Made a beaver friend just chillin at the seawall
A very strong or irresistable impulse to travel.
Made a beaver friend just chillin at the seawall
Officially employed! Got a little reading to do, but i start Monday at 8!
Skyline of Istanbul at sunset
I know I owe you all an update on my life, well let me start by saying I am loving it. Its really hard to really explain everything that’s going on, but I am gonna try my best to give you the highlights lately. School has started, and I have an incredibly posh corps set up. I am only teaching upper sixth currently, which is the equivalent of seniors in highschool. My class size is still fluctuating greatly, so I don’t really know what it is supposed to be. It started with two kids, then last week it was six, now today three more showed up, but either way 9 kids is great. Some of my friends are teaching classes of 100-150. And the kids I have are fantastic, they are so excited to learn, last week they wrote their first programs, and it was just a simple input output statement that displayed a line of text, but they were so proud, they even stayed into their lunch breaks to keep tweaking it, and after they left the Head of my department came to me and said she just ran into them and they were telling her how excited they were that they just wrote their first programs. When she came and told me that it was really one of the proudest moments I’ve ever experienced. A couple of weekends ago we went on the hike into the rainforest to see the elephant graveyard. It was really exciting and beautiful but it was damn tiring. We were originally under the idea that it was about 6 to 7 hours, but it ended up being about a 9 hour hike round trip. We had to hike through what could only loosely be defined as a trail in the best of sections, climbing up and down river beds, hopping over fallen trees and climbing through all kinds of brush, and wading through quite a few creeks and rivers. It really was a beautiful environment though, and you know being a rain forest and all, it did rain for the morning stretch, but nothing too bad. We didn’t really see much live wildlife, some birds and frogs, the coolest things we saw were a forest viper and a green jameson mamba, both of which are incredibly poisonous snakes. We finally got out to the graveyard around lunch time, and it was really cool to see, although it was really hard to capture in pictures. It’s a spot where these hunters killed two forest elephants, then butchered them and smoked the meat to sell. Now it is just a clearing with bones spread out all over the place. It was really amazing to see how big the bones were though, one piece of the leg bone was about up to my waist, and the skull was almost as high. On the way back we were all exhausted, and the only highlight I can think of from it is when we walked across this like river of ants and we got attacked by them, I must have gotten bit at least twenty times before I got them all off me. By the time we got home we all just crashed, and the next day it rained for the entire day, so we weren’t able to leave and just vegged around, which was nice. Thankfully that storm did not come a day earlier. This last weekend I went into Bamenda, which is the closest real city to me. Its about a 3 hour car ride, crammed into a van with 18 other people. You get there though, and it was a great time. Now bamenda was probably only about 70-75 degrees at all times, but we were freezing. That was so cold for me I think it even got me sick. I was wearing a fleece or a flannel shirt at all times. That just goes to show you how hot and humid it is in Mamfe that I have gotten used to. I am not going to be able to handle winters any more when I get back. But Bamenda was great, they have real restaurants with Americanized foods. First night we ate pizza, then throughout the weekend I had pasta salad, chicken sandwiches, French fries, more pizza, and great coffee. They also have some “white man stores” which is what they call grocery stores, where I was able to stock up on some other essentials. I got oregano, ketchup, mustard, things like that. They really have almost everything you could want there if you look hard enough. Saturday we went to the frip and the market, the frip is like the second hand clothing market, where you can find some really random things. I bought a new shirt and a pair of vans, then we went and explored the market, which was huge. It had to have been a couple of city blocks big, full of booths and people selling anything you can imagine. It was almost overwhelming. You could easily spend a day in there and still not see everything there is to offer. I also get real internet in Bamenda, so I was able to skype with some of you which was great. Umm so I can’t really think of all that much else, as cool as Africa is , my lifes become very monotonous here. Ive read quite a few books and watched a decent amount of the movies I’ve brought. Most days I just go to school, then the market, then come home and make dinner and hang out and read. Ive also been exploring my town a lot, and I love talking and getting to know the people. It takes a decent amount of energy to always have to put yourself out there and go to a bar or something by yourself, but I am almost always pleasantly surprised when I do and meet someone new. Everyone is great around here. Ive had some great conversations with locals about America and stuff. On the weekends I get together with the other people in my cluster which is fun, and we just hang out mostly. The next big thing I have coming up is at the end of the month I will be travelling down to Kumba for our regional meeting, which happens to fall right around Halloween, so there will be a Halloween party. I need costume ideas. The theme is legendary. So making my costume is my goal for the next month. Ok that’s about it for now. I miss you all!
Some views from around my village
well, i survived my move to post. it was actually a fairly uneventful trip, some good food in bamenda, my first cup of real coffee in months, and a lot of time spent in a very cramped car. the travelling went as good as can be hoped, i really had no idea what i was doing, but everything fell into place thanks to some great staff and community hosts. They shipped us all to Bamenda, then we were supposed to find our own way from there. Since we arent really allowed to leave our posts for the next three months, i decided to take advantage of my time there and stayed an extra night. Me and some other newly sworn in volunteers tried some of the better restaurants that were recommended to us, and we ate great. Im still missing the chicken salad sandwich we had at this one place. We also went to some whiteman stores, but i didnt really buy anything cause i already had so much stuff to get to post and no idea how i was going to do it. The next morning as i am still half asleep on the couch, Peter, the head of the Bamenda office comes in for a second and says hes on his way to Baffousam, which is actually in the wrong direction, but after asking for help, he brings me by the Mamfe car park, saving me the hassle of having to buy out a taxi and drag all my stuff there myself, because taxis here kinda work like buses, they go around and pick up people until all the seats are full and drop people off on the way, but if you are taking up more than one seat, you are paying for more than one seat. So i get to the car park, get my ticket, and we get on our way, with me in the most uncomfortable seat I have probably ever been in. I swear my right buttcheek never touched the seat. But thankfully this driver was flying, and we made fantastic time. About twenty minutes outside Mamfe, jimmy, my community host called me, to see where i was. i told him, and he said hed meet me at the car park when i got there to give me a hand. When i got there he got us a car to help bring my stuff from the park to my house, which was another step that i had no idea how i was going to handle. Finally, I am home.
So i spent most of the rest of that day unpacking and cleaning, and took my first shower in three months. granted it was cold water, but it felt great because it is really hot here in mamfe and i worked up a sweat unpacking. then that night my site mates had a welcoming dinner, with mexican food. It was glorious. I can without a doubt say probably the best meal I have had in three months. Side note, that pre packaged chicken thats by the tuna fish in the super market ships great. then i went home and spent my first night in my new house, right before the power went out. welcome home. next day we met up again and made the leftovers from dinner into breakfast with eggs and it was almost as good as the night before. Renee my site mate brought me around Mamfe, introducing me to tons of people and showing me tons of places, maybe a quarter of which i will remember, but i have two years. Next day i just did my laundry and cooked some food, and I have been doing alot of reading. I also met with my principal, who seems awesome, and already had me fix the printer in his office, although i have no idea when i am supposed to start or what i am supposed to teach. but that will come. i will probably stop by the school again tomorrow or monday.
this morning Renee brought me along with her out into the bush for a farmers co op meeting, where they were talking about maintaining their fair trade certification. It was really cool to see and i got to meet a tribal chief.
so my house is just about set up, although sparcely furnished, but i have two years to fill it. ive hung up some pictures to make it feel more homely. its rained every day that i have been here at least two to three times a day, but i guess thats why it is a rain forest. my road is the muddiest mess i have ever seen, i cant walk down it without getting mud on my pants, and one time i stepped in what i thought was a dry spot but turned out to be a six inch deep puddle of mud, so that was fun. But in spite of all the rain, mamfe is absolutely gorgeous. it is this little city stuck in the middle of this gorgeous rain forest in every direction. One day we went for a walk by the river, and there is this really old suspension bridge that was built by the germans, i think before the world wars. it is like old school indiana jones movie style, with the ropes across the huge river and the creaking boards connecting it, and it slants to one side. So of course i crossed it, and its really kind of terrifying, especially cause it was raining and made it really slippery. people use it every day though so its not actually life threatening. Other than that i have just been enjoying having the opportunity to relax for a while, finally free from training. I miss you all back home, as well as all of cameroons newest PCVs, but I am finally starting real life here!
oh also, i have my new address, so you can send me things!
Joseph Meuser, PCV
Mamfe, Cameroun, Africa
I also updated my contact page at the top here for more permanent access, and with all other relavent info.
so classes are finally winding down, one more in the morning, thursday is our swearing in followed by a big party, then I will spend this weekend travelling to post! I still cant decide if training crawled by or flew by, but its finally ending, and it feels good. I really should be packing right now, but it seems even more overwhelming than when i came here. I couldve sworn everything fit into my bags when i came here but now it seems like theres stuff everywhere and i need to get it halfway across the country pretty much by myself. It will surely be an adventure. I am definitely going to miss all my other trainees though and all the good times we had in bafia, even with as much as we bitched about it as it was going on. Time to start my real life though. hopefully i will have a bunch of new stories soon.
its strange to think that anything as crazy and amazing as being in africa can become routine, but it seems that its possible. As stage is winding to an end, it seems that real life is finally going to start in Africa. now, summer camp has been a blast, but i am looking forward to getting started on my own life. for my first couple weeks before classes start i am looking forward to just being able to sleep when i want, eat what i want, and go where i want, but there will also be plenty to get done. i cant wait to make my house into my home, meet all my neighbors, and dive head first into my school. model school has given me a taste, but I am much more excited for the real thing. just playing teacher wasnt really all that motivating to be honest, so im excited to have a real class.
so whats been going on here? model school occupies most of the ED volunteers time, with tech trainings in the afternoons. classes finished friday, and we are spending most of this week doing report cards and learning how to fill in all kinds of unneccisary forms. we had our cultural presentations last week, which is just a 20 minute presentation in french on a cameroonian topic of our choice. lets just say it feels much better to have it over with, and i passed. pidgin class has been going well, its actually much easier to learn than french, and its very similar to english.
yesterday we had diversity day, where our cameroonian teachers shared their culture with us, with food and dance, and we did as well. there was some awesome traditional dance and drumming, which i dont think i will ever get sick of, and some interesting food. from the american side, we had some people sing, someone made a pinata, and there was delicious peanut butter and jelly. it was actually a lot more fun than i thought it would be. then after that i came home and made my family an american meal. chicken chili. and it was good. it really is harder to cook anything here though. for the beans and the rice i had to sort out rocks and twigs and wash them multiple times, and all this was being cooked over a fire on the back porch, which had a vengence for smoking me out whenever i tried to check on the pot.
now normally they have a gas stove with a propane tank they cook on, but for the last month and a half there has been a terrible gas shortage in cameroon. like, there is none. we have been waiting to get some for that whole time, but theres none to be found all the way to the capital. thankfully the stove at my post already has a full tank with it, but thats not for another ten days. for the last month ive gotten only bread and butter for breakfast because its too early to get the fire stoked up and food made for me, so the cliff bars i got when moms package finally arrived have already been put to good use.
well thats it for now, i have some pictures im going to try to upload after this post, i love and miss you all!
hey everyone, I am alive and well, just exhausted from all the work we have had to do lately. After site visit, model school started, so we are now teaching two classes a day, taking two languages and taking tech sessions all afternoon as well. Then at night we need to do our lesson planning, as well as we have a big cross cultural presentation due at the end of the week, and the finals for my two classes due at the same time, as well as we are supposed to be culturally integrating ourselves into the community, when in reality i am so burnt out i just go home and read before bed every night. The end is approaching though, and everyone is getting very excited to get to post. My model school class has definitely been giving me a hard time, but its mellowed out a lot and i think i am starting to get the hang of it. On the first day with my form 5 class, as I was writing my name on the board, two kids got into a fist fight in the back. Not the best way to start a class. It was a boy who is the head of class fighting a girl no less. so i threw them out and they didnt come back. Next day i sent a kid to get a pass, then i turn around and he climbs in the window without one, so i sent him out as well. Then wednesday, the kid who got into a fight came late, so i sent him for a pass, and i see him leaving, so i send the discipline master after him, and he runs off into the corn field and doesnt come back to class for a week, until he showed up today. Once he was gone though the class behaved much better so i didnt mind. now, i need to get back to my research project. i miss everyone, and feel free to email me! firstname.lastname@example.org. id love to hear from people.