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Fete du travail. We went to the Parade this morning. Stayed in the shade on the balcony chez Peter.
It was a good party at work; some drunk, some tipsy, dancing all. Good fun. Beinvenu was at half-mast calling all forces to be presentable with a wave of malaria. Magloire made ice and brought it for mom to drink whiskey. She was thrilled. I brought her home, started pulling out things for her to take back. Went back to the party. Just got home once and for all. Took cold shower, pilled stuff to pack for Kiribi. Ready for bed.
Today worked well. I packed this morning. We got to Yaoundé by Inter-Voyage without any hassle. Checked into Jouvence Hotel, ate omelets in the shack at omnisport, stored papers and money in my locker at Peace Corps, bought some good gifts at artissanat, visited my friends at central market, shoes, Score, arrived at Mokolo at prayer time. found fabric to make a dress, back to pc, laundry, hotel, tropical dinner – fried chicken and fries – stuffed. mom;s pajamas weren't dry. Waited, back to hotel, talked to roger for an hour in the bar, looked at photos with mom in hotel room
Thanksgiving was broken. That small moment yesterday outside my orange gate. Magloire was tying mom's suitcase onto his dirt bike, mom was wondering how 2 motorcycles could take us and our luggage. Marious picked up my backpack and rested it between the handle bars. My beaded bracelet broke right where it was tied. I caught the end as it unwound from my wrist, not loosing a bead. Mom tied the end for me before climbing onto the motos to Inter-Voyage.
Early this morning I got a handful of things done at the PC office before we set off for Kiribi.
Rainy day at the beach. After backgammon and pool (billiards) and sitting around, we walked in the surf and I insisted on swimming. The currents were strong. We sat in the sand. Rinsing off in the warm ocean water, I road a good strong wave. Any good experience should be repeated but the second attempt arched my back, tossed me and winded me. Cleaning off in the shower I noticed my stubbed toenail from last week hanging by a thread like a child's tooth. I was surprised to be able to peal it out of the cuticle. That's for Anne.
Mom and I went with a guide and his brother in a boat up the Lobé river. Wide, mirror flat water with thick forest right up to the edge. The brother climbed onto Tarzan vines hanging over the water to prove how strong they are. They pointed out monkeys in the trees but my untrained eyes saw only one. We pulled into a bank and walked through the forest to a Pigmy camp. Family of 15 people. Basic bamboo benches under badly constructed banana leaf roofs. The rain bothers them. So basic and primitive mom didn't believe it was real.
Talking distracts morning thoughts. The first early morning sun is hitting the coastline, coming up over the trees. The ocean is calm – small ripples breaking against the shore.
Last night was mom's last night in Cameroon. After dinner we moved down to the bar area. Discussion about Cameroon development problems over coffee and whiskey. Roger wanted to explain a few things to me in French that I translate. He'd get half an idea said and mom and I would start responding, discussing. Give him back the parole, start the cycle again. Eventually he got up and left to play pool.
airport last night - very unpleasant scene with taximan.
Roger accompanied me to Inter. I was pleased to get home. I made some soup and eggs, soaked my smelly shoes, was ready for a nap. But Magloire called to say that the departure for Essomba was ready. I road in the MiFed pick-up carrying the safe to the opening General Assembly of the new CVECA. The opening books balanced, bi-laws agreed upon, management committees elected. Finally food was uncovered, wine uncorked (yes there was even bottled wine) whiskey poured on the hearth for a prosperous beginning. Colonel Eboko was there.
The staff of SAIMED at Emanuel's house for the ‘official presentation'. I stepped outside for my ‘dessert' Bienvenu followed to talk work. He was followed by Emanuel's "sister". Flirtatiously Bienvenu asked if she'd ever seen him before. She said "yes and Miss Carolyn too in Kamba". My first trip to a village back in September 2003. She fixed her eyes on mine, her cream-colored face with two centimeter long parallel scars on each cheek. "You held my baby." I asked if I've changed since then. She said steadfast "No" Bienvenu responded "Oh yes she has". I'm pleased with both responses.
I didn't sleep much last night, still wide awake at 4am, spent awhile replaying the incident with the Taximan and Police at the airport. I shouldn't have given in so fast but had wanted to get out of there.
Bienvenu has me booked for the week. I spent most of the day revising and reformatting his resume. Worked more quickly through Materne's and the other members of the SAIMED team. He's preparing for a meeting with a potential new partner to do grassroots work in the East. I'll accompany him to several different meetings in Yaoundé on Wednesday.
I helped Bienvenu and Materne facilitate training for the presidents of a handful of women's groups. Only 7 of 20 showed up. Afterwards we ate quickly at 10iem arret as guests of one of the participants. We rushed home to get our bags and leave for Yaoundé. Aloys with us. Loaded at dusk, drove in the dark, eclipse of the moon. We sat at the bar across from Inter waiting for our dates. Bienvenu said that his heart thumps with anticipation and proposed that the first person to have their friend appear pay the next round. Roger showed up first.
Woke up at Petit Paris with Roger. Bienvenu came by my room with Alene. We went to have breakfast and then Bien and I took a depot taxi to Plan International. The meeting with the Chief du Centre was brief but positive. They'll invite us to a training at the end of the month and then probably fund our project. We went from there to marché central to wait an hour before our next meeting. MSSF Interesting project, not that well organized….
Discussion of study; shopping; finally met Roger's friend Nana. Bob Marley anniversary, heard whole Legend album in bar.
Christian is in Prison. She has been since Monday. This will be her forth night. Roger says someone needs to be paid to let her out. She's too honest and righteous for such a system, probably why she landed there in the first place while the others didn't. I'm just back from Ydé. Learned I can pay 500 FCFA ($1) for communication rights to visit her.
Susan just called! Such a thrill to talk to her. She told me of her health, her house and that her kids are almost all taller than her.
Spent most of the day waiting.
Mathieu accompanied me to visit Christiane. We turned off the paved road, crossed the ditch I've passed hundreds of times and walked across the huge blank space of an open dust field toward the intimidating large cement block building labeled PRISON. The head guard outside recognized me, greeted me, followed us in. We entered to a foyer 6x12, uneven dirt floor. One guard sitting at a little table, others on benches along the walls. Mathieu stuttered out her name. "Who?"
"In the women's section, the new girl."
Moments later, she appeared, hair fluffy, cargo pants. She sat down between us.
Bottom still running and a head cold hit me – sore throat, mucus (you understand). So I slept & read & slept. I feel better this morning. I'm contemplating eating only raw foods or fasting but slowing down eating will slow me down. I have much I want to concentrate on. I accepted being sick yesterday afternoon but today I need energy.
Bienvenu visited at 8am. He spent 1h trying to explain why he can't help Christian right now. He's frustrated that I've asked the same question 5 times. But "it's above me now" isn't an acceptable response to me. Hell.
Up at 7:20 am. Neighbor's radios were going. As soon as I realized it is Sunday morning I rushed around putting everything to charge. At 8 am it went quiet, lights out. For the last several months the electricity has been cut all day Sundays. It'll come back around dusk I don't like it because on Sundays I want to sit home and consume electricity; listen to music, edit photos and type.
I visited Christiane for a second time today. She was more worn out. Bienvenu visited her yesterday, told her I've been harassing him to help her some how.
It was a full day. Morning at the office, wrote PC report at home. Visited Christian in Prison with Magloire. Meeting at the CECA was high tension but air cleared. Need to find Christian a lawyer. Round of drinks. Then found Susan of MSF & Dr. Ngos at Therometre. Long talk of energy and witchcraft. Susan buys none of it. We concluded that with modern times Africa has lost its' soul. I found the Dr.'s explanations and stories very interesting because he has come to understand it in a scientific way linking water ripples, vibrations, radio waves with spiritual powers.
Went to Yaoundé and back. Handed in my flight itinerary for home leave. On my way out to meet Ro next door I found PH and invited him for a drink. He flies home Friday after 3 years here. Ro took me to Inter and I kept giving up my place in the bus to stay a little longer. I got home at 5pm and was too late to go to the meeting in Ndibi, so I rested and hung out at home. This cold has hit me and I don't want it to continue like it did in October.
We went in group with the management committee of the CECA to visit Christian. Everyone stared at her, too many people to really talk. She cried in the corner. Men bang on the feeble wooden door and harass her. The group was distraught, shoved small bills in her hand on the way out.
A child died this morning. A 5 year old sent to empty the night bowl into the pit latrine. He fell in and wasn't missed until an hour later when it was time to leave for school.
My ticket to the states is booked.
It's Dad's birthday.
I'm just back from Solange zigzagging my hair. Sonny came back from a daytrip au village and announced that he just saw papa on his moto with another woman. Oh again, they'd just sorted out their problems.
Today Christian came out smiling. She was encouraged by the big visit and spent too much time crying yesterday. She stayed inside today ignoring the men banging on the doors, tuning out the cat calls. I made her laugh with astonishment of Ernest's baby girl. Ah only one time! She shook her head. I need to think of more outrageous gossip to tell.
I picked up and arranged my room. I had my morning coffee for the first time in a week. Chantel ironed my skirt and cleaned my shoes. I got dressed to attend the parade. Solange sent a message that the heat exhausted her too much to go into town. I'm always alone on holidays. I watched again Chez Peter. There was only a small procession of gendarmes before the students started. troupes of little girls, little boys, followed by larger kids. The little girls were best, enthusiastic singing, arms swinging, trying hard to keep step. Little boys wandered around lost.
I talked and visited with almost everyone today. At least it feels like everyone. Chantel and I talked this morning about prison and unwanted pregnancy. A husband sent his wife to prison for aborting her pregnancy because he was cheating too much. I visited Christian. After my hour visit yesterday she wasn't allowed to see anyone else. Perjero invited me for a soda. Materne showed me his new vitamin treatments. Juliet's husband is just back. Essama brought me home, talked of insolent younger siblings living off of him. Went to resto of seminar participant to discuss marketing strategies. Jeanah texting.
Mom says the ticket home is the first of our money problems. I know it's true. I also know that here there're real money problems without credit solutions. Empty car won't move for weeks, no gas without cash.
There's a friend of Magloire's who annoys me to no end. Unfortunately I spent most of the day with him. He appears and explains to me how things here in Africa are different than in America. In contrast we found an old gendarme who remarked that he finds me different and adapted. He's interested in real discussion and cultural exchange with me.
The Monday staff meeting was relatively brief. Then we were sent in groups to attend the two aids trainings sponsored by Plan International but unfortunately run by the Sister. I choose to go to the meeting in MVE a few kilometers out of town. It was the wrong choice as it was the sister who arrived to facilitate the day. The subject – AIDS testing could have been interesting but she often missed the point and shuffled along. I was starving by the end of the day. The women who hosted us brought out some food. I walked back with Carine.
My head spins with the few threads of the bank robbery story that I've heard. The mainstream information is useless and the whispers are hard to confirm. My head spins while Christian spends another night in jail. I'm stuck with that thought….
I walked this morning out to MVE, arrived 1hour late, 5 minutes before the training started. They showed a very interesting film produced by USAID. The rep from Plan arrived to close the day. (He's said that if we motivate the director they'll fund our project.)
Back at the office, went out for drinks with the union reps.
Dominique is turning the earth in the little square I've selected for a garden. I'd thought we could just add more fertile earth on top. But he arrived and started doing heavy work breaking up the hard earth that is there. Next he'll dig a hole under the trash pile for fertile black dirt and then top it off with Pig manure. He has a friend here watching him. I'm not sure what his purpose is but then Dominique often has an entourage. So by the end of the morning I'll have a garden prepared. Tomorrow early morning I'll plant.
"Water when it's cold" my neighbor advised me. "You can't water when it's hot or the plants will die."
"Oh. They die when it's hot?" I think well, thank god it has been cool the last few days. What am I going to do when it heats up again?
"Yes when you water when it's hot the plants die. I don't know why. But you need to water in the early morning and in the evening." She said a little mystified.
But finally I understood her advice. "It evaporates, the sun takes the water before it gets to the plants."
I did a day trip to Yaoundé and got nothing I'd originally planned done. But I found an opportunity I don't fully understand. They're looking for a PCV from my stage to run the SED program until a new program director (APCD) arrives in December although there's no candidate in the pipeline. The position is in Yaoundé and it isn't clear what privileges or rules would be volunteer vs staff level. Would they double my $3k salary for filling a staff position that ranges from $30k-$80k? Need more details, but it'd be interesting to have a house in the capital.
It was a cool rainy day. No sunshine at all. The rain was probably good for my newly planted garden but I was worried that the seeds would be washed away. I read 2 Jane magazines before finally drafting my application for the SED management position, attempting to define the position in the process. Roger returned from his trip au village with his father and I spent all my credit updating him on my world. He was thrilled to hear of the possible position in Yaoundé. At 50 cents a minute, it's hard to stay in good touch. Miss him.
I've just worked out my SONEL bill. Consumption is higher than I expected. I have been home a great deal more the last two months and I've had more visitors. But I wouldn't expect that to make much of a difference. At the same time the two others on my meter weren't home much this period. Their rate is fixed, I pay the difference. Nonetheless our consumption is always rather low. In two months three of us consumed less than 100kw. I wonder what I used to consume back in Los Angeles.
I think the sun will come back today.
At times today I've had waves of humble, melancholy sadness. Then the tide would retreat. It was odd. What's on my mind? Christiane in prison (had a short visit today), how Robert will react to my application. Not knowing if I'll be living in Yaoundé. What would that be like? Sad already at the idea of leaving Akonolinga for 6 months. Haven't seen Roger in two weeks.
2 good things.
A) There are a variety of little green shoots poping out of the soil in my garden.
B) I worked with the restaurant people helping them figure out next steps.
It's morning nearing 8am. I've already watered my garden and I'm very pleased to see more young shoots sprouting through the soil. My bag is more or less packed for Yaoundé. I expect to spend a few nights there because I have a handful of things to do. I need to see a few lawyers about Christian's case, hand in and discuss my application to be the volunteer SED program manager, work with a Cameroonian on a marketing session for PST, post these words, visit with Roger, pick up the refrigerator and pay the difference for my home-leave plane ticket.
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