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.