Saturday, January 17, 2009

Just a quick update on my internet/communication status. I'll probably be getting internet about once a month therefore I apologize for the long wait between blog posts and pictures. The connection wasn't good on New Year's so I couldn't put up the pictures that I wanted to; I just realized that none of the pictures that I saved on my flashdrive are there anymore. Sorry, I guess you guys will have to wait another month for fun Xmass and pictures of my house. Also, my computer died over Christmas, but as of today has come back to life for the 5th time, but I only have basic tools like notebook. As long as I can find a movie player I will be satisfied. Seriously this computer, 5 years old and on its 4th hardrive has had a hard life and I'm surprised it has weathered Cameroon so far.

Enough of the boring computer talk. I've now been at post for over a month and a half and am still in the transition stage between training and being a real volunteer. This means I spend a lot of time trying to figure out my role in the community, community needs, and where I can buy vegetables because my village only has onions on market day. I realized last week that I would be living on starches, tomato sauce, and onions unitl I went to the capital, and probably would have if some other volunteers didn't come to visit bearing carrots, tomatoes, eggs, and bread. (They also ate all of my chocolate/starbursts/lifesavers so (hinthint) I might need some refills. (Thanks so much for all the letters and packages. Responses are either in the mail now or will be when they arrive). It might sound a bit dramatic, but basically I have to do a bit of preplanning when it comes to veggie/egg shopping in Mokolo, the city an hour away from my post. I'm trying to imagine going to a supermarket in the U.S. for the first time and the outcome of this trip can only be imagined in two ways: I immediately remove myself from the store being incredibly overwhelmed my the vast array of color and products or I faint dead away. Don't worry, I invite everyone to that spectacle in two years.

Aside from the small food issue, my post is amazing! I moved into my new house two weeks ago and am currently adjusting to living alone. It's very odd after growing up Delaney style and then never having less than 2 other roommates, but I'm learning to enjoy it. Since the pictures won't be going up any time soon, I'll just try to describe the house to the best of my abilities. It has 3 rooms: a living room with two trunks and a bookshelf (desk, chair, mat, and table will be there sometime in the first 6 months), a kitchen with some herbs that I just planted in calabashes so hopefully I'll get some mint and cilantro soon, and then my bedroom with my bed, mosquito netting, and hanging rods to hang clothes on. The make-shift closet was completely designed by little original me, shows off the Legasto creativity. My concession is kind of a disaster with a crumbling pile of mud bricks in one corner, a pile of old tires in another, and a small mountain of dirt in the middle, but I see potential.

As far as work goes, I held a meeting with village leaders with my postmate to go over general problems in the community and then I did the same thing with the community health 'board' specifically for health. The two most consistant problems were problems with getting drinkable water because there are not enough wells and during the dry season these wells dry up and women have to walk for kilometers to get water and then the distance to the health center from the villages up in the mountains. The first 3 months will be spent doing analysis much like this. I also did a presentation during pre-natal consultations at the health center on Family Planning. It was hilarious to see grown women get giggly and embarrassed when I pulled out a wooden phallus from my bag and did a condom demo.

I also went to a Health Club meeting at the highschool and it reminded me of a scene from the Little Rascals. The instructor was a nurse from the health center and had no control over the class. Every time he would turn around to write something on the board, 5 students would sneak out the back door and crouch below the windows as they sprinted past to escape.

I promise to post pics!!!! Miss you all. Muah!

And her they are finally!

Welcome to my latrine. The SED volunteer from Mokolo came up to visit Tourou, she helps out with the financial aspect of some of the community groups i work with at post, and nature called. I pointed her to my latrine and off she went. After a few minutes she was back in the house wondering 'where exactly was this latrine?' Yep so look closely and you will see the pot top that is my latrine cover, apparently this type of cover was entirely new for her and thus she was extremely confused.

This is my beautiful kitchen. I'm attempting to growth some herbs (mint, cilantro, basil, rosemary) but my green thumb has proved to be pretty black. So far only on cilantro sprout and 2 basil sprouts have survived my infrequent watering.

This is the back of my house. On the left side is my well and the clay pot next to my back door is where my water is held. It stays pretty cool in there, almost like fridge!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Oh Christmas Tree! Oh Christmas Tree!

I’ll start off with a picture of the Christmas tree that some agro volunteers made by ripping down branches from trees at the peace corps transit house in Maroua.

Beautiful right? Alright so it’s a little mangy but it did make it feel little like Christmas opening Secret Santa presents under the tree the next morning. I got 3 carved wooden masks for decoration for my new house. I still haven’t moved into my house yet, but hopefully this weekend is the big move in day since my bed just got finished a few days ago. This means that I have a bookshelf and a bed! After I get a bit more settled I’ll take pics of my house, no worries.

Picture of another volunteer’s puppy in a helmet. He’s been fed baby food out of a coke bottle with a nipple on it, cute right?

I’ve been at my post for about 3 weeks now and there’s nothing really to report. I’ve spent these weeks helping my postmate clean his house, playing with neighborhood kids, learning how to cook/trying out bean and tomato sauce recipes, hanging out with the nurses and doctor at the health clinic, and making plans for when the real work starts in January.

Here’s the car we put all of our stuff on. We sat with the driver in the car and then about 30 huge bags of rice and 3 guys got on the back with our luggage. One thing that I have learned is that I should learning Hide (Hiday) quickly in order to be able to communicate with any children or women and most men. So far gesturing and broken French has worked, but I would really like to learn enough to be able to have a basic conversation by the end of the first year. We’ll see you that works, Hide is really difficult; it’s been in one ear out the other when people teach me phrases.