Monday, December 22, 2008

From Trainee to Volunteer (written Dec. 7)

As of last Thursday, I am now an official Peace Corps Volunteer! This means that I somehow passed my language training. I don’t really know how though because I lost my voice that day and was slightly disorientated from the cold medication that I took earlier that day, but it happened. It’s good to finally be done with training, but a little bittersweet to leave the 28 American’s that I’ve been incessantly hanging out with for three months.

We had the ceremony at the superfey’s house (kind of a more important mayor). The U.S. ambassador to Cameroon came along with tons of government officials from the area and the PC Director. It was a lot of pomp and circumstance and more than a little bit uncomfortable because of the black pagne all the girls had to wear, but very exciting as it was my second graduation this year.

The boys in their bou-bous.

The girl’s in the black pagne that absorbs the sun.

One of the musician’s that played music, before and during the ceremony.

With my homestay brother, mom, and sister. Notice the chickens and eggs on my mom’s pagne. They also have pagne with fans, oil cans, Paul Biya, toasters; I’m sure my fashion taste will only improve here. I heard through the grapevine that Obama pagne might be coming to Cameroon at some point.

After 11 weeks of training, I’m not sure I’m completely capable of making my own schedule, cooking my own food, and basically taking care of myself. I’m sure I’ll figure it out. So far I’ve helped Thea, a volunteer living in Mokolo, clean/rearrange her house because I’ll be staying there a fair amount to get fresh veggies, internet, and do banking. Tomorrow I’ll be moving to my post, but unfortunately not my house as I would like to some furniture in it before I settle in it. I’m a little bit nervous, but mostly excited to start meeting people in my community and begin the two years.

Drinking some billy bill at another trainees house. It's an alcoholic drink made from mill and tastes like balsalmic vineger.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Can it still be called Thanksgiving if the turkey wasn’t invited?

The answer, of course, is yes! Last Thursday us Americans took over the Garoua PC office and cooked everything that would be at a Thanksgiving feast…except the turkey. The pilgrims would be so proud. It was actually amazing that we pulled it off: we had four burners (and no oven) to cook a feast for 50 people. Hopefully I will be able to put up all the pics that I wanted to.

Here is proof that there never can be too many cooks in the kitchen. In the foreground are the guacamole makers, then the onion cutter, and in the background the garlic is being diced for the garlic mashed potatoes. So the menu was deviled eggs, stuffing, peanut butter squash (I was on that team), garlic mashed potatoes and stuffed tomatoes. All we needed was Mama Delaney’s scalloped potatoes. Oh well!

The chicken is being grilled over an open flame; thanks to the chicken team, they turned out really delicious and almost made up for the sans turkey meal.

And for dessert, there was a fruit salad and oatmeal raisin cookie balls. Here, the pineapples and the watermelon are being sliced up.

Our chief organizer, Allison, stops for a breather…and some wine.

It wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without a little pigskin. OK so it’s made out of pagne, but its genius, right? Caitlyn is showing us exactly how it’s done.

I really can’t say what’s going on here. The only appropriate caption I can think of is: Is there such thing as too much fun on Turkey Day?

I hope everyone had an excellent Thanksgiving and ate an extra slice of turkey swimming in gravy in my name. I’m guessing Black Friday will be a bit different this year with floundering economic situation. Don’t worry, I’ll be back in two years and everything will go back to normal.

Gobble gobble (xoxoxo)

ps: As per requested, I put my phone number and where my post is on Facebook. In about a week I won't have cell service regularly, so letters/emails will be the better option. If you don't have facebook call Mama Delaney.

pps: In case some of you can't get enough of PC Cameroon, I put some other blogs on the left side of the page. At least check them out for the pictures. No but really, all of them are way more insightful and introspective than mine so enjoy!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Roosters and mice and ants, oh my!

I dedicating this blog addition to all creatures great and small, especially those of that are gracing Cameroon. Things just grow larger here: not only are there bees the size of my big toe, spiders, giant mosquitoes, but also the avocadoes, bananas, carb portions, and beer are supersized.

Last week, after doing my laundry, the two roosters in my compound decided that it was a good time to have a cock fight. The feathers on their necks stuck straight out and they circled each other with their heads close to the ground. Then one would strike the other with its beak and then try to jump on him. Repeat. It went on like this until I left for school (about 20 minutes). For some reason I thought a cock fight would be more exciting.

A month ago I was eating dinner with my family when a neighbor came in and pointed out that there were tons of ants coming out from underneath the trunk next to me. When I say tons, I mean millions; I’ve never seen this many ants in my life! They were carrying these little white balls, which turned out to be eggs. My little brothers started jumped into action and started sweeping the ants in a pile. They then added paper and lit the pile on Fire! I had escaped to the couch and watched as more and more ants were swept into the pile to burn. For a last touch, my mom came in with the kerosene to drown and burn the ants at the same time. I don’t think this should be tried at home; I don’t think Americans are skilled in the ways of burning ants. (If you want to know more about the dangers of ant burning, talk to my dad.)

A few days ago, I woke at about midnight to the pitter-patter of little feet racing around my bedroom floor. I know I really shouldn’t have been that nervous after my run ins with mice in my apartment last year (viva murray!), but I was in a cold sweat imagining the sort of giant rodent that could have emerged from the hole in the floor next to my trunk. Of course my mind jumped to the scene in The Princess Bride when they are escaping through the forest and those giant creatures start attacking them (were they called Rodent’s of Unusual Size?). I did manage fall back asleep after convincing myself that my mosquito net was an impenetrable shield.

So I haven’t been exposed to any real trauma, except that I woke up one day with a cockroach as long as my pinky finger sitting on my collar bone. RIP cockroach, you chose the wrong place to take a nap.

Since I don’t have any pictures of any animals, here’s one of me with my pange dress. Notice the 80s side ponytail matches the shoulders. Lovely, I know.

Until next time, my friends.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Drumroll please…and my post is

Yeah, you should probably keep holding your breath for exact details of where I will be spending my two years—PC doesn’t allow that info to be public. I will be in the Extreme North near Mokolo, a city on the western part of the province, near Nigeria. If that description doesn’t satisfy you, feel free to email/facebook/smoke signal me.

Last week I visited my post with my postmate Matt, an agro volunteer; we’re replacing a married couple. This has created some confusion about whether or not Matt and I are married, but hopefully us living in separate houses will remedy that. So this post is one of the few that is without electricity, cell service, and running water—let’s hear it for the old school PC experience! When I told my homestay family of the electricity and cell service situation they told me that I was going to suffer, I believe the exact words were “Que suffrage!” Now that’s a bit of an exaggeration, when I travel to Mokolo about once a week cell service, internet, faucets, and light switches will be plentiful. But otherwise, handcrank radios, head lamps, candles, and kerosene lamps will be my life.

The post is nestled in the mountains and is completely beautiful. As usual, my limited vocab isn’t doing it justice so here are some pics of a hike we took, but the only way you can truly appreciate is if you came to visit. (hint hint)

There are massive rocks here; I think this place got some volcanic action at some point. For a point of reference, Matt’s in the pic, so you can see how ginormous they are.

Nigeria in the distance, right over those hills.

The health volunteer I’m replacing did a ton of projects, especially with midwives and pre/post natal care. She also did extensive research on the village, which has a population of about 47,000 spread over a large area. My counterpart, the doctor at the health center, has an extension action plan for my first 3 months at post, starting with a meeting about 3 days after I get there. No easing in for me, this is a jump off the high board with my clothes on kind of deal.

Halloween Party
Totally off topic, the stagiers had a Halloween party just before we left for site visit.

From left to right we have a Fanta Girl, Caitlyn being me, Sarah Palin, 1/3 of Charlie’s Angels, Chiquita Banana, 2/3 of Charlie’s Angels, and a Hula Dancer. Very creative for not having a Party City I must say.

I, the last third of the Charlie’s Angles, crew and Caitlyn is me. Apparently I rock the side ponytail and swish around long skirts and dresses obliviously.

Barack Rocks it in Cameroon

For the past two weeks, we’ve been getting a lot of double fist pumps and Barack Obama calls everywhere we go. His picture is everywhere and many stores have changed their names to include our future president’s name somewhere. For example, Garoua now has a Barack Obama Coiffure. As one women excitedly told me with a lot of fist pump action, “Hy ya Hy ya Hy ya Barack Obama.”

He should come and visit.

New Address

So I’ve placed my new address in the info on the left side of the page so please check it out! Hopefully things will get to me a bit faster than they have been while I’ve been in stage. (It’s almost done and the only thing I’ve gotten is the conditioner I sent myself.) I promise to send long, dull letters to you—when I’m without electricity pen pals will be part of my daily dose of sanity. For those who want to send me a package I have some ideas below to help guide you. Warning: it’s really expensive so letters would be fabulous too. To make mailing easier it’s best to send in one of those package envelopes and to write my name as Soeur Cara Delaney (I guess being a nun makes you immune to pillagers). You should also put what's in the package. As in write: old books, rotten tennis shoes, and other things people won't be curious about.

The List:

Chocolate—it’s going to be a melty mess, but I’m ok with that.

Mixed CDs—with artist and song name somewhere so that I’ve not completely uncool when I come back (siblings your on this)

Granola/Chewy/Cereal Bars

Instant Oatmeal – preferably peaches & cream, strawberries & cream, cinnamon, and apple cinnamon

Small Cookie packets—so I can eat them in one go, because the ants are CRAZY here

AAA batteries—Cameroon batteries stink

Old DVDs—cause there are no promises that you’re going to see them again

Old Magazines—maybe some with dress/skirt design ideas so that I can make clothes (think conservative/chic)

Candy, funny clippings, etc

Sorry for writing a book. It’s been a while. Love!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

I finally got a package!

Last Saturday, we went to see a football game in Garura, the capital of the province. It was the best Cameroonian team against the best team from Zimbabwe in the playoffs for the Africa cup and we kicked butt of course! I would say that the stadium was 97% men and most of them were enjoying the saches of whiskey and billy-billy (grain alcohol) that were cheaply available throughout the whole game. There is no cutting people off after the 7th inning here. (p.s. updates on the World Series please!)

Action shot right before the third goal went in. The final score was 4-0 Cameroon.

Like the U.S. people like to wear paint and dance around like crazy people.

A few of us got our hair braided this weekend by our host families. Actually two of my friends came over Sunday with braided hair and my family didn’t want to be outdone, so Voila! My sister told me that if she went to school with her hair unbraided she would get it shaved off in front of everyone. Whew, that’s a bit intense for my taste.

Next week we finally find out where we will all be posted for the next two years! We will be traveling to our posts for a site visit the week after next.

I also finally got my conditioner yesterday. I sent it on September 12, so it took 42 days to get to me. If you wanted to send things to me (hint hint) I would send it in one of those padded envelopes and not a box because it will get here faster. Also, please wait until I get my post address so that the mail will be more direct. I haven’t put together package ideas (for people who are bored, have dispensable income, and/or want to make me extremely happy) but I assure you that the list will be coming soon.

Love to all!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Food, Mud, and Football (Oct 17)

I think I’ve come up with a short-term solution for my bad luck with internet. I will continue to pre-write blogs and if the internet chooses to be MIA that day, then I will save it to put up the next time. This means I might put up multiple blogs in one day. So if you are a person unconstrained by the concept of time, feel free to read the blogs in the order that you like. If you like things to go in an orderly fashion, please check the blog before you start reading—as a hint for this week, stop reading immediately because this is the second one I’m posting. Also, pictures are going to be second priority, so I’ll leave room for them with captions, but they might not go up with the blog.

Alright, so chores done now updates. Last Sunday, I went on a bike trip with 3 other girls. We had no real destination, only we really wanted to see some of the hills around us up close. Good thing Peace Corps gave us mountain bikes because we took them for a beating; we went through fields of cotton, mais, and swamps.

This is Brianna next to the table top mountain. Our next goal is to climb it and have a picnic on top.

Thea trekking it on the “bike path”.

After the road gave way Aubrey and her bike bit it. Don’t worry I did the same thing right behind her. My homestay family was horrified when I got back looking like a mud monster.

Later that day, I went to the market with my mom and two of my little brothers. My goal was to buy a pagne, and my mom wouldn’t hear of me bargaining by myself. The ‘Nasara’ price can be a bit steep and when you’re trying to bargain in cave-man French to native Fufulde speakers, things can get a bit messy. Let’s just say that Mama Bouba took the pagne market by storm and successfully got me a beautiful pagne that I will be sending to the tailors this weekend.

I promised I would talk about food, but I first must apologize for misspelling, it is mostly phonetic. Breakfast is cafĂ© au lait with tons of sugar, beniets (fried soy dough), and a peanut dish called Ham-Ham. (It’s not made of ham because Muslims cannot eat pork, but there’s other ingredients in it that I haven’t been able to identify yet. Sometimes we eat Bouyi, which has the consistency of watery cream of wheat. It’s made from peanuts, mais, and soy and it’s delicious! The other meals are made up of mostly cous-cous and different types of sauces made from peanuts, fish, beef, and different leafy vegetables.

As a weird, supposedly picky foreigner, most of the time I get served something different than what the family is eating. No matter how often I say I want to eat the cous-cous and sauce, I mostly get spaghetti and sardines. I think the girl before me was really picky. Gosh! Way to ruin it for me! Yeah, if I never saw another sardine in my life, I would be perfectly happy. Oh well.

Peanuts are found in abundance here and last week I found peanut butter in the market, sold in little plastic bags. When I saw them, peanut butter banana sandwiches started dancing in front of my eyes—also the great thing about living in constant heat is that you probably don’t have to heat the bread to melt the peanut butter into the bananas. Another awesome product here is Tartina, which is a more chocolaty Nutella. Yum!

My brother took this one of his mom cooking by the fire in the kitchen.

This is my youngest brother, Aminou, with the lunch of cous-cous and gumbo. Gumbo is made from okra—the consistency is kind of like snot, but it’s really good.

So as I look back on the amount time I just spent on food, it reminds me of what one of the Cameroonian trainers said to us a few weeks ago. He said that Americans always talk about food while Cameroonians talk about family. This is very true—I think I know more about people’s food cravings than about their families. Hmmmm….

I would love to get updates on people, but can't make any promises on getting back to you in the near future.

I Motion to reintroduce bucket baths to the U.S. (Oct 10)

Wow, sorry about that last post with the pictures everywhere. They just took so long to load that I ran out of internet time before I could fix it. I put captions on the pictures from last weeks post to help alleviate confusion. I also added some pictures that didn’t make it to the blog last week. So please reread. I didn’t really know what to expect with the internet so I come better prepared this week.

So I realized that I haven’t talked much about how training is going. It’s a little bit like having freshman orientation for 11 weeks; so parts are fun, some are extremely boring. Right now we are learning about sustainable development and how to do community assessments, which basically means we’re scratching the surface about these subjects. I guess it’s difficult to tailor a training too specifically because we will all be on our own in 2 months, at very different posts. The best parts of training so far have been talking with the guest PC Volunteers that come every week to give us a taste of what they’ve been doing for the two years. It’s also good to do this with 28 other trainees; we’re all in the same boat and trying to stay sane. We will be getting where we will be living for the next two years at the end of the month—yay, a Halloween present. (p.s. is it bad that I have to sing the H-A-double L-O-W-double E-N song every time I write that word?)

This is me, Brian, and Nadine, my language teacher. Go Novice-Mid class (yep I moved up a level)!

Yesterday, we visited the hospital in Pitoa; this hospital is at a level right below the hospitals in the provincial capital. The head doctor is the only doctor there and he has to budget his time between patients and administrative duties. As the laboratory technician told us, they don’t have a lot of equipment, but they do the best with what they have. It’s expensive for people to go to the hospital in general and traditional medications are used a lot — I’m definitely going to look into the traditional medicines while I’m here. A side note: we also met with the nurse who runs the family planning for the hospital and she told us that a month pack of birth control costs 100 CFA. This means that for a YEAR it would cost less than $4 to be supplied with birth control. It’s really interesting when you think about how many insurance companies cover Viagra (a drug that is given to fix a medical condition about 10% of the time) but not birth control. Hmmmm.

This is our health program with the head doctor following protocol.

If you ever find yourself needing surgery in Pitoa, here’s where it’s at.

To completely change the subject, I’m going to make a public service announcement: the amazingness that is a bucket bath should be tried by all. Definition: a person with a bucket of water and a bowl stands in a (preferably) roofless latrine and pours water over their head. The only way I can describe it is when you go to get your hair cut and the hairdresser washes your hair—yeah it’s kinda like that. It’s also one of the only times that I feel a bit chilled during the day and there’s something about being refreshed under the stars. Therefore, I recommend it to anyone dealing with stress.

These are some pictures of my homestay house. First the goats and chickens hopping around the yard. The rooster is always very confused, the sun is definitely not up at 2am when he randomly cockadoodledoos.

This is outside of the kitchen area. My bro, Mial, is doing some homework.

I think the Cameroonian cuisine will be the topic of the next post, but please comment or email me if you’re curious about anything else.

Tip of the day: If you want to become quick friends with a Cameroonian, just say to them J’aime Eto’o. (I love Eto’o). He’s the most famous football player in the country.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

The rediscovery of Internet

So I apologize from the get-go...I wrote out this blog on my computer hoping that it would transfer when I got to the internet cafe but it came out as gobbly-gook. This will probably not go as indepht.

I know everyone has been at the edge of their seats wondering what's going on in Cara's life, I'm here to relieve any pain it may have caused to wait 2 weeks. I will be breaking this down into chapters to help those with short attention spans. Ps: there are pics!

Chapter 1: Une fete!

Here are some of the pics that I promised from the party at the PC Director's house when we were still in Younde. For anyone travelling in this part of the world, please me aware that Malta, though made by Guiness, is not an alcoholic beverage but a very sweet tasting ginger soda. I was quite disappointed at the first mouthful.

Me and my Younde roommate Ali, before the dinner.

Fellow trainees looking stoic.

Chapter 2: By Train, by Bushtaxi

We then took a train to the North province where we will be spending 2 monthes training before we get sent off to our posts. It was a night train that took 17 hours. When it got too dark to see out of the window the scenery was tropical forests and when the sun came up again we were seeing a sparsely treed landscape. During our 4 hour bushtaxi drive to the provincial capital, Garoua, we got to see the majestic rolling hills and flat grasses of the North. This is the end of the rainy season so the green hills will only be this way until around February. One of the current PCV ominously told us that her thermometer turned black when it hit 140 F in the last April. This is a far cry from a Hamilton winter.]

I'm bothering Kauleen on the train.

This is a scene from our bushtaxi ride. Apparently this will be the most comfortable one we will go more space in real life I guess.

A group photo with the U.S. Ambassador to Cameroon with all the trainees and trainers.

Chapter 3: Home sweet home

When we arrived to our small towns outside of Garoua, we were immediately whisked away to our homestays. I was picked up by 2 of my brothers and was welcomed by their mom and 6 other siblings. My Cameroonian dad works for the cotton company and isn't home during the week. My siblings are the 3 oldest brothers Amadu (22), Assiss (18), and Kareem (17), my two sisters Salamatou (15), and Aminatou (13) and my 3 youngest brothers Siebou (12), Ismael (10), and Aminou (8). My family is so friendly and patient with me and my caveman French. Eventually I have to also learn Fufulde, which is their first language and the main language other than French in Northern Cameroon.

Last week was the end of Ramadan and my family, being Muslim, was fasting until then. This means no food or drink (including water) from 3am until 6pm. In this heat, this is no small feat. I'm currently trying to put up pictures that I took of my homestay family in their party finery but it isn't working. Grrrrrr slow, confusing internet! Ah well, ca va.

Here's me and some of my family finally!

I gave my little brothers balloons and bubbles for Ramadan presents. I have never seen kids so afraid of blowing up balloons in my life! Even my teenage brothers ran out of the room when I was do it.

Chapter 4: Freedom via bikes and motos

This is my moto helmet that I MUST wear. It was very exciting because yesterday we had bike training so I got a sweet bike and a helmet too. My host bros and sisters laughed when they saw me wearing it. I think it was only then that they realized that I am a dork. It was bound to happen sometime. On the taxi to internet a goat tried to eat my hair...extremely traumatic I know.

Chapter 4: Misc

I've forgotten most of what I wrote now, which is too bad. I hope everyone is doing well...I was listening to BBC news last night on my hand crank radio and it seems that the world thinks that America may be losing her super power status. I wonder what the American media spin has to say about the buy outs.

Next time, I will write out what I wanted to say using pen and paper.

A scene during a dash to shelter before a storm. I got soaked anyway.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Baby Step Beginning

We havent had reliable internet for the first few days here. We got to Cameroon extremely tired and we lost one luggage which is still wandering around lost. Im currently in a hotel in the capital trying to type on this odd french keyboard; I feel like Im my dad typing using my two pointer fingers cause the keys are all over the place. To explain the title of this blog: basically we havent been allowed anywhere outside the hotel or the Peace Corps house without being sheparded by PC staff or current volunteers. I guess we dont have the street smarts or the language at least on my part to be let loose. In the next couple of days we leave for the North province for training and a little more freedom but for now we can just look out of the hotel windows longingly.

Besides getting lots of shots weve had our first health and safety trainings. Yesterday we also had our French language tests to see what level classes we will be in during training. Lets just say that I tried my best but kept speaking in a strange french/spanish/english dialect. After about 10 ,inutes of struggle the language instructor started speaking to me in Spanish; he apparently has no one to practice with and was excited to find another speaker. At least it ended well.

Im getting my cell phone today I hope and apparently it costs about 25 cents to send text messages to the US. For the number check facebook or I will contact the non facebook users. Im really excited for our trip up north. Ive been told thats its like a different country very hot and dry. So far its been cool and humid in Younde; its the end of the rainy season so the sun hasnt come out that much either.

Sorry for the bad punctuation and no photos. I took some during our formal dinner at the country directors house. Ill get those up ASAP so you can see some of the other trainees.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

End of Staging

My final night in the Philly has arrived and I find myself sitting on this extremely comfortable bed overlooking the city. I should have an allegiance to HGI, but these Hampton Inn beds are exceptionally fabulous; try them if you get a chance.

The last two days have been completely unreal. I've been in all day workshops with the 30 people that will be my home away from home family. It's kinda like freshman orientation kicked into high gear. Meeting the people in my training group has made me even more excited for the adventure to come.

Tomorrow we fly out from JFK to Brussels and than into Doula, Cameroon. Although some people have expressed a bit of anxiety over the lengthy travel time (we basically lose a day), all I can say is I think I've seen the worst of air travel. I doubt I will be chillin in my same clothes for 3 days or spending a 15 hour plane ride without an entertainment system or lights. (Fam Vacation P/HK 2007) Also, no need to carryon 50 extra lbs. We're allowed to bring two 50 lb bags. Hallelujah!

I decided that instead of leaving a fare-thee-well paragraph of tearful, snotty, red-eyed goodbyes, I will give you a few videos. My amazing friend Marge M. gave me the link for the first one; it's about a neuroanatomist who shares her experience with having a stroke.

I watched this one twice before I left. I felt like it spoke to me in a kinda geeky, spiritual sort of way.

The next two are from the same conference as the former video and the first one is hilarious. Have fun!

I will miss you all! Besos

Monday, September 15, 2008

Philadelphia Here I Come

I'm writing this from my dining room table, enjoying my last night at home. I'm all packed, but afraid to weigh my luggage. Last time I weighed it, it was 10 lbs over...I've let it sit for a few days so maybe some of the weight just went away. It was much more difficult to pack for Cameroon than for college. Unlike my freshman year of college, you can't drive an SUV stuffed to the brim with random things and ask mom to send another huge box of forgotten items to the Peace Corps. A question that is probably brimming in your mind is so how much can you bring for your two year move? The answer: 80 lbs. Let's just say my sister, Kyle, looked at the amount of clothes I was bringing and almost fainted. If you're curious here's a list of things I'm bringing, if you're not please do scroll to the next paragraph.

Packing List

3 Cotton button up shirts
4 Tank tops
4 light-cotton t-shirts
1 Black Yoga Pant
1 light fleece
1 Capri
2 long cotton dresses
4 long skirts
2 pairs of workout shorts
1 raincoat
1 Kahki pant
1 pair of jeans
15 underwears
4 pairs of socks
2 boxer sleep shorts
1 light jacket
1 bathing suit
2 paschmina scarves
Sox baseball cap
bike gloves

Ecco Offroad sandals
Black flats
nice sandals

Mini Toothpaste
2 visine
5 deodorant
hand mirror
face wash/lotion
Cheap razors
Fingernail clipper/nail file
2 pairs of tweezers
5 mini hand sanitizer bottles
3 month supply of prescription drugs
1 contact case
1 bottle of contact solution
2 boxes of contacts
2 pairs of eyeglasses
1 pair of prescription sunglasses
Eyeglass strap
Glasses repair kit
Haircutting scissors
Hair ties/hair bands
Small amount of makeup
2 washclothes
Super absorbant towel
Travel size shampoo/conditioner/ body wash
Large conditioner (2)

can opener
potato peeler
measuring cups and spoons
2 nalgene bottles (0.5 and 1 liter)
plastic storage containers
ziploc bags
1 kitchen knife and sharpener
medium size non-stick pan
Crystal Light packets

Gateway Laptop
Digital Camera w/ extra memory card and battery
Ipod Nano and speakers
2 sets of headphones
1 4 GB USB magic stick
Solar powered watch
Travel Alarm clock
LED head lamp
Handcrank LED lantern
Swiss Army Knife
French Correction software
Handcrank Flashlight
Adaptor/Convertor set
Battery charger/rechargable batteries/regular batteries
Solio Solar Charger

American stamps
2 journals
Address Book
Non-dry pens
pencils w/ sharpener
Colored pencils
2 rolls of duct tape
2 combo locks/Luggage locks
Light bed sheets
Human Phys Book
Deck of cards
Games: Uno and Set
Bike lock
Sewing Kit
Peace Corps Paperwork
12 passport size photos
money belt
Copy of Visa & Passport
Yoga Mat

Little Gifts
Bubbles (actually these are for my own entertainment)
Nail polish
mini lotion

1 LL Bean Rolling Duffle
1 Jansport Hiking Backpack
1 carry on bag
Small backpack/purse

Actually the 2 Costco sized conditioner bottles are on their way to Cameroon already...they weighed 8 lbs together, which is kind of embarrassing. My love for Garnier conditioner and silky smooth hair very quickly overcame any shame in receiving more hair product than probably all the other trainees put together. I put a picture of my packed luggage...I'm still debating about bringing the yoga mat.

My luggage and carry on

Tomorrow I'm leaving for Philly with my mama for a two day predeparture training. It doesn't actually start until Wednesday afternoon, but I'll have a day to hang with my mom and I'm also meeting my bro for dinner tomorrow. To put it lightly, this should be an interesting few days.