This could be an understatement of a lifetime in Cameroon! I have lived in Tucson during monsoon season, and that is just child’s play in comparison. My house has a tin roof and it amplifies the sound of the rain. I know that I have not experienced dry season…but I already think that rainy season is my favorite. The roads turn into mud rivers and all I want to do is jump in the puddles and get as muddy as possible! I decided against that when I saw the neighborhood kids peeing on the side of the road. There will be no playing in ANY mud while I am in Cameroon!
I went shopping for Pangia last week. I got a dress and a skirt made. The next couple things on my list are more skirts, dresses and a bath robe! Be prepared for when I come home…my house is going to look like Africa threw up on the fabric and I cannot wait! If you are ever shopping for fabric here in Cameroon, my tip to you is to taste the fabric. If it tastes salty, then run away! It means that the colors will run and every time you wash your outfit you will need to add salt.
I just completed my first week of immersion for school. I am beyond exhausted! It is draining having to communicate in another language. But I will commend not only myself but the other trainees on their efforts! We are all improving daily. I take my language exam this week and I hope to improve to Intermediate Low. In order to get sworn in I have to reach Intermediate High. I started out at Novice Low…aka the lowest possible ranking!
I am not sure exactly if I have the words to describe how I feel about being in Cameroon. Maybe I did not realize how difficult it would be to move here. Previous volunteers really only mentioned the great parts, but they failed to mention how hard it actually is. The quote for the Peace Corps is: “It’s the hardest job that you will ever love.” And I am starting to see how that is the case.
Let me paint this picture for you. The power is out in your house and you want to go and use the bathroom in the morning. You wake up and search for your headlamp in the dark, put on clothes and flip flops (AC is a thing of the past…you you wear a sports bra and underwear to bed), then you realize that you don’t have water in your bucket to flush the toilet. So you grab your bucket, go outside to the well and spend 10 minutes trying to get water out of it. (it seems like it might be an easy task…but it is not) Now that your bucket is filled you carry it to the bathroom. Also, you must remember that there are 2 types of toilets here in Cameroon, well 2 that I have seen thus far, a latrine aka a hole in the ground, or an actual toilet. But you cannot sit on this porcelain God because there is most likely something growing in it, or a lizard might be in it. So you squat and once you have finished your business you have to take the bucket of water and pour it down the toilet.
Now that you have finally gone to the bathroom you realize that you need to start getting ready for school. So you take you bucket and fill it up at the well. Go to the latrine (also your toilet) and give yourself a bucket bath. You have a cup and you pour the water on yourself. Once you have finished showering you have you use a squeegee on a stick to get all the water to go down the latrine. This, my friends, is my new life! And I have one of the nicer houses! But please don’t forget that the power has been out the whole time!
Cameroon is treating me well. You get used to the bucket baths and you get used to being woken up by the rain on your tin roof. People here treat you like family. I call my host parents, Mon Pere et Ma Mere and the boys are Mes Freres. When walking anywhere near my house the kids will run up and give you a big hug! Everyone will always say hello, offer to a meal and a cold beer. I even get my name being said with a head shake from side to side; “Oh Danielle!” So aside from a few differences, I am feeling right at home. Maybe I have always been a Cameroonian at heart and just never knew it! Or maybe the reality is that no matter where you are in the world people are ultimately the same, just maybe a different way to go about their daily lives.