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I called to ask him to come visit me but he'd made plans to visit his sister who lives along the road to Douala tonight. He's working through his family one by one. He said that he wants to get off to a good solid start and that he knows that he needs to prepare his proposal. Ah, I said, well that was my sister's message for you. I could sense his smile through the phone. Now I'm on the edge of my seat, very curious to see how he goes about it and eager to see him again soon.
I'm no longer sure where this day went. I may have traveled to YaoundÃƒÆ'Ã‚Â© and spent the Sunday afternoon with Roger. Or did I spend the whole day at home packing for three weeks away from home (two weeks in Mfou and then a week in YaoundÃƒÆ'Ã‚Â©)? Needless to say preparing for the time away, traveling to YaoundÃƒÆ'Ã‚Â© and dropping things off at the caz and getting some laundry done was much on my mind. But I skipped the day and I now longer remember my exact movements. Maybe it rained? Maybe I had to wait long for the bus?
I've come to CRATAD in Mfou, (an agricultural development centre that Magloire is now managing) to work for the next 2 weeks. They'll be turning off the generator soon, in-fact we've kept it running late tonight. It's almost mid-night. There's a lot of things happening here all at once. A rumor from town informed Magloire that some employees are planning a strike. No official demands. They want contracts which are being drafted. The politics are interesting. I'll have plenty of interesting work to do here.
This would be a great site for a wedding. It's beautifully landscaped, has good facilities.
I slept solid on the thin but new mattress.
Magloire is called Rene by everyone except the folks from Akonolinga. After the weekly staff meeting he was called to YaoundÃƒÆ'Ã‚Â© to meet with his big boss. When he returned we worked through the instructions he was given.
With Bird Flu in Cameroon, the YaoundÃƒÆ'Ã‚Â© management panicked and decided that to get rid of the 3000 chickens at CRATAD ASAP they should be sold at 1000cfa instead of 3500cfa. People bought hundreds making 100% profit reselling them at market. Magloire will eventually be responsible for the loss to the bottom line.
I went to YaoundÃƒÆ'Ã‚Â© (15k trip) this morning and arrived as Christiane was being sent away. David rescheduled her informational interview from 8:30 to 10:30 because of a computer lesson. We hung out. I delivered some papers, briefly read my e-mail, showered and returned to Mfou.
Magloire was busy implementing the things we'd worked on yesterday. I tasted spicy ginger juice and fresh pineapple juice. (They make and bottle natural fruit juice here.)
Eventually we walked into town with Levey, Alene, the admin guy (another Bienvenu) and his girlfriend.
Barcelona won 2-0.
The lights will be out soon.
I actually got work done this morning. I sat down with Magloire and also made small advances with a few of the staff. It takes them a week to produce what used to be expected of me to produce in a day. But there are veiled intentions all around and it takes time to master it all. Every memo he plans to write he ends up wording weaker than I thought he'd intended - but given the politics it may be wise.
Anna wasted tons of my credit by saying that she's coming out to visit and then never actually coming.
There's no fresh milk here. I buy milk-powder for my coffee and now that I have a refrigerator I get a bottle of UHT milk when I'm in YaoundÃƒÆ'Ã‚Â©. Milk-powder is expensive and most people don't buy it. When they do they consume it very quickly. The subject keeps coming up - staff reproach their employers for milk. It's one of the farm staff's requests to clean out their systems dirty from the fumes. It's also a request Roger's co-workers made since they work with machines. The reasons don't make sense but it's clear that young working men need strong bones.
The sun has risen quite a bit while I was down visiting the farm. I walked down with Magloire, and toured a bit with henri. I was in flip flops which got rather muddy.
There's a little bird with a metallic green collar and velvet red belly that I want to photograph.
It's Saturday morning and the whole staff is here waiting for a meeting with the big boss... He arrived around 2pm only intending to meet with the group planning to strike. They'd written him 2 weeks ago, grew impatient and notified certain authorities. He rapidly fired them all.
I came into YaoundÃƒÆ'Ã‚Â© yesterday afternoon after the big staff meeting at CRATAD. I met Roger at JC's house (both of them were late) I'd brought them an odd fruit that looks like a thick fine but has sweet seeds inside. We went to Bastos for a beer before Roger and I went on to a fashion show in a hotel conference room. Sandrine was one of the models. She did a good job. The setting wasn't very impressive but some of the designs were. We ran into Kris Bad.
Slow Sunday, Roger worked all day, JC's cousins ... late-Anastasia-stress.
I meant to travel early back to Mfou but I lingered on the internet looking up immigration forms and talking with James my new APCD. He'd called me last week to ask when my COS date is, so there's a possibility of changing it either backwards for forward. There are advantages to both. The medical office put me in the last week of August. We talked about next week's SED Project Plan review workshop.
I was back in Mfou by early afternoon.
I've been negligent, I don't even know the date anymore. I worked some with Germaine on proposals to open the restaurant. (We're isolated up here on a hill and spend most of the days hungry.) The staff could use a cheap canteen and the town could use a good restaurant.
The day dragged on sitting around the office but I still gained insights on the functioning by being present.
The water pump still hasn't been fixed.
The fired farm boys tried to start a fight this morning.
Sarah called from London.
We walked into town and ate fish, drank beers.
Ernestine had come from the bar we hang out at in town to visit CRATAD. I gave her a tour of the grounds. Before she could get a moto back into town it started to rain rather hard. We were waiting it out in the office. BOOM the lights went out, flames jutted out of a computer monitor... lightening had struck very close. My ears rang for an hour.
I starting drafting a general report.
Germaine cooked us chicken.
Roger met Magloire, Beivenu and I chez Ernestine in town in the evening. We had a lot to catch up on.
I went into YaoundÃƒÆ'Ã‚Â© to go to the bank before meeting Mr. Nnoma to pay my rent. He picked me up at the bank and offered me a drink with his friends that he'd left at the bar. It ends up one of them lives in Mfou and recognized me from there. We traveled back together. I got out of the car Chez Ernestine as Magloire and Bienvenu were walking up the road. Sleepy evening.
Roger came out to visit again. We talked a bit about visas. I outlined all the options - probably too many choices. That's all for today.
There was a heavy fog this morning before the sun popped out extra strong. After Roger left I cooked some eggs and Magloire cut the pineapple Roger's mom gave me last week.
The group of men are working on the water pump. Or are they just drinking palm wine?
I need to continue working on my report. I have a bucket of bathwater warming in the sun.
As a side job, Roger is installing operating systems on a container full of computers that a school received. With the extra cash he can prepare my surprise.
I'm bursting with curiosity &anticipation.
Magloire's boss came to visit this morning with some friends as he often does on Saturdays. He said several times that he wished the kitchen was operational, boy was he hungry. So we (Alene) cooked him a chicken. After they left, Michel brought out a bottle of one of his alcohols and we ate our own meal. I traveled into YaoundÃƒÆ'Ã‚Â© with Magloire and Alene.
Two weeks have already passed!
Roger came and met me late at Tropical where I was dinking with some other PCVs. We got caught at another bar by the rain. Eventually went home under drizzle.
Roger set off to work on the container of computers making no promise to see me later. Says knowing I'm waiting for him is stressfull. I called Serge to see if he had some phones for sale and he told me to come meet him. Pierre-eve was also in town from Douala. Interesting conversations about corruption, arrests of government officials and the advantages (or disadvantages) of development. Eventually we went to get some grilled fish. JC came out and met up with us. I found it hard to keep my eyes open at the end of the night.
PeaceCorps Chad was evacuated due to the political problems - or should I say war? (Rebels headed to the capital to overthrow the government.) Anyway the PCVs from Chad were evacuated by boat to northern Cameroon and are now in YaoundÃƒÆ'Ã‚Â©. Their chartered flight didn't come in yesterday because there wasn't any fuel. A group of us headed over to the Mt Febe hotel to welcome them but they were eating dinner and worn out.
Went with Gaby and Jon (& met JC) for a beer. JC and I ran into Anastasia who's pissed off that I insulted her last week.
1st day of the SED Project Plan workshop. James and David facilitated a group of twenty of us including some volunteers, counterparts, community members who've worked with SED volunteers, senior bankers and a representative from Plan as a possible new NGO. In groups we worked through and summarized results of the evaluation study that was done throughout the country. I'm beat. 2 days of PCVs, overload of Americans.
I've called Christiane to come meet me. Then I plan to watch the Barcelona football match with Roger and Serge at JC's house. Eto'o, Cameroon's star player is on the Barcelona team.
I get very engaged in this type of workshop. I asked David today for a larger role in the training of the new volunteers this summer, especially since I'm involved in all the steps preparing for them. A handful of us will meet to write the SED five year plan. Then during the 10 day training design workshop we'll adjust the content of training to fit the new 5 year plan.
I've been trying to schedule my work through the end of my service, with all this PC work and consulting in Mfou, time in Akonolinga will be rather sparse.
I went from Roger's house directly to Mfou this morning. It'd felt like I'd left too many lose ends there. Magloire corrected my French and we finalized the part of my report that I've already written for his boss. I think I've convinced him to write a 3 month schedule and budget. I'll come back next week to explain it to the department heads.
Back in YaoundÃƒÆ'Ã‚Â© I met up with Bienvenu (& entourage of brothers). He said after conversations with many people that he's figured out what he wants. It's like a load has been lifted from him. He'sRelaxed.
The sky is a cool muted slate gray. I don't know what direction it's headed in but as they say here Ãƒâ€šÃ¢â‚¬Ëœit's raining somewhere'. I'm calm today and very happy. The good mood just creped up on me and seized me. My work &project schedule for the next few months is coming together. I decided not to rush home today. I really want to get back to Akonolinga and be home but i didn't want to put up with the harried travel. I'll cook dinner here at the caz, watch movies, type words. The month has gotten ahead of me.
I traveled back to Akonolinga this morning. It's obviously rained a lot in the past weeks, the weeds are out of control and my chives have bushed up again. The floors need to be washed, the water isn't running.
Chantel came by to visit. Someone had sent her a message that they were "back in town"and she assumed it was me so she rushed over. She looked in form but was embarrassed that it hadn't been me who'd sent the message. She'll come back to work on Monday with the baby in tow. I look forward to seeing the baby.
I've figured out most of my schedule for the next two months and that has also calmed me. I'll be away from Akonolinga for the majority of the time which makes it important how I spend my time here while I'm home. Of course what I want is calm time at home and what I need to (or should) do is be out in the town visiting people and doing the rounds. Hard to balance it out.
I visited Solange and Bellva yesterday. I hadn't seen them in ages. Bellva keeps growing.
I visited Juliet briefly today.
Drink with Aloys.
I went to work at SAIMED this morning and participated in the Monday staff meeting. I played my old role of lightly challenging Bienvenu and defending the staff. He has bad, macho, management techniques that he's modeled off of MiFed. But he's back, he's engaged. I'll work with him on Saturday. Late in the day I traveled to Mfou. Met Magloire and his new Bienvenu at Ernistine's bar. They ordered fish before I left Akonolinga and we ate over an hour after my arrival. We stayed out late, fought with the fish mama and bought her beer. A good evening.
The work I'd come back to Mfou to do (a training session on scheduling and budgets) was overshadowed by the staff problems. Nonetheless I presented the new system to Germaine (who runs the hotel & kitchen) and Mde Nko (in charge of the farm & agriculture). Then I sat in on the meeting with the head administrator from YaoundÃƒÆ'Ã‚Â© and the inspector from the labor department and then an entire staff meeting regarding their rights and more specifically negotiations with the recently fired staff. It looks like they'll be paid for their seniority, even though it was under previous ownership.
With all the bad luck (theft, fired staff, lightening) CRATAD staff asked to do vespers each morning. I woke in time yesterday but was late this morning.
I'm happy to be back home. I got in just as the "Bssa--milano game was starting so I went over to Le Notre's to watch the game (his wife greeted me and then I finally placed the woman who'd traveled back in the same bus who I couldn't place.). Their TV's small but with Cannel + the image is clear, the commentary decent. Mr Nnoma showed up drunk, wanting more drinks. Sorcery son.
I dreamed that I had a baby. The most vivid image was floating down a forest path. The baby wrapped resting on a tire - which for most of the ride was a bigger raft that I also straddled sitting on a bump. We arrived at some village home and I held her up. Her blanket fell and her limbs in her little sleeper dangled. She opened her eyes and looked at me for the first time. I'd traveled all that way with her without ever looking her in the eyes. We wrapped her back up. I woke from that dream.
I spent yesterday at the SAIMED office. I talked with Juliet and then lingered playing cards on the computer. Mathieu started talking to me about politics in the town, Bienvenu's management style and local wood cutting industry. He's generally quiet but very smart. He will boycott the May 1st party.
Bars have been ordered to close at 18h all weekend because there is a gang of bandits in town for a funeral. They've promised to cause damage in town. Le Notre and Aloys agreed that the situation was badly managed. Closing the town shows that the bandits are in control.
I didn't get April words typed/written (many holes to fill!) today but I did get other writing done.
I met with Bienvenu about how he sees the future of his business and what needs to be taken care of in the future. I talked generally but told him that he needs some guidance to learn better management techniques. He appears ready to listen more openly.
Then I visited Pat. I hadn't seen him since he'd left for Geneva in mid-March. It ends up his mission wasn't renewed and his flight is booked for May 13th. I'll miss having him around.
The rain started around 5 am. It's almost 10 am and it's still raining. Nice, cold, calm sleeping weather. The electricity is out and the compound is quiet as if nobody is home next door.
I've started to outline the month. None of it is typed and there may be many holes. I need to get as much of it done as possible. Waiting for the electricity to return.
Faith is an odd commodity. When it is especially strong it can hold people completely blind to the realities around them. But when it shatters, it is rather difficult to restore.
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