Friday, September 26, 2008

One word review of The Dark Knight



Additionally - The Joker has replaced Patrick Bateman as my favorite character from anything ever.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Have I got a travel story for you...

Prologue: Sometimes things go so badly, you actually question whether or not there is a God. Then sometimes things go so badly that your faith in God's existence is reaffirmed; you know that there's a God because he must have been up all night planning how he was going to *&%$ all over my day. I travelled from my post to the capital city of Yaounde today. Upon leaving, I texted a friend who's been here a year asking how long the trip would be. She said it should take 3 hours at the shortest and 5 at the longest. After reading this post, you can guess for yourself how long it took me to get there.

We left Mbouda, a large town near me at 12PM. We made excellent time driving to Bafoussam, arriving in just under an hour. I remember enjoying that hour thoroughly. I had enough room where I could actually lie down in my seat. It was noon, and the whole day was ahead of me. Life was good.

One could think of this trip as BB and AB. Before Bafoussam and After Bafoussam. Before Bafoussam, I was a happy young man with a bright future and faith in mankind. After Bafoussam I was a angry goblin whose fury made him small and callous.

After arriving in Bafoussam, we sat in the Agency parking lot waiting for more passengers for two and a half hours. We were full after an hour and a half, the last hour was spent searching for our driver, who had disappeared into a nearby bar. I'm not even going to get into that. So after making great time for the first hour, the entire day was shot. I already knew I'd be arriving after dark, which was a bit of a pain in the ass itself, because Yaounde is not a very safe city.

After driving for about an hour, I feel like someone is trying to reach in and take my wallet. I smack the hand away of an 10 year old boy who looks at me guiltily, and tell his father what he was doing. He smacked his boy so hard across the face that I genuinely felt bad for telling on him. All those feelings of remorse quickly disappeared after I felt him digging for it again 20 minutes later. This time I looked away as his father went to town on him.

Roughly 12 to 13 hours later (I kind of lost count) I was able to check off one of the things on my "Do before you leave Africa" list. I saw a monkey! Four monkeys actually! We were pulled up at a control station (one of the 50 stops we made) and four monkeys were pressed up against my window! Four dead monkeys. Dead. There was a man holding four dead monkeys. Trying to sell them to me and the other passengers. To eat. They were totally in tact, not skinned or anything. Very fresh. Probably only clubbed to death minutes earlier. I just kind of sat there stupidly with my mouth open while he tried to peddle his wares. For a moment there, I was worried that I wouldn't get a good look at these, the first monkeys I've seen in Africa. Lucky for me, though, the woman next to me decided she'd like nothing more than braised chimp for dinner and bought one. So I spent the next 30 hours with curious george staring at me with dead eyes. There are some things you can't unsee.

All in all, the trip actually took around 9 hours. That's 280 KM travelled in 9 hours. I once drove from Chapel Hill to Long Island (530 miles) in eight hours. I can't express to you the frustration that this trip caused me. I had to wait about 4 hours before writing this post up, because if I had written it immediately on arrival, I probably would have typed it with my forehead and then put my foot through the motherboard.

I'm safe and sound in Yaounde now, and I've taken a nice hot shower. Tomorrow I'm going to watch a The Dark Knight bootleg (thanks mom and dad!) and I'll redo this whole catastrophe and head home on Saturday morning. Stay classy.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

14 weeks down, only 90 to go!

My house is finally a house! Sorta. I’ve got my living room set all moved in. Couch, four arm chairs, nice coffee table, and that’s in addition to the bamboo couch and arm chairs that I already have. When you walk into my front door, it actually looks like a living room. It’s fantastic.

The past week or two have been pretty stressful. I haven’t really started teaching, because everything is still getting rolling at my school. When they say that September 8th is the first day of school, they really mean that is the first day that school starts setting up. I have my schedule (more or less) ironed out, but I am still waiting on textbooks. Its really hard to teach a class I have no training in (like Physics) without a textbook. Hopefully that will all be worked out by this coming Monday, however.

Life in Babadjou has been really great. It’s gotten on my nerves a little bit standing out as much as I do. Anytime I do anything I’m getting gawked at and laughed at on occasion. It wasn’t as bad in Bangangte because I was with so many other volunteers, so it never really bothered me. It’s a little bit worse when you’re by yourself. That’s not to say I’m not having fun though, I am. Most of my coworkers are very friendly and so is the owner of a bar in the market. He’s a really nice guy and his place has the coldest beer I’ve had since leaving the States.

I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately, and I’m about halfway through a non-fiction book called Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies by Jared Diamond. It’s about how different societies came to be more powerful than others. It won the Pulitzer and it’s really interesting. I’ll put up a mini-review when I finish it.
It’s nice to see the Tar Heels and the Giants both come out of the gates firing on all cylinders, since the Yankees are not going to make the playoffs. But I guess if they have to miss the postseason, I’m glad its when I’m out of the country. Justin Tuck is one of the top 3 defenders in the league right now. Argue all you want, its science.

I also wanna say thanks to my buddies who are sending me some packages (Billy, PG, Ky). The books and hot sauce are going to come in very handy. Thanks again.

Jessi – I hope your first year at Delaware is going well and that you’re making a lot of friends. Next summer is not so far away, Europe here we come! Love you kid

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Babadjou?! But I barely know you?

I think I need a shower after that joke. It’s been pretty hectic putting my house together and getting used to being completely on my own. The house is still pretty empty but I’ve been able to acquire a few things. I also talked to a volunteer who is headed home really soon and she’s going to sell me most of my stuff, so I should actually have a more-or-less fully furnished house in the next 3 weeks or so.

But aside from moving in, having my own place has really been great. The house is huge. Three bedrooms, one bathroom, one kitchen, and a giant living room. The whole thing is surrounded by 10 foot cement walls with broken glass shards at the top, so I’m pretty secure. I’ve got a little porch area, and I’ve set up a bamboo chair so I can sit out front and read. I think my favorite part of the house is the kitchen, though. It’s great to be able to cook for myself. I think I’m making rice and beans tonight. Yum.

The only real complaint I have about the place so far is that I have no water. It’s not that bad because I have a giant barrel outside that collects rain water, but if it goes a few days without raining then I have to have little kids (les petites) fetch it for you. And let me tell you, you don’t realize how much water you go through in a given day until you start having it handed to you in yellow emergency jugs by a seven year old. The dry season is gonna suuuuck.

I’ve been meeting a lot of people that live near me and a few coworkers. Everyone’s been really friendly and its made the whole transition a lot easier. Once I get better with the language and start making more friends in the area it’ll all be gravy.

Speaking of coworkers, I have no idea what’s going on with my school. They’ve told me that the class schedule should be ready by this Monday. Which is great, because then I can know what classes I’m going to be teaching. Only problem is, classes START this Monday. So yeah. Awesome. Not to mention they’ve been hounding me to teach English and Computer Sciences (in French). I kinda put my foot down and told them I’d only be teaching things that I’m trained to teach (Radical thinking, n’est-ce pas?) We’ll see how that works out.

Anyway what’s new with everyone back home? Grad-schools and such are starting so let me know. Also send me books. I’ve been reading like a fiend lately (as there’s not much to do here until school starts) and I’m running out of stuff to read.

I’ll post again next weekend after my first week of actual teaching. Wish me luck!