Earlier this evening, I was working on my post book for my replacement. This is a document filled with a wealth of information about my village and life in general in Cameroon – anything from the minor kinks of the house to where to buy grocery, my favorite bar lady, moto guy, etc. Life here isn’t so obvious, and it has taken me two years to really get the hang of it. As I was compiling this document, I became really, really sad – tears falling sad.
I am 23 years old, turning 24 in a few months. By the time I leave Cameroon, I will have spent approximately 10% of my life here. That’s not a small amount. These past two years were the longest time I have resided in one single place since high school. This wasn’t just some adventure to a foreign land for a few months, this was my life, for two years.
The key element that makes this ending so much more difficult than the rest is that I likely won’t be returning to this country for many many years. Most people in this village can barely operate a cell phone. Needless to say, I won’t be emailing with them or skype-ing any time soon, or ever. The neighbor kids have been coming by everyday and asking how much longer I will be here. They have a sad look on their faces and it breaks my heart.
The sadness is two-fold. Besides my village, wonderful people have came into my life – other Peace Corps volunteers, French volunteers, my Chinese family that have so graciously welcomed me into their home. While keeping in touch with these people will be easier than villagers, when I leave Cameroon, this chapter of our friendship will also end. We will go on our separate ways, and life will never again be the same.
This morning, Emmanuel, my moto guy and I got trapped by the rain at the lycée. It reminded me of last year when the exact same thing happened. And like the last time, I also forgot a book (I never learn my lesson). We were trapped there for over an hour, but this time, I embraced it. This would likely be the last time I will ever be trapped somewhere and unable to leave due to rain.
My life has been changed in a deep and profound way from these two years. I see humanity differently, appreciate everyday for simply being alive, and thankful for the simple things in life. When things get rough in the future, I hope to always think back on this period of my life when I was happy when I get the chance to take a hot shower or even just having running water. The excitement and relief when power finally comes back on after a long outage.
Life is short. Time flies. May events in life continue to shake and change me as they did these past two years.