Monday, January 27, 2014

An Ending and a New Beginning

I have been subconsciously avoiding writing this blog post. I am reminded daily by all different things, often times at random, about my time in Cameroon. Yesterday I found a bag of my favorite coffee grounds that I purchased in Cameroon. I had been saving them and they wound up getting lost in the shuffle of moving around so many times. I savored that glorious cup of coffee that reminded me of so much. I was known by my neighbors as the coffee drinker. Each morning when I woke, I would greet everyone with a warm cup of coffee in my hand. If I did not have that cup of coffee in my hands, they would send me back into my house and wait to greet me until I had it. Its funny how something so simple can remind you of so much.

Coffee these days is easier. Boiling the water is easier.  I get my water from the tap; no waiting for the water to filter. I have an electric tea kettle; no wondering if the gas for my stove is out. Cleaning my French press is easier; I just pop that sucker into the dish washer.

Something that I have noticed since being back is although things in the States may be easier at times, I miss the mundane tasks. Yes, there are so many more vegetables that I can have all the time, but I truly miss the excitement that overcame everyone in village when the seasonal items came into season. Grocery shopping in the states is easy, but is it enjoyable? It is not a community event, no one says hello to me as I pass them. At the time I HATED not having water for long stretches of time, but now I miss how getting water was such an event. It allowed me to hang out with my landlord’s kids. It was a work out.

Now to the present moment. A lot has changed since I left Cameroon on July 20, 2013. I traveled for 6 weeks with my boyfriend, another Peace Corps volunteer that I met in training and we have been together ever since, to Dubai, Thailand, Cambodia and Laos. Throughout the trip we would look at each other in awe and say, “These roads are so much nicer than in Cameroon!” or “How are there so many 7-11s and ATMs? This country is SO developed!” The trip was a great way to transition back to the states. It was interesting to see so many similarities amongst the differences.

After traveling around Southeast Asia, I moved back home. I was there for about 6 weeks. It was an odd period. It felt like I was on vacation; that I would be returning to Cameroon at any moment. I got to see most of my friends, attend a few weddings, eat all of the fruits and vegetables that I could possibly handle, and sleep on an American mattress! 

In the beginning of October I moved out to DC to be with Christian. It has been a whirlwind since then. The New Year has come and gone. At one point I was working 4 jobs just to make ends meet. I thought that moving to DC would be easier than it actually was. Finding a job has been extremely difficult; I underestimated how hard it actually would be. But now, I feel like things are starting to come together. I have a temporary job, I am also working at a restaurant, I have a direction and short-term goals. When I first got back to the states, even thinking a week ahead made me go into a panic – so this is an improvement.

Do I miss Cameroon? Absolutely, I will always miss Cameroon. It was my home for over 2 years. My friends who became my family are still there. I talk to them often and I cannot wait for the day that I can go back. I am reminded daily of my time in Cameroon. I am beyond grateful for my experience, the people I met, and the work that we did together.

It has been fun reading my old blog posts and remembering stories that I wrote about. I am not sure if I will write here again – I am not sure what I would write about. My life in Cameroon was much more interesting than my life now. 

As I continue on I am reminded that my last chapter will never actually be closed; this experience has changed everything about me – so it will be forever with me.


Leeann S said...

Hi Danielle, I just found your blog about life as a PCV in Meiganga. I was a PCV there in 1991-1993. LOVED IT! Had to leave due to tribal fighting and didn't know they had opened the post up again. I'm still homesick for Cameroon and would so enjoy the chance to talk to you. Your pictures are so much like mine. I just want to hear what it's like and if any of my projects still exist or are remembered...a library, a soccer league, a school, boite d'eau, boudriche repair...even a moulin named Leeann...and lots of time just talking with the ladies groups... I had a blue moto. If you wouldn't mind giving me a call - I'd love to compare notes. I know how hard re-adjusting is. 602-274-3571 (AZ) - Hope you are well. Say yeso. (I can't remember any Gbaya) Leeann

Young Becks said...

Hi Danielle
İ just found your blog while going through photos of my country . İ have been out of Cameroon just for 1 year and already i miss a lot about it . the food uhh i think about it everyday . Your pictures are really beautiful. so i just wanted to say ..Thanks :) .For me this is a gift :)

Danielle said...

Hi Becklie, I am glad that I could share my experience with you! What were you doing in Cameroon?

Leeann- It was great talking to you last week!