December 27, 2007

Christmas was nice. Some volunteers and I made a Christmas dinner at my house. We brought from town both a chicken and a cat that day. The chicken we killed and cooked to eat, and the cat we spoiled with love and attention…and fed lots of food! The no bake pumpkin pie turned out to be absolutely delicious (thanks, Mom). Luckily my furniture was finished so that I cleaned up my living room and set up a small tree so that everything looked nice. During the day, I went into town and visited my friend, Maitre, a boutique owner where I buy much of my food. He had a kitten that stays inside the boutique to keep away mice and things. This time, the kitten was tied up in pink ribbon and looking precious! I figured it had to be meant to be after that. I asked him if I could borrow her. He told me to take her, that he would find another kitten to watch his store. Afraid of the responsibility, I opted to borrow her for a few days, but after spending Christmas with Sammy and noticing that she does not tear up furniture (although she likes to hide chicken underneath my bed!) and is content to be rocked like a baby in my arms from time to time, I can see that she is a nice addition to making this place feel more like home. She has already learned how to give me kitty kisses (nose to nose); I think that it will nevertheless be good for me to have someone else to take care of and to encourage my staying in village more of the time. And whenever I’m away, I know that I’m free to send her for visits at the boutique with Maitre, a great friend that called Tim when he was sick, and who has started to call me every few days if he doesn’t see me in town.

Christmas day was a day of eating, drinking, and visiting neighbors in village. Everyone I passed in the streets was dressed up in their best clothes. I baked cookies and pineapple upside down cake to give away (that was given out quickly!). The kids loved the cookies that somehow turned out soft and tasty (contrary to the belief of family members who have witnessed my cooking skills of the past)! All of the young people went out dancing Christmas night, where the club was packed with people.

As the New Year approaches, I’m coming to accept just how long this integration process is going to take, and the fact that I may just not become as part of my village as I thought I would be able to. I have found it true that every PC Volunteer has a different experience, which means that some volunteers have absolutely fallen in love with their communities, some have become very close to their counterparts, and some have just arrived at the tip of the iceberg of making friendships with Cameroonians. Some volunteers go along with their desire to spend a lot of time alone, learning much about them selves, and some have gone along with their desire to give themselves to their communities through mingling within it constantly. I am somewhere in between. I stand in a place where small children have become my best friends, where I sometimes ignore the knocks on my door just to escape everything and resort to my solitude.

There’s Something About Christmas Time

December 22, 2007

“Remember when we had Christmas?!”
– Sarah Goehler, Peace Corps Volunteer

Without rehearsing for the annual Filipino Christmas party with Isiak and the Abrils, having gifts to wrap, eggnog, overplayed Christmas music on the radio, overcrowded stores, Christmas Vacation and Charlie Brown, the Smith family 7-layer dip, mint hot chocolate in the cold on the square, and without the abundance of lights and decorations, in many ways this month just feels like another. That feeling is only partly with me this year, and I miss everyone more than ever. I will do my best to replace my homesickness with new fond memories of a Christmas in Africa.

Happy Christmas!!

I know that it has been too long since I have been online, so I will include a few photos from previous days at Kribi for the In Service Peace Corps Training conference. We were to choose one counterpart to go along with us, so I brought my colleague who teaches with me, Sintia. She stepped into the water for the first time, and we taught her how to swim. From then on, she hardly got out of the water, so I think that she enjoyed herself. What a wonderful get away to visit with my fellow training group and relax before falling back into things in village again.