Right, so the internet has been down. Aside from it being incredibly evasive and nonexistent in my village, it has been down even when I’ve traveled to the “big city”. Now, it looks like things may take an upward swing. Such a thing as internet USB devices exist. Unfortunately there are three sorts and they don’t exactly work everywhere. Until I know exactly where I’m going to be posted in this country, I won’t be making such a purchase.
I also should apologize for what you are about to read. At the moment I’m incredibly unorganized. I don’t really even know what exactly I posted last time. It is quite difficult to express exactly how busy training is. I mean anything would be relatively busy when compared with what I did for the six months or so prior to leaving the good ole US, but we are pushing things to the extreme.
Training is an all day affair, six or seven days a week (though Saturdays and Sundays have so far been half days). They’ve kicked it up farther by starting immersion at the training house. Meaning if we are there, we are speaking French. They are kind enough to keep the Tech training in English though (that too will change). This is a good idea as I imagine it would be inconvenient and damn near reckless if I only understood half of my health related training. Needless to say, my brain is usually fried from all the French language at the end of the day. Sadly there is nowhere to run; home is training too. Only harder since they aren’t exactly teachers. And they have thicker accents. And sometimes mumble. Or talk to each other with incredible speed. Or address me without looking at me. Oh, and they always second guess whether or not I understand and usually don’t believe me even when I do. I could go on, but you get the point. I’m not widely known as a patient man and there is only so many ways to tell an eight year old that it doesn’t matter how many times they repeat a word if I’ve no idea what the word means. Half of home life is training children to train me. It’s weird.
No, Mom, I’m not ready to come home yet.
I’m actually really enjoying it here. I’ve had a few moments (read: days) where I feel kinda clostraphobic from never having a moment to myself, but all in all I’m having an awesome time. I played soccer with the locals the other day for example. Yes, they were a million times better than me, but I was not completely useless. I actually impressed myself. I did slip and fall and everyone thought it was hilarious. In my defense, we play on packed dirt here and it is quite slippery. Not really sure how they manage it without cleats and gear, but suppose I’ll learn. I scraped myself up decent, but as of the moment it appears to not be horribly infected like the med people warn us about and I might even get to keep the leg. Hizzah! But that’s not even the best part! I was on the shirtless team, oh yes. While I felt it was probably unnecessary as I’m relatively easy to distinguish given the circumstances, I’m all about immersion. I do hope someone managed a picture of all these chiseled Cameroonians and my hairy, white self running about.
More fun: we got bicycles the other day! I might have enjoyed the whole repair training part the best. Changing and repairing a tire is pretty simple, but I got to do things like take apart the chain and put it back together. It’s weird how happy things like that make me. Just doing things with my hands. We are trying to put together a skill swap and I’d love to do some wood working, but I’ve no idea where I’d find tools, much less what exactly would be useful. When I look around, the stuff people here use for tools are pretty historic. They are tilling fields with shovels. Anyway, I was super excited about the bikes and just rode around the training house while everyone got ready to go for a bike ride around town. It’s hilly and the roads are pretty shitty in a lot of it, but it’s a great way to see the country. I’m looking forward to exploring my site via bike. The Peace Corps has tried to drill in the fact that the bike is for professional purposes. Fair, but since my job title seems incredible vague and to include “evaluating the needs of a community by observation”, well that seems to imply a solid amount of freedom.
At least I hope. As of now we are still super restricted. We need permission to do anything and are supposed to be chaperoned if we go anywhere. Hell, I have a seven o’clock curfew and am only allowed one large beer. Or two little ones. They claim the beers here are stronger. The big ones come in .65 liter bottles and are 5-6 percent alcohol. My favorite pub in Charleston sold 8 or even 10 percent beers by the liter for 10 bucks. That was a good place. The point being, we are under quite a few restrictions. And being the upstanding sort of fellow I am, I naturally abide by every one of them. Course I’ve yet to figure out exactly who is enforcing the rules…
I’m looking forward to site for a lot of reasons. Certainly I will enjoy regaining my freedom (Though not all of them. Dear God, I’m not sure how I’m supposed to watch people constantly driving motorcycles for two years and not get one myself!), but a lot of it is just wanting to start. I’m still just waiting. I mean I know how badly I need these French lessons, but it has been so long! We aren’t even half way through training either. Seems like I’ve a long way to go.
I thank those of you who have emailed me. I haven’t even gotten to read them all, but promise I will respond when I get the chance. It’s just awesome to know there are people out there. I do get the whole EVERYONE is new feeling creeping up. Like a fine wine, I only taste good with age and these people barely know me. Hell, the poor Cameroonians can only catch the bare minimum. I’m like a child to them and completely unable to express myself. I actually was talking about that with the host parents yesterday. Not that I mind how awesomely they take care of me. I may be taking advantage of their kindness a bit… but hey, if they want to do all my chores and serve me my meals, who am I to complain?
Until next time, my friends. The brief: I assure you I am actually learning some French. I like this Africa thing, though I’m living in a bubble at the moment. The family situation continues to be interesting; the parental figures and I are starting to have actual conversations (including a really interesting one where we talked about AIDS for one of my classes). I hope that I can actually coordinate my thoughts in a manner more conducive to storytelling in the future. That may just have to wait till site. Everything is so blurry at the moment. And really, I should be working on all these outside projects they keep giving me. I’ve no idea when they expect me to do them though. When I feel a bit overwhelmed, I just remind myself that they certainly aren’t going to send me home. Poor bastards are stuck with me.
Weirdest thing? I’m kinda getting used to it here. TIA or “This is Africa” is becoming a thing.