The Holidays are over. Finally. I have to admit I’m relieved. They weren’t particularly bad—in fact, they weren’t particularly anything. I suppose that was the problem. But now it is January (2008! Oh the excitement of no longer having to write the number 7! Such a disappointment after a whole year of writing my favorite number 6!) and supposedly all over Cameroon people will really be getting back into the swing of things. Ready to buckle down and do some serious developing. Like, as a nation.
For my part, I’ve been informed by my counterpart that I will be heading out to one of four villages who’s name I cannot remember “everyday” this month. The water sources in this particular village are pretty much…terrible, so I think one of my first projects will be to look into getting a spring-box built. (A sort of complex water filtration and storage contraption that makes streams a much cleaner source of water…they involve actual engineering, and I, as a History major, know exactly nothing about them. Do you know what I do know? I know that the defeat of the Spanish Armada took place in 1588. I’ll be sure to mention that when I’m putting together the grant request.)
I’m looking forward to doing some actual work, as opposed to sitting on my porch accepting beers from my neighbor at 8:30 AM. (Grandmaster Flash—you are going to love this country.) My counterpart Yannick and I put together a ‘plan of action’ for the next four months. Well, he put together a plan of action, while I sat and sweated and grew increasingly freaked out by the fact that I felt nauseous. (Don’t worry, I went home and threw up and then slept for 20 hours and then I was right as rain!) You might be interested to know that in February, I will be ‘creating a Youth Club’ and in March, I will be ‘evaluating the Youth Club’. Voila! Just like that! Yannick seemed unfazed by my questions about how one goes aboutcreating a Youth Club—let alone evaluating it afterwards. But then, I suppose that is one of my favorite things about Yannick. How completely unfazed he is by the ever increasing evidence of my incompetence. He keeps telling me how I am going to have “beaucoup de travail” and I hope he is right.
I’m starting to get to know some of the people in my village. My neighbors are great—very friendly, and I’m not just saying that because they give me beer. The kids also fetch my water. Ha-zing. The lady at the bar that I always go to brings me a Mutzig as soon as I walk in without me even asking. I finally found an omelet place (which means I can give up on my futile attempts to make them myself and stick to fried egg sandwiches). I was invited to a wedding reception on New Year’s Eve. And most importantly, Yannick has started introducing me as Kimberlee Belinga, Princess of Ngoulemakong. Royalty! After only a month. I don’t know why everyone doesn’t join the Peace Corps. Aside from the ever so slight chance of getting amoebic dysentery and the fact that you’re covered in sweat all the time, this place is just grand.
Happy New Year, kids. Here’s to prosperity and those little mini fans you can wear around your neck.