Tuesday, August 26, 2008

What do Africa and America have in common?

Moving in still sucks. I’m at post now, in a giant house with absolutely zero furniture. The house itself is pretty nice. Tile floors, decent kitchen, three big bedrooms, and a living room the size of a small aircraft hangar. The fact that its so big is almost a negative because I can’t afford to properly furnish it so it looks kinda gloomy.

Moving into the house wasn’t nearly as bad as it could have been. A friend who’s been here for about a year now hooked me up with a Cameroonian who owed her a favor. I told the guy I wanted a bed, a stove, and an iron and handed him a ton of cash (The mattress by itself was nearly half of my moving-in allowance, but I wasn’t spending another night on a 2” foam square like I have for the past three months). Giving this kid almost all my cash was certainly not the least sketchy thing I’ve ever done, but he pulled through. He got everything I wanted and delivered it right to my house. Pretty stress-free, actually.

I’ve been here for three nights now and I finally get to cook for myself. Tonight I tried to prepare ndolé, a traditional Cameroonian dish made of bitter greens with like a peanut sauce. It might not sound great but when it comes out right it tastes almost exactly like a thicker version of spinach and artichoke dip. That’s when it comes out right. The recipe calls for peanut butter, which I couldn’t find it in the short time I had to shop today. So I figured I’d just try and make my own peanut butter. I’m an intelligent guy, right? I can figure it out, right? Wrong. I’m not even going to write what my attempted method of preparation was because you’ll all think I’m marginally retarded. Long story short it didn’t work. I made the dish anyway with my peanut-butter-abortion and while it looks and tastes nothing like ndolé, it was still pretty good. I’m eating it right now with some fried plantains. I shall call it, “jimbolé.”

I just read Umenyiora is out for the year. That sucks. What doesn’t suck is that I found out the nearby major city, Bafoussam, has a few bars with ESPN. I might get to see Carolina curb-stomp Duke come February. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

My phone/internet connection is pretty bad at my house, which kinda sucks. But I’ve been keeping myself entertained by reading the dozen or so books I have with me, and watching one of the 60 or so movies I know have on my iPod (media exchange with my friends in the last few days of training was so necessary).

All in all though I’m doing very well. Spirits are high and I’m excited to start teaching in… Oh jesus I start teaching in 2 weeks. Merde.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Ain't no party like a Yaounde party

Because a Yaounde party doesn't stop. We've all been in the capital since Sunday and its been a blast. Yaounde has a lot of little treats that you don't find in small villages like Bangangte. The past few days I've been eating pizza, hamburgers, chinese food, and Snickers bars an in no way is that depressing.

In Yaounde we stay in the case (kahz), which is attached to the Peace Corps headquarters. It's like a giant dormitory that sleeps about 25. It's hilarious, I feel like I'm back in freshman year again. Everyone in bunk beds and playing ping pong and stuff. There's a big DVD collection and a pretty decent library (from which I have ganked a nice little sampling for the next few months). But its been really nice to get to hang out with everyone all night for the last few days before we all leave for our own corners of Cameroon.

But yeah the moment of truth is nigh upon us with the swearing-in ceremony this friday. Everyone's really excited and anxious to finally get to our posts and begin our three months of solitude. I just can't wait to be able to cook for myself and finally have some privacy. I love my host family but you can only wake up to Brian Adams blasting at full volumes before you start to want to commit multiple homicides. Voila.

Yeah the keyboard on this computer is awful so I don't want to write anymore. My next post will be coming from inside my new house sometime this weekend. A bientot.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Big Brother is out there.

So word around town is that certain volunteers have taken it upon themselves to read a bunch of trainees' and volunteers' blogs and report to the administration about things that they believe are insensitive or offensive. That must be a fun job. So if anyone out there feels marginalized by any of my comments, please shoot me a comment and I'll remove any such posts.

Something like that makes me want to password protect this thing, but where's the fun there? Viva la revolucion.

PS - I just plain don't like the Irish. Filthy people. Sorry Grandma.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

How'd you spend your Sunday morning?

I’m assuming you woke up around 9:30 or 10, had a cup of coffee, read the paper, etc. You know, the usual lazy Sunday type package. What’d I do? I put on a dress and had an audience with the King. I roll like that.

We got to the Chefferie Superieure de Bangangté a little after 10 and got a little tour of the palace. They showed us a bunch of photos from the reigns of former kings and all kind of stuff. I’ve uploaded some photos which you can peep up in this piece. The King has a really nice Zebra rug. And I don’t mean the King of Bangangté saw a nice faux-Zebra skin rug in the Pottery Barn catalog. I mean someone went out, found a zebra, murdered it to death, and turned it into a rug. And then put a coffee table on top of it. Majestic.

So check this. The palace is located in the Sacred Forest. It's called the sacred forest because it is home to the King’s totem animal, a leopard. It is said that if this totem leopard is killed, the King too will die. More on the Sacred Forest. One of the former Kings only ruled for a few weeks because he “had relations” with a woman during his initiation in the Sacred Forest. So he was put to death. Kind of harsh, but it might have been worth it. Hundreds of people are in the Mile High Club. How many people have had sex in a Sacred Forest? It’d be like you and a bunch of sleazy Disney characters. Thumper suddenly comes to mind.

Overall, the visit to meet the King was fantastic. The King was very friendly, if a bit intimidating. He was extremely generous and provided everyone with a huge lunch. Afterwards we came back and had a few beers and watched the Olympics.

Speaking of the Olympics, I’m extremely torn over Team USA (AKA the Redeem Team). I love Kobe Bryant, I love Dwight Howard, I love LeBron James, and I love America. But do I love those things more than I hate Coach Krzyt-head? I… I don’t know. I can’t bring myself to root really hard for the team knowing the Rat bastard is on the sideline, but it was a lot of fun watching LeBron and Kobe jump out of the gym all day against a woeful team China (although, if anyone wants to send me one of those super fresh Team China Nike jerseys, I won’t complain). Final Olympic thought: There’s this smoking hot girl on the USA gymnastics team named Nastia. I am down with that.

So I leave for my post 2 weeks from today. That’s pretty wild. Model school is finished and I’ve graded all my final exams. My classes did pretty well so I’m excited about that. I only had to fail one kid, but she didn’t even have anything nice to say about my bubu so no great loss there. I hope I don’t get too into this whole teaching thing though. I’d like to be able to afford things one day.

I think I’m going to be getting a kitten next week to take with me to post. Half for companionship and half to kill cockroaches and mice. A few girls got some and they’re really fun. I have a picture of Tess’s (which she has aptly named Petit Lion) uploaded with the rest above. Any ideas for names when I do get one? I’m thinking Hobbes. Leave any suggestions in the comments.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Cameroonian Kids Say the Darndest Things

I’ve been almost embarrassingly active on the blog this week. Last post for a while, but I had to put this up because I’m sitting here grading quizzes and I think you’ll get a kick out of this.

So I had my first full-length bubu made last week. It’s pretty sweet looking. Kind of like a silvery blue-ish color with embroidery on the collar and sleeves that one could only describe as "tastefully baller." Pictures forthcoming, eventually. Anyway, I gave my chemistry class a quiz this past Friday. For the last question on the quiz, I wrote: “For a free bonus point, write about how much you like Mr. Browning’s new bubu.” Some of the responses I got were priceless. And I promise that I didn’t make any of these up.

“I like Mr. Browning’s new bubu because firstly it fits him nicely. Secondly, it is a responsible dress. His wearing it makes him more and more responsible and gentle.”

Man dresses and responsibility go hand in hand in Cameroon.

“Mr. Browning’s new bubu is very nice with his shoes. He will be a very beautiful man in his life.”
You know what? You’re damn right I will be a beautiful man in my life.

“I like Mr. Browning’s new bubu. He looks like a country man with it. I will like to have one like that.”

This boy got an A+ and my tailor’s card.

“I think Mr. Browning has the best bubu I have ever seen in Bangangté.”
I gave this student the best grade ever seen in Bangangté.

My personal favorite, however:

“Mr. Browning’s new bubu is too big on him but he seems okay with that.”
This girl has an absolutely fantastic sense of humor. Needless to say, she will not be passing my class this summer.