoughts on “Seriously? Seriously.”

  1. Ashia. Nothing quite as traumatic as laptop failure but Friday saw me close to reaching the end of my teather with assorted breakdowns.

    My recently bought fridge (which cost about a months allowance) broke down due to the low voltage that AES Sonel provide – to fix it was a further week’s allowance.

    Internet was down, power was intermittant etc etc.

    It really does run you down and continuously irritate.

    Good luck with it all – as ever you write so well and I can identify so much with your feeling. It’s easy to be hard on yourself whinging about the loss of a comparative luxury when people around you have so little – but having internet can be the difference between dealing with this and not dealing with it.

    Again you can remember that there are previous pre-internet volunteers who managed – but we are all children of different ages with different expectations.

    I wouldn’t even have lasted this long without my laptop.

    Good luck getting the laptop fixed.



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