REPORT A PROBLEM
I cooked flat bread, boiled potatoes and a beef bouillon this morning. The neighbor kids came over and helped peal potatoes and cut up pineapple. After finishing in the kitchen, I cleaned the bathroom and all the floors. I finished just in time to see the England vs. Portugal game with the neighbors. Then I went to get my newest caba from the tailor.
Roger should be arriving within the hour. He's had a bad travel day, waited hours for the bus. I'll drop in again next door. Brazil is playing France &I'm hearing screams of excitement.
Anticipating Roger's arrival&.
We had a very good visit, sorted out some things and started talking of wedding details. An invite list nearing 200 people and that only includes 3 volunteers! I'm tired and I don't feel like writing. I need to prepare for a week long trip. I'll go to YaoundÃƒÆ'Ã‚Â© tomorrow. Roger will meet me in Mfou at the end of the day and we'll negotiate the site rental. The next day I'll travel early to Mbalmyo. Wednesday and Thursday I'll give class to the new group of trainees. Friday I travel to the west province for Tiffany's wedding. Rainy day.
I was sitting on a bench at the entrance to Inter-Voyage in Akonolinga when a crazy woman stomped over to me and started giving me an incomprehensible riot act. She was thin and nimble dressed in police kaki pants and a zipper jacket with a scarf tied around her head. She poked at my forehead. There was a crowd of people I know behind her but nobody intervened. I finally agreed oui and she calmed down. She wanted to take me in. I asked where? She said to the Catholic Mission. Eventually she sat down, laughed and chatted with me.
Roger met me last night in Mfou. We drank beer with Magloire and Bienvenu2 before looking at the site. We didn't make much progress with the negotiation. Roger wants Magloire to step up and help us, but he's holding back.
I traveled directly to Mbalmyo. The new group of trainees had a small 4th of July party that ended rather early in the afternoon. It's hard to get an idea of what the group is like. Two of them have gone home already. So my post in Akonolinga will probably not be replaced.
Liz's baby girl was born this morning.
I gave a marketing class with Rosalyn today to the new group of trainees. I talked a lot and gave many examples. We split them into 3 groups and had them write out what they'd need in a bank as farmers, functionaries and market mamas. They said it was a practical interesting class.
I hung out with Olivier, the Cameroonian technical trainer. We watched the World Cup semi-finals with other training staff in a neighborhood bar.
I'm really tired and worn out. I've been up late the last three nights and meeting this group and constantly answering questions is exhausting.
We taught another marketing class this morning. Afterwards Christiane, a language trainer, said that I should stay in Cameroon. She was impressed with how much I understand about the culture here and doesn't want my knowledge to go to waste.
I rode back to Yaound - in a PC car with Gaby and Jon. I've gotten a handful of things done. I'm ready to go to Bafang in the morning. Anna & I'll go to the cold bar at Mobile Omni-Sport. Roger's phone isn't working but he calls from the office fixed line. I expect to see him & JC later.
I had a hot shower at the caz, filed my vacation form and packed my bag before leaving for Bafang. There's a bus company just down the road which saved us the hassle of dealing with the madness at Tongolo. The ride to Bafang was over 4 hours. I talked with other passengers about gay marriage (there was an article in my Newsweek which caught their eye).
Tiffany and Blaze were married at the mayor's office this morning. The reception is in a nightclub tonight. The pcvs are about to meet up for a beer before going to the party.
I slept in and let the others travel to Bafoussam ahead (at 7am). I went over to see Tim's house and had coffee & lunch with him before continuing to Bafoussam myself. Pat's going away party's tonight.
Tiffany's wedding reception has filled my head with ideas and details. There were assigned seats waiting for us and we were greeted with a shot of whiskey. There weren't many speeches. It was a lot of fun but the dancing got started late. The cake was hard to sell, I guess the Bamilike don't know that tradition (it's more of a Yaound thing).
Anna hosted an American brunch this morning. Hash browns, sausage, scattered eggs and wheat toast. Jessie and I helped her cook. Pat and Jen came over. Afterwards I traveled back to YaoundÃƒÆ'Ã‚Â©. I watched the World Cup final up the road from the caz with the other pcv's around. It was very hard getting a hold of Roger. There are problems with the network but I got the impression he was turning off his phone. I just wanted to know if he'd gotten back ok from Anastasia's mother's funeral. Papillon called to say he's passed out and I got angry.
Big apologies, voice messages and phone calls. He came to find me after work and apologize again. He's realized that his life is out of control. I'm not completely sure what triggered it but he's woken up. He says he'll stop drinking but then we went out for a beer. We had a good talk and discussed some wedding details. (He told his mother.)
I spent the day on scattered tasks. I sent e-mails, did laundry, shopped at Score, went back to town with Pat to buy a new phone. (He lost his phone during his last night in Bafoussam.)
After going to the caz to pick up my stuff, I came home to Akonolinga. I'm always ready to sleep when I get home no matter what time of day it is. Aloys called soon after I got home. We went out for a beer to catch up but after exchanging some initial news, we didn't have much to say to each other. I ate some soya but the beer went to my head. He actually left me to finish up at the bar because he had another rendez-vous. I'm now ready to crash. I should sleep soundly. Good night.
I'm way behind on my words this month while last month I did so well! I pulled weeds this morning before going to the office and visiting with Juliet and Mathieu. Back at home, Mme Bodo finished moving out and gave me the key to the main house. She agreed to leave Bulldog with me since I am now alone in the compound.
Juliet and I walked 8 kilometers. She's trying to get in shape.
I've been working on the invitations, budget and program. We need to figure out how to use the spaces at CRATAD to our best advantage.
I have one more week age 35. I don't know what age means anymore, sounds old. I'll leave excessive commentary for next week.
I now have two exercise buddies. Abena picked me up at 6:30am and we biked 24k to quatorze and back. I dragged and complained but made it. Then tonight I walked with Juliet out to Eboa on the other side of the bridge.
Robert called to tell me that PC approval came through.
Nico, Cecile, Ziegel and Carine all got the calls from Mifed that they'll be hired.
Bienvenu back in town, we had a beer together.
The dog doesn't want to stay with me. I went back over to get him this afternoon, coaxing him back with a bone. Eventually he got up to leave and I started talking to him. He paused by my door before advancing towards the gate. I sat on my walk-way talking to him. He paused staring at me for a long time. Finally he slid under the gate and went to his new home.
Nervous here alone, I replaced the outside light of the main house, turned it on and closed the barrier. Then around 10pm Laure arrived next door.
The warm light of magic hour is reflecting off the white wall of the neighboring house. My house is completely clean and I have a big pot of bouillon brewing on the stove. Not only is Roger about to arrive but he's bringing his best friend, Papillion and his date. It's the first time Papillion has come to visit. (He was first invited over a year ago.) I've enjoyed getting cleaned up and cooking today. Prince is blaring from my boom box. There's beer in the fridge. We should have a good time. I hope they're not having travel troubles.
The crew has left for YaoundÃƒÆ'Ã‚Â©. We went out late and then walked around town today before having lunch at Pauline's. Papillion is animated and tells great stories. He brought a nice girl with him. It's so hard to let Roger leave but the whole group wants to come back next weekend to drink palm wine au village and I'll go to YaoundÃƒÆ'Ã‚Â© on Thursday to have a fancy dinner with Roger for my birthday. We need to advance the wedding plans as well, negotiate the site and choose a mayor district and get our names published, confirm the date.
Chantal came by to let me know she's back in town. I've been fine without her but I'll talk with her tomorrow about what work she can do.
I've just spent hours playing with wedding plans; the invite design, the invitation list, program of events, budget etc& We'd agreed that we need to scale it all down but then ideas keep popping up and it continues to get out of hand. Having the reception in Mfou simplifies some things and complicates others. I need to print all this stuff out and discuss it with Roger.
My nose is running constantly.
Chantal didn't show up this morning. Since Bienvenu is in YaoundÃƒÆ'Ã‚Â© I didn't go to the office. I've stayed in all day, dozed and listened to the radio. My cold has knocked me out, nose like a fountain, pressure in my ears. I'm finally taking more medicine. My thoughts are consumed with wedding plans. Everything I need to do is in YaoundÃƒÆ'Ã‚Â© but I don't like leaving the compound completely empty for very long. I've started a light mystery novel. I'll crawl back into bed and read between naps. (I end up reading until 3 am almost finishing the book.)
Chantal came this morning. Her baby has grown and is much more aware of her surroundings. She washed some clothes and made some cabbage. I told her I could live without her but if I'm going to pay her each month, she needs to find something to clean even if I'm not home.
Mathieu came over to give me all the updates. It looks like he'll get a job with the new SAT. He's just waiting for the final call. I took him out for a beer. He's a very pleasant, calm person. I have my fingers crossed for him.
I didn't stop to think about my age. I just planned some productive activities and enjoyed receiving e-mails and phone calls.
I came into YaoundÃƒÆ'Ã‚Â© this morning. I went to the Embassy to pick up a letter for the Chief du quartier regarding the classrooms the US Embassy self-help program has helped build. The community members need to produce benches and desks before the Ambassador comes to inaugurate the building. I had lunch with Rich and collected information from the counselor's office about the visa process. There's another trainee at the case ETing.
I have a date with Roger tonight.
My birthday yesterday was really great. Roger and I had a nice leisurely romantic meal at CafÃƒÆ'Ã‚Â© YaoundÃƒÆ'Ã‚Â© talking of everything and nothing. Then we went next door to the renovated Safari nightclub, played a game of pool, drank a half bottle of Johnny Walker and danced. If people knew that I'm stealing the highest quality Cameroonian man from right under their noses, a true rebellion would break out.
I came home in the afternoon. When Roger called he was disappointed to hear that I'm already back home in Akonolinga. Pauline stopped by to discuss problems with her husband. Night.
I didn't leave the house and had no visitors today. I read and napped and wrote and ate and the time passed quickly.
When it comes down to the nitty-gritty truth, she wants to change him, rekindle the love in their marriage. But in a polygamous society, where it's completely acceptable, sometimes even expected, for men to have mistresses, men are never forced to work out their marital problems. They just move on to another women's bed. Unfortunately wives choices are limited. Leaving is possible but complicated and rare. Mostly, they have to learn to live with whatever he does.
I had a parade of visitors this morning. Pauline came by early, completely distraught, finally filling me in on the details of her problems. I gave her money to travel to the village of her husband and attempt to return with his mother. Pejero stopped by. Solange visited with the baby. Aloys came over with the princess. Eventually I traveled to YaoundÃƒÆ'Ã‚Â©. I found JC moving into the bigger apartment next door. He travels to the States tomorrow. Had a beer with the pcv crowd at the Kaelly. Roger came to get me late in the evening which frustrated me.
I went to Mfou this morning to negotiate the site rental for the reception with CRATAD and then register at the mayor's office. I was afraid that the Mayor would cause me problems wanting a whole series of envelopes but it ends up that Michael, an employee of CRATAD is good friends with the Mayor. He even got a 5,000cfa fee waved. As a side business Michael produces and sells a natural version of Viagra that many of the authorities in town are hooked on. Filling out official papers was like pinching myself. I'm planning MY wedding. It's official .
Yesterday Sylvie took me to the Bricc to introduce me to the Senegalese tailor. I showed him a photo of a wedding dress. He took measurements. This morning I went with him to Mokolo market to buy all the fabrics. Embroidered satin, muslin, lining, trimmings. Sitting in a tiny stall on a small low wooden stool with bunches of people pushing past I was selecting the trimmings and my heart thumped in my throat. Have I selected a good style? Tailor? Fabric? I'd never imagined that I'd be alone in such a setting making such choices for the big day.
My new bus station is right at the edge of Roger's neighborhood so when he went to work I came back to Akonolinga. I got out at SAIMED and participated in an meeting about reorganizing office space.
Pauline's son came by my house and informed me that she has traveled again and instructed her two children to come and stay at my house until she returns. Suddenly I have two kids to feed, care for and entertain. Thrilled to see and touch everything in the white woman's house, they've played every CD I have, braided my hair and talk loud.
I wish I had an idea when Pauline will return. If she'd at least called, I'd feel less put upon. I've finally calmed her daughter with some watercolors but I don't know how long that calm will last. I have no TV to plop them in front of and I'm not accustomed to ignoring children they way local adults do. But I must learn to some degree because I can't stay focused on them 24/7.
My own concentration comes and goes. At least when I'm home these days I constantly have writing streaming through my head. Need a disciplined schedule.
She says she's ready to pack up and leave him and asks how I see the situation. I have to hesitate. All the advice I've offered so far has straddled the American- Cameroonian divide. Now my gut reaction is completely American. Leave. But in years no Cameroonian woman in front of me has seriously considered leaving her husband and they often don't have social support. I don't see much difference between yesterday and today. So why is her liberty and honor more valuable now? Can she really make it on her own? Is she really ready to go? Maybe not.
I talked for hours with Chantal yesterday. She told me the full story of the crazy lady who attacked me. Fascinating. Bienvenu's kids came over to paint. I worked on the wedding invitation. It's turning out really nice. Pauline came by to cry. Aloys and Alan took us out for beer. Aloys wanted to negotiate buying my laptop.
Abena came by this morning with his hunting riffle. Djoki has returned from Bertoua. I'm sure I'll see him later. But before getting distracted, I want to write down the crazy lady's story. I also want to print out a sample invitation.
Pauline's problems are starting to weigh on me. Each evening she needs something urgently that's different from what she needed in the morning. She doesn't always tell me the whole story. All her problems need money. She doesn't realize that it's rare that I give people money, especially as much as 15.000cfa, which I gave her last week. She's running around like a chicken with her head cut off. It's exhausting me.
At 22h30 someone tried to open my locked door. Freaked me out! I sent a text to the Delegate up the road. She came over with her son.
I finished the wedding invitations today. They took forever to print. Mathieu found an exacto-knife which helped the cutting a great deal. They're original, no two are alike. I was frustrated Saturday, I'd imagined perfection. But I'm pleased with the results.
I've tied the gate shut. I keep hearing noises as if someone is opening it. I don't like being so jumpy. I've just gone out and padlocked it shut. Visitors will just have to learn to bang loudly. Many more people have visited me regularly in the past few weeks than previously.
My sisters just called from London. Miss them!
The Tip Jar