Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Catching Up in Cameroon

Dear all,

The conference is over - and I feel as though I've completed the final sprint, smiling madly and not sleeping all along the way, to now lie collapsed but triumphant over the finish line. My work always ended around midnight or later, long after Habiba closes the gate with lock and key at ten o'clock (and I don't have a key), so I passed the week nights at Alla's or Estelle's. It was great fun to have slumber parties every night, and to truly create a second nest for myself here in Yaounde...but I didn't sleep so much. I was back at work, rearranging booths and chairs and registering presentations, by 7 in the morning every day.
Advantages of this set-up: both the night and day guards became my friends; I didn't use any phone credits because no stores were ever open when I was out, and I could not recharge my phone for a whole week; I picked up lots of cool discarded decorations from the booths, which my families here have loved; I learned that one can survive on coffee break leftovers (that is, the insides of chocolate croissants) for about five days, before getting a stomach ache; and coffee actually tastes pretty good, with enough milk and sugar.
Disadvantages: I schlepped at least 3 bags full of clothes and fruit and books everywhere I went; I did not sleep; and I don't know if I can enjoy my previous "leisurely" runs up the the Palais des Congres as much as I used to.
In any case, I left Palais des Congres on the final day feeling like I had really ocntributed to an important effort, and worked hard as HELL and effectively, and now I can relax! It is time to sleep, pack light, eat better food, enjoy the outdoors, smile without strain, and generally have the OTHER part of the Cameroon experience - the traveling, the resting, the hiking, the shopping, the talking, the resting, the sleeping, the resting, the sleeping, the blogging, etc.

So here is a quick catch-up plan for the rest of my time here:

Traveling - I'm now in Dschang with Thomas and Therese and kids, loving everything about this original "home" of mine. It feels so comfortable, and even in my tiredness, I smile at the cocks' early morning crows and the cool morning bucket baths. Being here in the mountains is so refreshing, and the family is equally lovely... The kids have been kept busy braiding my hair and playing with the sparkly conference decorations I brought, and I have stayed busy resting the shaded chairs outside, eating delicious tiny bananas, having a dress made at the tailor, strolling through the market, and planning the next few weeks. Tomorrow Alla (staying here with a Peace Corps friend) and I leave Dschang for Bafoussam, where we will meet Estelle and her friend Raymond, whose family will lodge us for a night. Then back to Yaounde...and Estelle leaves on Friday! A little party is being palnned for her last night, and we are busy collecting African clothes and priceless ABIBAS and NIKKE gear for her. Next week I will travel to Bertoua in the East Province (rainforest area) to meet Alla's homestay family, and possibly travel up north afterwards, if I can find a good travel companion. Somewhere between the start of December and when my family comes (yayyyyyyyyyy, i love you!!!), I will spend a weekend night in Douala with Ousman, Josh, and Alla, and then Alla and I will go on to Buea and Limbe to climb Mt. Cameroon.

Thanksgiving - Happy Thanksgiving to you all! We are planning a cross-cultural dinner for this Saturday - Josh, the main host and planner; Alla and myself, the cultural consultants and assistant cooks; and all of our Cameroonian friends and families, the guests of honor. We will have turkey and stuffing and green beans and mashed potatoes, as well as plantain pie, mango ginger smoothies, fufu mais,
and a kick-ass fruit salad.

Recipes of the Week - Cooks, hold your ladles and whisks ready, cause I'm coming back with more soon! I will perfect a cornchof recipe tonight with Therese, and post that soon. I will see what else is left in my little book...but give me a minute, unless you want to know how to excavate pain-au-chocolate (chocolate croissants) and mix a nice cup of cafe-au-lait (coffe and milk, very complicated).

Loving you very much,



Blogger Anny said...

Just wanted to say that I've sent some notes I gathered from your blog including Catching Up in Cameroon for research on organize work which I'm helping with, with so thanks a lot Mara. Anny.

5:26 AM  

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