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It's a big holiday, the first of May, Fete du travail. SAIMED is organizing a party "we will eat drink and dance." But the mid-afternoon trails on. I visited Pat at MSF, then wandered around the center of town before being called toward the pt. Marche to have a drink with the two extension workers from Plan. I invited them chez leNotre hoping he'd have meatballs. No luck. I called Roger for a good chat and played with Sylvie from next door. Waiting for the SAIMED party...
Hard to believe mom was here a year ago. The year zapped passed!
Liquidation is Aloys' favorite tradition. He saved a bottle of whisky from the party. So we had to gather to drink the leftovers. I invited them over to my place. Chantal made some hardboiled eggs and I made popcorn. The conversation was hilarious:
Protection from being poisoned (bottles bust, break, or explode before then can be consumed).
The effects of Aloys' Viagra bark. (Known as "Aloys-, not yet tested by any women).
Ziegel's update on his efforts of polygamy. His explanation of how he knows that he's satisfied a woman.
Aloys chimes in that noisy sex is embarrassing au village...
I received a letter from PC at the office this morning. It was delivered by the man in charge of mail at Inter Voyage. The letter inside was from Ruth, who is responsible for safety and security. The letter explained that they were testing communication methods. I was to respond immediately WITHOUT using my cell-phone or e-mail. So I sent it back by Inter. The trick was getting it from Inter to the PC office without using my phone. Since I was traveling to Mfou, I took the letter to YaoundÃƒÆ'Ã‚Â© and paid someone 500 CFA taxi to deliver it.
Yesterday I worked with the people at CRATAD for a few hours on making their programs more detailed. As I arrived back in YaoundÃƒÆ'Ã‚Â©, Roger called to say there was a Barcelona football match. So I met him at Printemps to see the game. Eto'o scored, they won the Spanish championship.
Today I was going to shop in bulk in YaoundÃƒÆ'Ã‚Â© but I realized that I'll only be home for a few days. I read e-mail and had lunch with Tiffany. She was making wedding invitations for July 7th. I will see her again in 9 days at Anna's wedding.
I moved through town today. Stopped by the office quickly before going to market where I ran into many many people; village mamas from Bondi and Wouma, moto-taximen, Mde Isendi, the chef of Ndamba and all the market mamas. I bought Chantal a gift for her baby. Then I spent time in the office helping Mathieu and Juliet package soap, lamps, balls and school supplies for orphans. This evening I was at Pat's house again. His big boss (an Aussie) is in town. There's only a half moon tonight but the sky was clear so the light was bright enough.
I spent the morning burning disks of photos.
Bienvenu sent a text message that there's a special obligatory staff meeting tomorrow at 10am. Annoying that he's called a meeting for Sunday morning. It makes me wonder what charades he's planning. I'd like to see him but he didn't respond to my text and he isn't answering the phone. The only acceptable subject in my mind is paying people's back salaries, or possibly some brief scheduling issue.
Caught up with Aloys when he returned from his mission in YaoundÃƒÆ'Ã‚Â©. We're all waiting for the big R(Reorganization). May be announced next week.
The meeting was mostly about rescheduling the next week. MiFed will have a meeting at the end of the week which will throw off all the CVECA General Assemblies. I headed over to MSF to say goodbye to Dr. Pat. His mission is over and he'll fly out while I'm in Bafoussam. I took his picture. He thanked me for the friendship and the company. I hope we will cross paths again in the future. I'll miss him around here.
We are heading soon in a rented car to the general assembly and first anniversary party of the CVECA d'Essouba.
I am really hurting from the party last night. The meeting was good and to the point. 15 million CFA have passed through the caisse in the past year and they have no overdue loans. We drank a bit and things were winding down. A good little event. Then the bottle of whisky appeared. Then we were invited to the bar. Then we were invited chez the French woman who served us more food and delicious, chilled sangria.
I got to yaounde, the bank, some laundry. Then traveled with James and Conan to Bafoussam in the Air Conditioned PC car.
I'm at Pat's in Bafoussam. The first day of the SED steering committee meeting was productive but long with a few generations of Americans debating over volunteer activities, philosophies and semantics in order to draft the new SED Project Plan. Some of the newer and younger volunteers appear rather removed from the environment and derogatory toward Cameroonians. Had dinner with Pat, good grounded diverse conversation.
Text from Christiane: At this very hour last year I was going to prison, may god reward you for what u did for me when I was there. At this time I'm writing in class!16:55
It was a very long day working with the SED steering committee and we've created a new and improved 5 year project plan. But then we started to discuss training competencies and sessions and I realized it's a group of inexperienced but arrogant youth who have no clue how to plan an hour class yet alone a whole curriculum.
In the evening Pat and I met with Anna and worked out a plan for her wedding day. Even so it'll be chaos. Then Fritz and his friend showed up. We had fun planning. The weekend with be full of laughs.
Pat and I went with James (the new APCD) on a site preparation visit to Tchang. It's a hilly, green, calm university town. We met with the manager of an MC2. Then we visited with the regional fieldworker for Gabsy at his office at the prison. Ends up his day job is prison warden. He was very open with financial statements and problems working in the field. Pat and I were impressed but I'm not sure how a new pcv would read the situation differently. Pat & I squished into a tiny car back to Bafoussam with 5 other people.
I spent the day at Anna's helping her and Jessie make several three layered wedding cakes, one layer at a time in a marmite oven. It took all day. Anna showed me most of the paperwork she's prepared for the visa process. She's getting married tomorrow! There are too many volunteers in town, some were not invited which is causing Anna some stress...
Interesting that the West Province hasn't even received the Peace Corps letter for the communication test. My response was received almost 10 days ago. I must have been one of the fastest responses.
A good evening rain.
The best part of Anna and Fritz's wedding was the Mayor. He started with some nonsensical laws (women have the right to effects). He put down the book and got serious. "Your marital problems need to stay inside the marriage. The court between you is in the bedroom... Women gave birth to men, so Fritz is now Anna's baby... But Fritz, as the man, now needs to teach Anna how to live..." He called for words of wisdom from several of us. Finally they stand and face each other and he asks is this a polygamist or monogamist marriage?
We slept at the Mission. Hungry and tired from the party last night we pushed through the papers for PC permission. Then we rushed off to Banjoun to visit my home-stay family. Jean drove us to visit Crystal and her newborn. He dropped us off at Pat's to get my bag. Putting Roger on the bus I got a message from the pcv I planned on visiting that it wasn't a good week, so I jumped on the bus back to Yde with Roger. 4.5 uncomfortable hours squished. we found his brother at the house upon our return. Too tired...
I came directly home today from Roger's without passing at Peace Corps. I ran into Magloire at Inter and traveled back with him. (He was coming to transport his palm trees au village).
I passed by SAIMED to greet everyone. Mathieu & Cecile were busy with the packages for orphans, Juliet was typing, Ziegel was preparing for a General Assembly meeting, Aloys shook my hand and left, Bienvenu entered with the Director of Plan.
I came home and napped.
I went to Le Notre for dinner. A woman asked me for assistance with the classes at the Centre de Femme.
I went to market this morning and greeted many people. I used to dread visiting the market because it's hard to run in unnoticed and shop. Everyone always comments on how long it has been since they've seen me. These days that doesn't bother me, it's actually nice to have so many people want to say hello. I had a soda with Pejero. It was good to catch up him. I came home and made a hearty beef stew.
It has been raining off and on today. A strong downpour came with the sunset announcing a cool night.
I went to bed with conspiracy stories in my head that fermented over night. Still brewing them over I started cleaning the floor which lead to rearranging the furniture which lead to cleaning out my closets and sorting stuff to give away, to take home, to consume and to toss.
In the evening I heard everyone in the neighborhood roar a few times and I remembered the European Championship match. I made it over to Le Notre's for the second half. It was tense, with Arsenal leading 1-0. Finally Eto'o made a beautiful goal through the goalie's legs. Bassa Won2-1.
SAIMED rented a car to deliver packages of notebooks, clothes, soap and balls to orphans in 5 different villages along the axe of Medjeme. The visual images (grasslands, butterflies, forest shadows, children's smiles, logging roads), the village politics, the children's stories, the people who greet me by name, the marmits of food (monkey, fish, chicken, plantains, corn), the trunk packed with plantains, the terrible roads ... the day cannot be describes in 100words. But it's the adventures and images of these days that I will miss. Rain, dusk, mud - we fishtailed into the bush. I'm home now dirty, tired, inspired.
I'm down. Here by myself my thoughts swell my head. I've learned while in Africa that I have a tendency for depression. It hits fast and hard. I like my solitude. I'm happiest around people, at least for some hours of the day. The best is to have hours alone before a rendezvous with someone. Then the hours alone don't feel so lonely. I'll read myself to sleep. Tomorrow's another day. In fact it's a holiday, Cameroon's national holiday. There will be a parade, as there is every holiday but tomorrow the gendarmes and police have there chance to strut.
I cleaned up this morning. My CD player was working and I enjoyed listening to my music. I went in to see the parade and caught the tail end. I often wander around alone on holidays but many people saw me and gave me shout outs. I'll need to get in touch with Therese tomorrow. She always calls when I'm out of town. I ran into Njoki and Alan at Club Center. Aloys passed returning from Fang. Bienvenu & Materne materialized. I hung out awhile but came home by 4pm to cook another hearty stew.
My thoughts have exhausted me.
I'd written my words, then gone to meet Therese who never arrived. I ran into Marius with several bothers-in-law. The family was in town because their nephew had his first communion. Before heading back to YaoundÃƒÆ'Ã‚Â©, they had to pass by his house. I haven't been to Marius' house since the last one burnt down. He invited me along. Upon arrival I was accosted by a dozen children between the ages of 5&9. They touched my hair, waited for tickles, pinched me and bombarded me with questions. I left with an odd new hairstyle. I was totally delighted by them.
I asked Bienvenu this morning what work or services he still needs from me before I leave. He said he wants my help restructuring SAIMED; revising their bi-laws and writing new financial and managerial procedures.
I ran into Jon and looked at his new laptop his brother sent from France
. I met Therese for a drink. Njoki and Allan joined us. Everyone left. I chatted a long time and finally took another beer with a man from the market hanging out with Coco.
I'm not ready to go to Yde tomorrow. I don't even want to go to TDW anymore.
I put off my trip until first thing tomorrow morning. I spent the day at the office adding to the annual report, teaching basic PowerPoint and selecting photos. I came home to get ready for my trip and instead cleaned the main bedroom and the kitchen. I've lost my steam. I still need to sort papers, change my sheets, clean the bathroom and clear out the refrigerator. It's when it's time to travel that I become most motivated and active. I look forward to time with Roger but I'm not looking forward to the 8 day PC Training Design Workshop.
I arrived late but before coffee break, missed the introductions and expectations of the workshop. I had lunch at La Picine with James and Pat. I told him the process was a turn off and I flip flop between wanting to be very involved to not at all involved. We need to work in smaller groups to get everything done. Roger showed up hungry. We went to the bar after Texaco. Papi came to meet us. I've gotten a room at the Kaelly so I can be on time to Peace Corps and don't have to deal with the case.
The Training Design Workshop advanced well today. It isn't painful as I expected. In two different groups we listed competencies (in lists of knowledge and skills) trainees should have after training and the other group listed the classes that should be given. We're comparing the lists and will finalize them in the morning.
We had dinner at a cheap Senegalese resto.
Met Roger before he travels to the west. He was drunken but expressive and very cute. He wanted me to spend more time with his closest friend but not stay out late. I may have made amends with Anastasia.
We finalized competencies that need to be attained by the end of training and the list of 30+ technical classes. We each submitted the list of classes that interest us to facilitate. I put my name next to six possibilities but don't want to teach them all. We've scheduled the 11 weeks, detailed content of the counter-part workshop, fieldtrips, guest speakers, discussed logistics of site visits and simultaneously running a community business school.
My little cold had worn me out. My energy level is very low. I napped waiting for Roger but now he's sleeping and I'm awake and restless.
James spent the evening reviewing everyone's requests for teaching. Then met with David and Oliver to finalize it. I think everyone was happy with the results. I'll teach two marketing classes with Roslyn just after the 4th of July party. Then at the end of August I'll do a class with Ata on "Tips for the first three months at post"and a class on corruption and transparency with the head trainer Olivier. Since it's Saturday we got out early. I've considered going home for 2 days. I haven't seen Christian or JC. These PC workshops just suck me in.
More and more people are arriving (for COS, TOT). I have to check out of the Kaelly, can't afford 10 days over there - but maybe I choose the wrong days to escape the caz. My cold is a little better. The day is slipping by. I just suggested to Anna that we go out to Mfou to visit Magloire and so she can see the possible site for my wedding. I've been debating between Mfou and Akonolinga. I also keep changing my mind on when I should COS. I have a lot of decisions I need to make this week.
It was a long day of TDW. I wrote a SED test to be taken pre &post training in order to evaluate if technical training actually teaches them anything. The next few days will also be full. The goal is to prepare the training manual before the end of the week.
There are over 20 people at the caz: 10 watching TV, all computers full, several chatting in the kitchen, several others in the small sitting room, at the table outside, and wandering the grounds talking on the phone. When JC gets off work I hope to escape for awhile.
It was another long day, we got more accomplished, we discovered more to do. It's an endless cycle. The day passed more quickly although I produced less. I also started doing some of the PC admin tasks that I've been dancing around. I got the Close of Service forms from Sally.
I made an appointment with Kim, Acting Country Director, for her to interview us and for us to hand in papers requesting permission.
I watched most of King Kong.
I had beer with some boys.
I submitted an old Akonolinga article to be published in the next Laughing Cow.
Roger came and met me at the Kaelly. We rewrote his form on a clean copy before meeting with Kim. She explained the process and asked some questions about our plans. The form will be sent to Washington and the Embassy simultaneously. Afterwards we had lunch at La Picine and discussed other steps and dates. We have penciled in a date and also estimated a date of departure. I'll feel better when it's all set but there's still so many bloody steps.
I worked on and finished my sections for the training manual.
Drank too much with Roger and Pat.
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