Tuesday, January 3, 2012

South Africa

Hey Everyone!

I'm on a crunch for internet time so here's all the highlights from our stay in South Africa thus far:

-Landed in Jo'burg on the 22 of Dec and went out to a tiny little town in the Free State to spend Christmas with two Cameroonian priests, Father Emmanuel and Father Silvester. They were wonderful hosts and we all (me, Liz, and Julie) spent a fabulous Christmas together. Ended up doing a little volunteer work in one of the Townships in their parish and had a quiet Christmas dinner with a French couple that attended mass in the Town.

-Next stop, we spent the night with a couch surfer in a small suburb outside of Jo'burg. We had a Mongolian BBQ and spent the evening cuddling with a pair of humongous Canadian Timber Wolves (our host was involved with volunteering a a wolf shealer).

- After our night with the wolves we spent the day in Jo'burg center at the Apartheid museum. Got to spend the day getting a better understanding the history of South Africa.

-Off to Cape Town! Took an overnight bus to the Cape and have been staying with couch surfers who live at the base of Table Mountain. Thus far we have... gone to a movie, ate a ton of good food, tried sushi for the first time, went to the beach, went a vineyard, went to the botanical gardens, climbed Lion's head Mountain, went to Boulder's Beach to see African Penguins, hung out with other backpackers, new year's eve on long street and meeting the most incrdible people from all of\vewr the world

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Day 2

Good Morning From Ethiopia!

So it's day two of our grand adventure and I've only got a few min. left of internet to update you all on the happenings of my life in the past 48 hours. I think most of you know this, but I am now an official RPCV (returned peace corps volunteer). It was a pretty emotional departure from village, but after a week of dealing with administrative paper work i felt pretty good about leaving ;)

Just to bring everyone up to speed: Myself and two other volunteers, L and J decided about a year ago to take a cross continental backpacking trip through southern Africa. What started out as simply a "you know what would be cool" dream, has turned into an reality and I could not be more excited. Now I don't know how often I'll be able to post, but I will do my very best to keep everyone in the loop as our adventure unrolls.

Day 1: L, J, and I all made it to Douala after one last weekend at the beach. It was such a nice way to say goodbye to friends and country that has become our home. After we packed up our bags and did one more purge to find the stuff we didn't need we were off. First stop, Douala airport. In a effort to save money we decided to sleep overnight in the airport which for us translated into sleeping in the "luxury" airport restaurant couches and paying a little "motivation" for the night guards to keep and eye on us and our stuff.

Day 2: We boarded our flight and waved goodbye to Cameroon. It wasn't until we touched off that it really hit... this is it, so long to Cameroon. We spent pretty much the entire day flying with a layover in the Central African Republic and Ethiopia. As I type this I have just been roused from my AMAZING hotel bed (thank you Ethiopian airlines!) and and getting ready to head back to catch the last leg of your flight.

More updates to come


Friday, August 5, 2011

There and Back Again

So it has kindly been brought to my attention (and by kindly I’m referring to the pestering that I’ve been getting on the mom front) that it has been 3 months since my last post… sorry about that. Subsequently this is probably going to be my longest entry to date, because I have literally traveled halfway across the world and back.

Where to begin, where to begin… I guess we should start with camp number one. Since about January myself and a couple other volunteers in my area have been planning summer camps. The easy parts of that were picking locations, rallying the troops, and creating lesson plans. The not so easy part was figuring out how to pay for all this fun stuff. Our goal was to get most of it locally funded and at the time it seemed like an easy enough thing to do. Our budget was pretty small and I figured all we had to do was sweet talk a few “big-men,” offer them a small reception with the appropriate amount of recognition and ego stroking at the closing ceremonies and that plus a hefty portion of guilt-trip would do the trick… HA I was so naïve. As it turns out people are more then willing to say they’ll contribute, but when it comes to collecting the doe… well that’s a different story. Now anybody who knows me at all will tell you I don’t mess around when it comes to people lying to me. I don’t care if you ARE a VIB (very important bigman), if you promise to fund three quarters of our budget and then try and back out because you don’t have a single ounce of dignity in your body… you better believe I’m gonna wage a small warpath against you and your cronies. Suffice to say I may have ruffled a few feathers and burned a few bridges, but I got the money and we were able to do the camps.

The first of the camps was at a primary school situated in between these two tiny villages about 20 minutes outside of Bankim. We ended up pulling kids from what are the equivalents of 6th, 5th, and 4th grade and had about 52 kids in total show up (not too shabby!). The themes for the week were HIV and Life skills with a football tournament built in to the end of the day. Some of you might be reading this and thinking to yourselves, my God, is it really appropriate to be talking about HIV with elementary school kids? I know this because before I moved here I would have said the same thing, but the harsh reality is that many girls drop out and get married right around this age and for the ones (boys and girls) who do go on to lycee (high school)… well lets just say they need to know how to stay safe. With all that being said I think the camp went off well and I know the kids came away having learned some new stuff!

So with one camp down and one to go I deep cleaned my house,* packed up my bag, (which, by the way, is one of those big hiking packs and it totally makes me look like a legit world traveler ☺ ) and headed off to Yaoundé to leave for vacation. With the exception of a minor detail mix-up involving my ride from the airport having the wrong day, my flight state side went off without a hitch. All I kept thinking as I was flying across the Atlantic was, “My goodness economy class never felt so luxurious!” Four meals, 14 hours of bad in-flight entertainment, and 2 days later I was back in the motherland. We touched down early afternoon, and would you believe the first 2 people I came across in America were Cameroonians? The first was my customs officer (not a group of people known for their friendliness factor). Now I wasn’t transporting anything illegal but I was still feeling a touch of the airport customs jitters, only made worst by the fact that officer who’s line I was standing in was giving the man in front of me a particularly difficult time. Not gonna lie, when he said next, and I walked up to his window I was a little bit worried he would give me trouble too.
“Passport. Customs card. Where are you coming from today ma’am?”
“Cameroon via Brussels.”
“CAMEROON?! Parlez vous français?”
“Ya I parlez the français!”
After that we chatted a few minuets in French and he waved me right on through. I grabbed my bags and then headed out to the main waiting area.

The first thing I saw when I turned the corner was a herd of overly zealous people waving American flags and holding welcome posters, and as I was clearly not who they were there to see they all had similar looks of disappointment on their faces when I came into sight. The second thing I saw was one of a scarce few open seats in the packed waiting area so I quickly hopped on that. No sooner had I sat down did I realize the gentleman sitting next to me was speaking French into his cell phone, and at just about 2 years into my service I could have picked that accent out anywhere. Sure enough, the guy finished up his call and I asked him if he was from West Africa. He said yes, so then I went a little further and asked if he was from Cameroon. He was. The guy asked me how I knew so I told him I recognized the accent (the speed talking at a ridiculously loud volume kind of gave it away too). In true Cameroonian fashion the guy ended up giving me his full life story while I waited for my ride to arrive. So there you have I spend 23 months in Cameroon, come home for vacation, and the first two people I meet are Cameroonians… small world!

I could probably write pages and pages detailing my month at home, but let’s not kid ourselves here… I don’t really want to do that and you probably don’t want to read it, so let me just hit you with the highlights:

1.Got picked up at the airport by two of my favorite ladies who then treated me to a Bacon and extra cheese pizza as my first meal state side.
2.Exactly one hour after that had to ask my two favorite ladies to stop because the bacon and extra cheese were reeking havoc on my intestinal track.
3.Graduationpalooza 2011 went down the first couple days I was home. My youngest brother and one of my cousins graduated this year so I got to participate in the whirlwind that was ceremonies, family dinners, and grad parties.
4.My 4th of July was spent on Smith Mountain Lake with the girls and Nanny & crew. As always the Palmers didn’t disappoint. There was water skiing and tubing (without the fear of contracting schisto, a fun little snail parasite that lives in fresh water, permeates your skin, and lays eggs inside of you), fireworks on the lake, corn hole matches, golf cart parades, good southern cookin’, and of course cases of cheep beer. The weekend was a blast, but the whole time I just kept thinking what in the world would Hawoua think if she could see me now. If the being pulled behind a fast moving boat in a blown up inter-tube, or blowing up colorful explosives for fun in the middle of the night didn’t get her, surely the site of everyone in bathing suits would have put her over the edge ;)
5.I was in the Roop/Seager wedding, which what can I say… was an exciting, beautiful, fun, wild time. I was so honored to be in the wedding, grateful I fit into the bridesmaids dress, and happy to see so many people from Tech that I hadn’t seen in years.
6.…and just in case I didn’t get enough wedding fun in one weekend, I got to go round two the next week at the Gibaldi/Knight wedding. I think it goes without saying that it was another beautiful ceremony, fantastic reception, great music, and good friends.
7.Last but most certainly not least, I went to the midnight showing of the final Harry Potter movie… yes I am huge nerd, yes I do LOVE the fictional magic world of Hogworts, yes my brothers and I drew dark mark tattoos on our forearms, and yes, yes I did have to go to a wedding the next day with faint outline of said tattoo still on my arm.

So that was my little holiday in a nutshell. It was kind of a whirlwind of visiting people, eating, answering the same two questions over and over again (Well, so tell us how’s Africa? And what are you going to do when you get home?), and frantically trying to fit it all into 4 and a 1/2 weeks, but I had an excellent time!

Just like I knew I was bound for the western world when I caught my connector in Brussels and all of a sudden everybody and their brother’s, uncle’s, sister’s cousin had a smart phone, I knew I was bound for Cameroon when I caught that same connector going in the opposite direction. This warrants a blog spot simply because everything about it was just so absolutely Cameroonian. I found the right terminal gate, took a seat, and no sooner had a sat down did the guy next to me bust out his cell phone and began playing Kiriku (a popular Cameroonian song) off of it. The family across from me kept yelling at their two little kids in perfect Special English that, “You people should stop disturbing or I will beat you.” Then, even though you’re supposed to be near your gate at least an hour before boarding 80% of the flight showed up right as we were supposed to be entering the plane (although I suppose right on time is a major improvement from 3 hours late) which in turn caused a major backup/bottle necking problem at the gate, which of course then lead to a spontaneous yelling/finger waggling match between two large women in cabas. Basically the throw down (which you could hear happening from the other side of the airport) went like this but all in French:
“What are you doing?”
“I’m waiting in line.”
“No, you just cut into the line.”
“No I didn’t YOU cut in line!”
“No you did!”
“No you did!”
“I’m gonna call the police.”
“No, I’m gonna call the police!”


Once I actually managed to get on the plane it just kept getting better. The large burly gentleman next to me puts down his tray table, unzips his briefcase, and pulls out this old school, 1998 era, over sized laptop that hangs over a good two inches on both sides of the tray. He then he reaches back into the bag and pulls out this DVD. It was at this point in the game that I realized no good could come from this situation, and sure enough as soon as he put in that disk and pushed play it was just as I expected… village home videos. I need to back track just a minute and explain that from my experience I have concluded that were there an Olympic event for filming home-videos, Cameroon would take gold every time. Anytime more then 50 or so people congregate in the same place, I can pretty much guarantee you someone will appear out of nowhere with a shaky hand and zoom happy fingers to capture the event on film. And the best part about is that for the hours and hours of footage they get nothing ever seems to happen. There’s never a father teaching his kid to play baseball who ends up taking one right to the baby maker, and I’ve never seen a kid fall asleep and face plant right into a plate of corn fou-fou, nothing… just people sitting around, or standing around, or if their feeling really crazy dancing around. And always no matter what the occasion the tape will be dubbed over in heavily synthesized Cameroonian jams (which aren’t bad the first time around but after the second hour of listening to it, it becomes like nails on a chalkboard). Now with that being said, my seat buddy put on one of these cinematic masterpieces and cranked it up to full volume. At one point I actually pushed my headphones into the palm of his hands cause I couldn’t take it anymore, but he in turned graciously declined them stating that he wanted everyone to be able to enjoy the bonne musique. After about an hour and a half the guy finally fell asleep, so I busted out my sweet stealthy ninja moves, reached over him, and cut the volume. VICTORY IS MINE!!!… was what I was thinking right before the lady on the other side of sleeping seat buddy elbowed him awake and tattled on me (yes, a grown women did in fact tattled on me to a complete stranger) . Needless to say the volume was readjusted and I had to endure song after song until the computer battery finally crapped out.

The laptop saga was fun but it doesn’t even hold a candle to what happened next. We were just cruising along just getting ready to start making our final decent when apparently the plane’s windshield broke or cracked or something. Whatever it was the happened caused some pretty intense, unexpected turbulence in the cabin, and 99% of the people aboard immediately started screaming and panicking in a hysterical fit. I really thought “well this is it, this is how it’s gonna go down, me and a plane full of Cameroonians… ASHIA TO ME!” Just as I was think this and the hysterics were about to do me in, seat buddy wakes up from his nap, throws his big arms across me and starts in on a chorus of “JESUS SAVE US, DEAR GOD JESUS SAVE US, PLEASE GOD SAVE US!!!” immediately followed by a couple hail Maries for good measure. And then it was over. Seat buddy promptly switched over to “THANK YOU JESUS’, ” let up on his protective-arm-across-the-chest-action (that at the time of turbulence had kept me practically immobile in my seat)and moved his hand on to my forehead as if to suck the thankfulness right on out of me. The rest of the flight was spent with everyone recounting the time the plane was “jumping too much in the sky”.

After I landed in Yaoundé I spent a day there trying to get re-acclimated and running a few administrative errands, before I set off to Songkolong for camp number two. This camp was the real test. 32 5th and 6th graders under Jackie and my supervision alllllllll day long (and boy let me tell ya, they wore me out!) There were a couple hiccups along the way, but for the most part things went well and again the campers had a really fun time. I don’t know if I would call this a highlight from the week, but definitely the most “interesting” part of the week was giving the boy’s puberty lesson… if you’re trying to imagine this in your head right now… it’s ok to laugh… it was a pretty entertaining situation ☺ All I can say is now I know exactly how my old gym teacher, Coach A. must have felt having to give the girls family life class back in high school.

At the end of the week Jackie and I packed up in Songkolong and I finally began to make my way back to Bankim. When I got back Beamer was ecstatic to see me, all the neighbors came over to greet and ask what I brought back for them, and Sister Julie had prepared a nice welcome home dinner for us. Not a bad homecoming if I do say so myself.

So that brings us to this week. Basically now I’m just trying to get back into the swing of things and figure out what exactly I’m going to do for the last 4 months of service. Piece of cake… right???

* I never understood as a kid why my mom always insisted on cleaning the house before family road trips, and I’m not sure when this started happening, but now I do the same thing…hmmmm… OH GOD I’M BECOMING MY MOTHER! I suppose that’s not such a bad thing ;)

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Funny Side Of Life

A RPCV who was back visiting Cameroon just recently told me, “You know Kate if you have the right sense of humor Cameroon is a pretty funny place to live”. I agree with this statement 100%. Some of the situations I’ve found myself in over the past 17 months can only be described in degrees of hilarity. Let me paint you a picture…

A few weeks ago I went into the “Big City” to do some banking and run a few errands. Everything was going great, I got in at a good hour, was able to get everything I needed done quickly, but it was the return home that proved to be the real challenge. I got to the car depot only to find out that I had missed my bus by, I kid you not, less then 10 min. I should back up a bit and explain something about public transport in Cameroon. No vehicle, be it car, bush taxi, bus, ect… leaves until it’s full, and by that I mean 8 people in a 5 person car and 20+ people in a 15 passenger mini bus. So what this actually means if you are the poor unfortunate soul who is the first to buy your ticket, is that you then have to wait for 19 other people going the same direction as you before the bus will leave… this can take hours… HOURS AND HOURS AND HOURS, and on this particular occasion good old Cameroon, she didn’t let me down. In the end I wound up waiting about 5 hours, leaving me tired, cranky, but with a bag full of goodies I had bought from mobile street venders.

Now as boring as sitting in a bus station all day is the shopping is a major perk (possibly the only perk). The nice thing about Cameroon is that if you stand still long enough people will just come to you. If you’re hungry, give it a few moments and someone will be along asking you to buy their bread or beignets or cookies, or carrots, or pineapple, or oranges, or bananas and the list goes on and on. If someone can carry it on their head then chances are they’ll try to sell it to you in the streets. And it’s not just food either; you can by shoelaces, cell phone charges, scales, underwear, wallets, toothpaste and again the list goes on and on. It’s kind of like the checkout line in the grocery store. You think you’ve got everything you need until you see a piece of candy or a tube of chap stick that you just have to have and so you end up leaving the store with the stuff you went in for and a handful random stuff you didn’t even know you needed (and chances are you probably didn’t). Some of the volunteers (not ashamed to say myself included) have even gone so far as to make a bar game out of it. If everyone one is sitting around a table and someone approaches to try and sell something everyone will look to see what he’s got, and depending on how interesting it is determines the number swigs everyone will take

Food of any kind, tissues, chap stick, candy, and pens
1 swig

Winter jackets, high-healed shoes, cell phones, sunglasses, belts and underwear
2 swigs

Rats on a string, bathroom scales, 80’s inspired infomercial workout machines, and “the cure” for cancer, HIV/AIDS, and all other incurable diseases
3 swigs

A silly game I know but such is life in Cameroon ☺ On this particular day of waiting at the bus station my loot ended up including a new pair of sunglasses, a two egg spaghetti omelet on a baguette, a piece of pineapple, some fired plantain chips, a roll of toilet paper, phone credit, a page of Hanna Montana stickers for the neighbor kids and a few sticks of questionable looking street meat. Not to shabby if I do say so myself ☺

Alrighty back to the story, so the minibus finally fills up and everything has been tied down on the roof. The guy collects the tickets and everyone plies in only to find out that the driver as disappeared. So then search for the chauffer commenced and by the time someone managed to track him down the Al hajjis (Muslim big men) in the car had decided we couldn’t leave until after prayer time. Fast-forward and hour and were finally pulling out of the station.

Needless to say people were a little tense and a good old fashion game of passengers versus driver had officially commenced. Thankfully though, I find Cameroonians to have a pretty short-term memory and they don’t really hold grudges, so after about 10 min of smack talking the driver bygones were bygones and everyone was asleep. Side note: It never ceases to amaze me how Cameroonians can squeeze and contort themselves into truly uncomfortable positions and still fall asleep almost as soon as the car starts moving (and on bumpy dirt roads no less)… it’s pretty incredible!

We’d been going for about an hour when all of a sudden the driver got a phone call and the car stopped. And just as quickly as everyone had fallen asleep, they were all awake. However, there was still complete silence so that everyone could eves drop on the phone call (not that it was difficult because people yell through the phone… sadly I do this too now… sorry if you ever find yourself on the receiving end). It turns out it was the boss of the bus depot telling us his wife needed to go to Banyo so he wanted us to stop to wait for her to come from Bafoussaum on a moto and catch up with us (which ended up taking about an hour). The silence turned into shouts of anger almost instantaneously. The only thing missing from the angry mob were the torches and pitch forks. Everyone was yelling at the driver until the guy sitting next to me decided to take control of the situation by grabbing the drivers phone right out of his hand and started giving the boss on the other end a piece of his mind. The phone was then passed around the car until everyone who wanted to yell at the guy got a chance. On the phone’s way back up front somebody shoved it in my hand and I just couldn’t resist the opportunity to bust out my angry white girl Pigeon French so I gave him a small tongue lashing too ;) In the end the boss said stop, so we had to stop, but the whole thing was a hoot. Just imagine if you were in the states and everyone was taking turns to pass a cell phone around and holler at a complete stranger on the other end!

After the wife on the moto caught up to us everyone piled back in the bus, shot the women their very best stink eye, and we were on the road again. Just like before everyone was asleep in t-minus takeoff and I thought we’d have a pretty quite ride the rest of the way… oh how wrong I was!

We’d been going for a few more hours when all of a sudden I was awoken by the women sitting behind me who happened to be a very large, very sassy market mommy (actually a friend of mine but I would never want to be on her bad side cause I’m pretty sure she could take me down without breaking a sweat). She was yelling at the driver because he was tried and swerving (although in the drivers defense he could have just been avoiding potholes) Mommy was worried we’d go off the road so she was yelling. The driver was appalled that any women would dare talk to him that way and with that tone of voice no less. One thing led to another, and the driver called her a sorceress, she yelled something back in the local language and the car came to a screeching halt. Apparently whatever the mommy had said MIGHT have been a spell. So then everyone in the car spent the next 10 minuets yelling over each other trying to figure out whether or not our driver had in fact been cursed. Ultimately we switched drivers, but whether this was due to witchcraft or exhaustion… the world may never know ;)

So there you have it, my simple trip to the bank turned into a day of shopping off people’s heads without having to move an inch from my seat, 20 people taking turns to yell at a complete stranger over the phone, and what might or might not have been an act of sorcery. Really… REALLY… how could someone not think this was funny ☺

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Hokie Hi

My house doesn’t have running water, more often then not there’s no electricity, and the family of 50+ bats that live in the ceiling always keep life interesting, but fear not, I’ve got all the REAL necessities covered. I’ve got my Virginia Tech flag, my ode to the Hokies picture collage, and VT oven mitts and hot pads. I’ve got my orange effect t-shirt and several different African fabrics in my favorite colors (orange and maroon of course), a Hokie Christmas tree that I leave out all year round and as a bit of icing on the cake, a dog named after the one and only Frank Beamer. Now, some may call this overkill or even an unhealthy obsession, but for me it’s just being a Hokie. I like to think I’m bringing a part of the Hokie Nation to Cameroon. You know, just doing my part to make the world a better place ☺

When people come to visit me at my house I always welcome them in and sit them down in the living room. Occasionally someone will see the Cameroonian flag hanging on the wall and then they ask me if the VT flag hanging next to it is the flag of my country… I always say no but that it sure would be funny if it was (nobody ever gets the joke but I keep telling it because it always makes me laugh… can you even imagine the look on the faces of the Wahoos if the nation was flying maroon and orange!). Then their eyes wander to the chalk words above the two flags and they’ll ask me, “Who is Live for 32?” (There’s a bit of a language gap and they always end up asking like it’s the name of a person). I smile and I tell them all the same thing. I say “ those are the 32 people who helped me get to Cameroon and I put that on the wall to help me remember to say thank you.”

This weekend people will be flocking to Blacksburg for the anniversary, and here I am in Bankim. I’m smack-dab in the middle of a country that’s in the middle of Africa on the other side of the world, but… I still remember. I remember the sadness, the pain, and the realization that the world is a messy place, but I also remember hearing the names, hearing the stories, and being inspired to really live my life. For that I say thank you ☺

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Little Mama Got My Back

When I first got to my village last year I was getting "harassed" non stop by the men in Bankim. Catcalls, pleas for visas, and marriage proposals made walking through the market less then a pleasurable experience. ***SIDENOTE: my top two marriage proposals are the guy who came to my back door with a pineapple and asked to take my hand(I mean come on I think I’m worth at least 2 pineapples) and the guy who asked me as he was peeing off the side of an 18 wheeler driving down the road.*** At a certain point about 3 or 4 weeks into my service I couldn’t handle it anymore. Anything that had made this new (to me at least) phenomenon endearing and cute was gone and in its place stress taking over in a big way. Finally I decided if I was going to retain my sanity over the next two years I had to devise a game plan. With the knowledge that this might give me bad ju-ju down the road I decided to tell people I had a boyfriend back in the states. After the initial little white lie left my lips I thought to myself “what the hell go big or go home” and so after about 5 minutes this imaginary guy had become big, strong, very jealous with anger issues and liable to come to Cameroon and take on anybody who bothered me.

This seemed to do the trick and people generally backed off, except for this one guy (the pineapple guy to be exact) who seemed to take this news of my made up significant other as a challenge. I can’t be sure, and I don’t know how he could tell but I think he must have known I was lying. He kept pushing me, trying to get me to crack until one day (the day he came to my back porch with the pineapple) he called my bluff outright and asked me if he could see a picture of said boyfriend. This was a pretty big pickle I was in, and I only had seconds to act before my whole cover (not to mention any shred of dignity I had left… it’s all gone now in case you were wondering) would be blown. So I pointed to this picture on the wall of me and some of my friends from college, and gestured towards one of my guy friends acknowledging him as the BF. Thankfully he bought it lock stock and barrel… although ironically enough, it didn’t stop him from telling his mother/entire village that we were going to marry, but that’s a whole other story. After the guy had left my house, I hoped on my computer and sent a email to my guy friend in the picture telling him what had happened and asking him (and his serious girlfriend who I am friends with) to be my fake boyfriend for the duration of my 27 months of service. He happily accepted the responsibility of being my phony sweetheart and that pretty much brings us to yesterday.

Yesterday Hawoua, the 17-year-old wife next-door, was in my house inspecting my packages that had just arrived from Yaoundé. After we had gone through a couple rounds of the game I like to call “let me pick up everything, ask what it is, and ask if I can have it” her attention fell on this small picture magnet. It just happened to be a “save the date” wedding magnet from… you guessed it Fake Boyfriend and his now fiancé. I would just like to add that I am so so so happy for the couple and I can’t wait to see them both this summer… ok back to the story. So as she had taken an interest and had inspected the tiny figures in the picture, Hawoua then asked who the two people in the picture were. Of course I explained that they were two of my good friends from college and that they’re getting married this summer. Then in all my infinite wisdom I was like, “Oh wait, I have a better picture of him over here”, and I pointed to this picture I have on the wall. What I didn't realize was that this was the same picture I had used last year to fend off the marriage proposals... whoops... and she remembered…cover officially blown.

But Wait! The story get’s better… Hawoua then, ready to defend my honor asked me how I could let this other women take "my man"... the claws were out, she was speaking in rapid French then switched to high pitched even more rapid Fulfulde (which I couldn’t understand but can only imagine was something to the effect of “why I ought a…!!!”). I got to tell you I've never seen her so worked up before (except for the time Beamer ate all her maggie cubes). If I didn't think it would have made her even more upset I would have started laughing right then and there. Ultimately I decided laughing at the seething Cameroonian women probably wasn’t a good call and eventually I got her to calm down. I did my best to explain the decoy and why I had lied about my relationship status but in the end I don't think she got it. We’ll just say the concept didn’t really translate well ;)

By the next day all the ladies in my neighborhood had heard the news of my falsified fella. But on the upside I have to say its nice to know all these African mommies got my back... even if it is over a fake significant other ;)

Friday, March 25, 2011

Under Attack!

It was two o’clock in the morning when I was suddenly roused from my sleep by Beamer’s “there’s-a-stranger-in-the-compound” barking. After the initial “you’ve just woke up from a deep sleep and now your heart is beating a million miles a minute” phase wore off I laid in my bed straining to hear whatever it was that had startled him. Nothing. And then all of a sudden right outside of my window I heard sticks and buckets being knocked over, then some pots and pans crashing off the back porch.

Now not to scare anybody but every once in a while our local neighborhood foo (crazy person) jumps the fence and makes off with cloths left on the line or buckets, or whatever he can get his hands on. For the most part he’s pretty harmless and luckily for me deathly afraid of Beamer. Normally all it takes is some one in the compound yelling out the window for him to go away or threatening to let the dog lose on him, and he’ll high-tail it out of there.

I waited a few minutes, and even yelled out the window myself but the banging around just kept on, and the more that I listened, the more it began to sound like there was more then one person out there. In fact I sounded like there was a whole gang of them out there. This started to make me nervous so I slid out from under my mosquito net, grabbed my Mag-light and crept into the kitchen with Beamer at my heals.

I wasn’t exactly sure what I was gonna do, but I figured when I turned on my back light and whoever was out there saw me, the dog, and the back end of my Mag-light raised over my head ready to bludgeon someone it would scare them away. I assumed the position, flipped on the light, and much to my surprise instead of a gang of burglars in the backyard stood 4 fat pigs all staring at me like I was the crazy foo. Nothing like a few four legged friends to keep life exciting!