I had an incredible 4th of July, complete with vanilla ice cream and apple pie (followed by Arnold Palmers, halal hot dogs, potato salad, watermelon, and iced sugar cookies). Megan came up for it and we cooked for my neighbors. Then we went to Maroua for a pagne spending spree (which turned into a Porte Mayo-staying, -eating spending spree, which turned into me finding out I have no money).
Today, I went to Kolofata to do a Moringa training and plant trees. Few people showed up but it was a good even so. I need to try to organize the Magdeme training tomorrow. I waited out the rain in Mora before coming home – I’m finally learning ! It has been raining a lot lately, which is good – we need it.
Friday the 13th and I’m happy. I took an awful practice LSAT but I’ve since started studying. I like the logic games and studying makes me feel productive but it’s so weird here! Magdeme+intense productivity=?…an indefinite equation. Actually, I’ve been productive on the work front too ! Catherine, a nearby Health volunteer, and I are continuing our series of Moringa trainings today and this weekend. CADEPI trees were delivered to Doulo farmers Wednesday and yesterday. And I planted trees around the well. My next move is to plant 100 trees at the health center. I’m no longer in the red for tree-planting, though – woot !
Two years ago today I found out I was coming to Cameroon! I am currently chasing zuzus (giant flying insects that come out after the rain and that can be fried and eaten) with Goni’s daughters, Kakaesa, Yagana, and Falta. I’ve never seen Falta so excited about anything ha. They are yummy (zuzus, that is).
It’s 3:45 AM. Ramadan started last night. It is overcast and you can’t see the sky here but someone must have seen the moon somewhere. In any case, the government announces the moon-sighting on the radio. I’m only going to do a few days of the fast but NO cheating this year (that means no water, aye). I’m currently up really early to binge eat noufou (I’ve decided noufou – peanuts and a tree nut ground up to a fudgy consistency – is the key to my Ramadan survival strategy) – I could get used to this. Ha, talk to me in a few hours. I finally purchased prayer beads in Mora yesterday – from a very confused-looking kid. People take sacred items here very seriously and I’m not sure how they would feel about me buying beads. So I didn’t even try to bargain the price. I felt like I was buying drugs (not that I would know how that feels, of course!).
These last few days have been an insane whirlwind of tree planting, LSAT studying, organizing the CADEPI project, and holding Moringa trainings. I have no idea how everything is going to get done before I leave for VACATION on Tuesday but it is and I will be outta here. If one more person asks for a cadeau while I’m planting their trees, I’m going to flip but oh well. It is really good to get out and work. The trees are kickin’ my butt…literally, I’m sore! On a side note – yesterday I was working at the health center when a van full of bloody people, including a nassara, came flying in. One of the agence buses had an accident because the driver fell asleep and hit a sheep in Magdeme – yikes. No one was seriously injured, thank goodness.
Well, back to bed. A perfect day would be going to Doulo in the morning and returning for a long afternoon rain/rest before break-fast pizza. But the rain’s starting now so we’ll see.
Palendrome date! Whew, Ramadan tires you out. I’m shot.
Man alive! Remember me?! A lot has happened in the three weeks since I’ve written – vacation, close-of-service (COS) conference, the return trip…where to start?! I want to write about the most recent things but I also want to go in chronological order so I’ll be briefer than I should be. Here goes…
-I spent the lead up to vacation doing some serious tree planting at the hospital. Lo and behold, they survived (thus far)! I also spent the time falling off the Ramadan wagon in a big way. Oh well, 2 days (of real fasting – no food or water between 4 AM and 6 PM) is progress from last year! 30 more years here and I’ll be good to go for the whole month. Anyway, abandoning village for the duration of Asham was a great idea since people are pretty zombie-like throughout, which brings me to…
-VACATION! A few friends and I started our vacation with a trip to Mokolo to pick up the matching Extreme North dresses we had made for COS conference. They weren’t exactly what we asked for but they still look great (and very impressive for a village tailor). The same tailor is making Megan and me our Ramadan clothes out of ridiculously hideous pagne that we bought as a joke in Magdeme. I can’t wait to see them!
[Side note: I was just having a tranquil, I-love-Africa ride to Maroua to pay my dang landlord and prepare food for the end of Ramadan party when our tire burst. I’m now sitting under a tree on the side of the road. Luckily the Mont Mandara boys can change a tire in -10 seconds at the age of 3].
Anyway, we had a nice, slow, leisurely trip down south. We spent a few great days in Ngaoundere and visited Madame Wabo (a renowned tailor who makes American-style clothes out of pagne) in Yaounde before heading to Kribi (the beach!). It really felt like vacation. Our train ride was simultaneously awesome and awful. I hate first class (where you have a seat instead of a bed for the 13 hour, overnight ride)! I can’t sleep at all and end up spending the whole night eating the cookies sold on the train. But an old al-Adji sitting next to us broke fast with us by sharing his food (which prompted everyone else to do so as well). It was really cute. And, even though we left Ngaoundere an hour later because of Ramadan, we still got into Yaounde at 7:30 AM! I love it when the train is on time! The POOR girls following us were on the train for 25 HOURS! They woke up in Ngaoundal – the stop after Ngaoundere, which they had left 10 hours before – and got into Yaounde at 7:30 PM. Anyway, the South was prune (a purple and green fruit unique to Africa that I would describe as a bizarre combination of an olive, a baked potato, and an avocado)/plantain central. YUM. And Kribi was amazing. We ended up being there for 6 days, enough time to make a boat load of Cameroonian friends. Kribi is a port town and has a very colonial feel but it’s pretty quiet. We stayed in a hotel run by Northerners right across the road from President Biya’s house. Every morning we would run, jump in the ocean, and have tea, yogurt, and bananas for breakfast. Glor.i.ous. We also talked our way onto Biya’s beach, which made for a very tranquil time. Unfortunately, my wallet was stolen on the last night. Thank goodness I had just taken my phone out so he didn’t get that, too. But he did get my money and our hotel key. I had a minor breakdown about the robbery – it just made me feel so different. No matter what (Megan and I had been speaking Fulfulde to the omelet-sandwich making guys from the North when it happened!), we will always be white, which, in itself, is enough justification to rob someone. I also felt incompetent. And our new Cameroonian friends felt ashamed. Pardon the expression but, all around, it sucked. Not a great way to leave but fantastic trip overall.
-From Kribi we returned to Yaounde for COS conference. The first day was held at the embassy, where we got our COS dates (November 15th!) and candy corn. COS conference…mixed feelings. It is sinking in that we will be leaving and I was really sad. What with hanging out with 50 Americans, talking about the post-Peace Corps transition, and staying at an upscale hotel, the whole week felt like we were already in America. But, at the same time, that is what I loved about vacation/the South – it didn’t feel like we were in America but like we were in the proud, distinct, dynamic, developing Africa. I have so loved my experience in the North and wouldn’t have traded it for anything but it is SO different (and stagnant) compared to the South. I could never stay and live there indefinitely. Au contraire, the South is alive and I could see myself putting down roots there. But I shudder at the typical ex-pat life in the South (the very antithesis of putting down roots, more like living in a glass bubble). I spent the whole week thinking about how unusual and incredible the Peace Corps experience really is and how I’m going to have to give it up soon. On perhaps an even grave-er note, I had the horrid realization that my clichi (sun-dried meat) days are numbered! Oh no!
-Anyway, I’m back in Magdeme now and I feel like I haven’t written for months. I spent my first days back being pretty “blah” and feeling different and melancholy. Mushee, one of the health center workers, told me a story about how the people in his village believe that children die during rainy season because the sorcerers have to consume human flesh before eating fresh okra, which is harvested early in the season. Always question your assumptions! Here I am teaching women about anti-bacterial, insect-repellant neem lotion and they probably don’t even get why those characteristics are advantageous! COS conference was hard and sad but why draw the departure? Why couldn’t we just rip the Band-aid at the end? I don’t like changes and good-byes. They make me feel lonely. And yet, at the moment, I don’t feel very motivated or social and I want to read. But I need to be making the most of Africa! Bah. The weather here is cool right now and it feels like autumn at home, which evokes memories of when I left the States 2 years ago. It is bizarre to be experiencing the same feelings from the other side of the pond. Full circle.
The Ramadan fete started yesterday, which was nice. So many cookies, sodas, oil/rice plates, I literally think I gained 10 pounds. Megan and I looked ridiculous(ly) stylin’ in our bright green outfits. I love Ramadan here because it is a holiday for the kids and everyone looks so nice.
P.S. On good notes, my health center trees survived (okay, I already said that but it’s a very good note!) and three of my students – Boukar Boukar, Mahama Adama, and Amos – passed their national exams! Big congrats to them!
Wow, I had such a wonderful day! It was a typically Al-Adji/Djanabo trop (“too much”) day but since part of that involved being trop en retard (“very late”), at least I got to spend the morning at the house. But – wait for it – we placed the bee hives!!! Man, did we place those hives. I am so GLAD it’s finally done. Josue came (okay, people say he can be annoying but the guy is persistent and it pays off – the Korean ambassador called him to order honey while we were sitting on a mat in Algonderi!). And about 10 guys from village voluntarily came and helped us get everything set up. Cam Cam is spoiling me – all you do is say you want something done and it happens (it just may happen 3 days later and in a manner you didn’t intend at all). Cameroonians are awesome – they were chopping trees, carrying said trees on their heads, driving motos through rivers, etc. – to get the hives in place. Speaking of, maybe Cameroon isn’t spoiling me – we walked through a legitimate sea to find a site for the hives (my second such excursion in a week – more on that later). It was worth it, though. Afterwards, we held an impromptu, on-site apiculture training. It was super. And throughout it all, the day was gorgeous and cool. Woot! (I only wish I’d done it sooner so I could have seen the harvest!).
I love Jane Austen! And this is why: “let other pens dwell on guilt and misery. I quit such odious subjects as soon as I can, impatient to restore everybody, not greatly at fault themselves, to tolerable comfort, and to have done with all the rest.” So talented at painting reality and yet what an unrealistic reality it is:) – a good break from some of the realities in Cameroon, regardless.
I’m drowning! This is the most intense rain I’ve ever been in. It is literally raining in my house through the roof. It is funny (and by that I mean not at all funny) to try conceiving of an evacuation here.
INSANE. The rain started a second round. I feel like I should start building my boat and cherching pairs of animals.
Ok now’s as good of a time as any to catch up on my journal. A better time, actually – there is no end in sight to this rain…
-I was busy for the past 2 weeks with camps and visitors. Cedric, one of our language trainers in Bafia, called me 2 weeks ago to say he was in Maroua and needed a place to stay/someone to hang out with. I went in to see him and luckily found a volunteer to host him there for the night. We had a fun, if brief, visit. After climbing the mountain in the morning, I left to make it back for my day of the girls’ camp in Kolofata. The seminar was fun but, holy cow was our retour an adventure. It had rained in the morning and the Kolofata “road,” which is unpaved, was destroyed. Nouhou, my friend and moto driver, was 1.5 hours late coming to get me as a result. And, on the way back, I could see why he had been delayed– we were practically moto-ing down a river (not across, down). When we got to Mora I was unbelievably productive – market, LSAT books, sous-prefet meeting – but I made it so that our depart was right into another storm. We had to take cover in the Doulo chief’s compound for an hour. Finally, I decided to leave, even though it was still raining. I got home cold, wet, and tired – and happy to be there!
-Friday started out to be a really good day. I was so ready to just be tranquil and stable in village for a bit. I walked to Double, visited the doctor, and found out that construction is starting on the new school (incredible, it’s actually happening!). Then, when I got back to my house, I saw a text saying that I had visitors – volunteers from the South – on the way. Ahhhhh – my life/house have been in disorder since vacation! I didn’t panic, though. I cleaned my house and yard like CRAZY for 3 hours. Then I went to Mora to stock up on food. I got back just in time to finish up, ask Kaltime to prepare red millet and tasba for dinner, and pretend like I hadn’t lifted a finger before they arrived. We had a pretty good night – walked to Double for beers, ate traditional food, had tea, passed out. The next morning we had French toast and bean beignets. Then we went on a serious trek to Ganai Shua to look at Arab houses. On our walk, all I could think was “can’t go over it, can’t go under it, have to go through it.” Mud! Anyway, they left shortly after we got back.
-Finally some respite but not much because Jess and her visiting sister’s drama camp in Mora started Monday. Spending a whole week discussing communication was a great idea and it went really well. I had to run to Maroua to send in a work survey on the third day and saw that Peace Corps had purchased my ticket home – November 15th, here I come! I tried to aller/retour Maroua in one day and almost made it but our car started smoking in Godola (10 km outside of the city) and we had to turn around. I was too beat to try again so I stayed. The next morning, I got the Mont Mandara rickshaw back to Mora. Of course, the sous-prefet stood me up for our meeting so I ate cookies instead.
-Anyway, that brings me to the weekend. I’ve already written about our hive installation. I spent Saturday and Sunday doing my computer class and some farm visits in Doulo. Bah, do you know what Ishaga, one of my students, asked me? He goes “pardon, Madame, I know you have done so much for us, I am ashamed to ask, but could you bring us all to America?” Ummm…who do you guys think I am? My projects really must seem miniscule compared to what they think I am capable of. I explained the difficulty of the visa application process and they were like “oh! Well when you become a minister you can waive all of our visa applications.” Not how it works in the good ol’ U.S. of A., my friends. Things are wrapping up well for work, though – bees-check, Doulo trees-check, threaten the well-technician with prison if he doesn’t come collect his materials-check. Still to do: plant the Magdeme school trees, take my high school students to Mozogo, and send back the well stuff. It is hard to believe the end is approaching (and the LSAT stands in the way – aye). Djanabo and Kaltime are pregnant and I won’t be here to see the kids! I do plant to stay in touch, of course (and that includes baby clothes shopping for Djanabo!). Speaking of, I am going to use the last bit of this rain (which is finally clearing up!) to answer a great letter from Grandad before heading to Mora.
I have an awful cold. I couldn’t taste my noufou lunch – sad day.
I went to Gawel to visit Megan the other day. We walked to Loulou and visited the Italian priest there. Man, the guy has a weird life – a flat screen TV and France24 news in Loulou (a village that, but for the solar panels installed on the priests house, doesn’t have electricity)?! And a weird outlook – he distributes malaria medicine to the whole village and claims that distributing things is an ideal development strategy. Effective, maybe, but completely unsustainable. But he also has ricotta cheese, hard cheese, lemonade, and amazing oranges that he very generously shared. We radically changed worlds (change for the better?) when we went left and went to the Loulou market and sat on logs to drink giant beers with the gendarmes. Leaving the following morning, seeing the school director en route, joking with one of the gendarmes from the day before about not having my ID and fording the river with Maman Isaac’s sister made me really sad about one day leaving for good. Also making me sad – Djanabo is planning a serious-sounding fete for my departure. [Sidenote: lizards love noufou…can you blame them?].
Really nice, cool morning – especially nice after how hot it was yesterday (luckily, we got some rain last night). I’m feeling less angst-y today than yesterday. I spent quite a bit of yesterday afternoon just walking around village and it was really nice. I chatted with my old man friends, Bintu and Aicha, and the phone credit men in Kanuri and visited Kodomi and the doctor. A banana truck broke down here a few weeks ago and today the driver decided to give all of the spoiling bananas away. It seriously felt like a holiday in Magdeme. Everyone, from village grandes to babies with no teeth, had bananas – boxes of them. People after my own heart. The banana bonanza contributed a lot to the good mood. And, of course, gorgeous sky on my Loki walk.
Ah! I just almost stepped on a GIANT lizard (kimono dragon style) in my latrine! I FREAKED out – not okay! Aye, those lizards are so creepy – more lizard-like than snake-like but certainly too snake-like for comfort.
I’m ready to go home. I wish I wasn’t but I am. It doesn’t help that I’m reading The Best and the Brightest and studying for the LSAT. Or that I was a blob yesterday. Hard to believe I have 6 weeks left here…I think part of my stagnancy is that I have to be here but can’t work that much (because of the LSAT – I can’t wait until it’s over!).
Happy anniversary, self and Peace Corps!
S.O.S! I can taste NOTHING because of this cold! I seriously think I’m depressed about it. And paranoid. My senses of smell and taste will come back, right?!?!
I had a meeting with the director, the chief, and the parents at the school on Monday. We are going to plant the trees tomorrow. It is sad and shameful that the mountain people are obviously so much poorer than Kanuri people and yet they send their children to school and the Kanuri do not. An old man was going around village today trying to register students. Afterwards he said he was giving up after getting only 6 kids in 2 weeks.
After the meeting I went to Maroua. It was my most terrifying Mont Mandara ride yet. We had a new driver and he FLEW (which you can NOT do if you do not know the road here). And he was off the road more than he was on it. Anyway, I went to say goodbye to an American friend and to purchase a painting from a Cameroonian artist friend who is also leaving. President Paul Biya is coming to town and another friend, who is a member of the Presidential Guard, said I should come see him. We went on an epic search for the temporary barracks, which involved looking like spies and almost getting our awesome moto driver arrested. The military here is crazy.
I moto-ed all the way back to Magdeme the next day because the agence was packed. It changed my life.
This morning I biked to Mora for some exercise. On the way back I hit a cow. And then a whiskey truck stopped and a hilarious Indian man gave me a giant bag of Vodka in sachets. Thanks? Now it’s raining again. Man, we suffer without water and we suffer with water! Maga, Pousse, Benoue, Garoua, and Lagdo – cities and villages in the North and Extreme North – really are suffering. The storm from a few days ago had devastating effects – there were many deaths and thousands of homes and crop acres were completely destroyed. Displaced people are now living in schools and camps and they are saying cholera has started breaking out. Even people here are getting nervous that their dry season millet will spoil in the nurseries before they can plant it. Goni was literally bailing out his farm today. And to think the States had a drought this year!
The well project is out of my life. The well technician sent Mahmadou with a cart to PUSH the materials (probably 600 pounds worth of equipment) to Mora. Fete! (Well, not for Mahmadou). Project completion is accelerating. We planted the trees at the school yesterday (good, helpful turnout! I so wish I had a camera for when ALL the students paraded to my house to get the trees). I got a package! This is shaping up to be a good day.
Flat bike tire at 5:15 PM in Doulo. Not enough time to fix it before dark so I had to find a moto and I’ll be going back for my bike tomorrow. Fail. It’s windy and stormy out. The sky looks just like the opening sequence in the Harry Potter movies. The sky is so beautiful here – I am preemptively missing Cameroon. Then I think of the Cornell clock tower playing Harry Potter music in the winter and I miss home. Ah! One word for my last weeks here: schizophrenia.
Well, I am post-LSAT, for better or worse. It is so nice to be home. But so hard to believe home is only home for 3 more weeks! I’m sitting with Goni while he looks at my Morgan Horse magazines – one of his favorite pastimes. Write soon.
Okay, STILL need to write my update but I am WIPED out. I biked 30 km to Ganse for a moringa training for Rural Women’s Day, which is actually on Monday. But the training got started late (*gasp*) because we spent the morning planting 600 trees. Turnout was great and the photo ops were even better – too bad Jess and I forgot our cameras! I biked back and visited with Djanabo before coming home. Okay, the day was a lot more tiring than it sounds. I wanted to pass out but Goni and Kodomi (after Goni sent his daughters to get the non-existent corn that we planted in my compound – oops! The corn is non-existent because I’ve been eating it. I am going to turn into an ear of corn). Now, I should update my journal but I finally get to sleep so GOOD NIGHT!
P.S. It rained (a big one) last night! I skipped my Loki walk in favor of tea and Tom Robbins. Good thing because the thunder wasn’t lying. I love the smell of rain!
One month from today I will be getting on a plane to the U.S. Craaazzzyyy. [P.S. Happy (real) Rural Women’s Day!] I can’t take the ups and downs of the final weeks! On the one hand, I could leave today and I’m ready to. On the other hand, they are seriously going to have to tie me to a moto to get me out of here. Falta and Yagana asked me to stay last night. And Goni told me that the whole village is praying I go home and get a good job so I can come back and visit. So many emotions! Okay, long overdue but here’s a quick recap of my trip to Yaounde…
-I started the voyage by visiting Megan in Gawel. It was a lightning trip that looks like it was my last time there! We ate Fred, her chicken – I think it was the best chicken I have ever had. There is something about food that doesn’t come out of a plastic container from P&C…
-I got the bus in Maroua the next day. It didn’t leave until 11, boo! But I got a good seat next to a cute little high school student who shared all of his snacks with me. The trip went fairly well until we got to the University of Ngaoundere, about 5 km from the city, and could go no further. People kept saying the road was couped (which is what they say when bandits attack) and that scared me for a second (it was 8:30 PM and we were sitting ducks!). But they meant the road had literally been couped (“cut”) – it had been torn up for a construction project and a big truck had gotten stuck in the mud, which blocked all traffic. The driver basically told us “good luck” getting to Ngaoundere so I squished on a moto between some old Fulbe men and off we went.
-I ran, got breakfast, and easily validated my train ticket all before 7:30 AM. I love being matinale (an early morning person) here! The train was good. I woke up in the middle of the night to John Denver music and thought I was dreaming. But a fellow PCV traveler confirmed it. It turns out the train crew just has great taste in music because they played 90s tunes on the return trip. The best part of the train, though, was getting in at 7 AM (on the arrival and the return!). I’m afraid I used up all my train travel karma! The train didn’t go so well for everyone, though – Jeff got in the day after us and said that he saw someone try to jump off the train only to get pulled under and crushed. It happened coming into Yaounde, right in front of a bean mama. Eek.
-Anyway, Yaounde was pretty uneventful. I made way too many Cameroonian friends. I let leaving go to my head and gave out my number with abandon. Mistake! Cameroonians can be so creepy with their incessant calls and text messages! I met a cool German-American expat who grew up in Rochester. Small world! I was supposed to go to their house for dinner but she got sick.
Now I’m back in Mags. I think I took my last Mont Mandara ride from Maroua yesterday!! I’m heading to Mozogo on Saurday with my students and Tala Mokolo on Sunday and that’s pretty much it for work. Good thing I’m leaving because I’m getting a little too integrated – starting to believe in spirits. First, there’s my cold, which I think I got from biking to Ganse in the wind (curse you, Cameroonians, for being right sometimes about the “fresh” air! Explanation: Cameroonians contend that fresh air (and, at times, spirits in the air) causes illness, which is why they steadfastly refuse to ride with car windows open regardless of the heat or bodily odors of fellow passengers. Attitudes towards fresh air and car windows have been known to lead to not insignificant confrontations between volunteers and Cameroonians travelers). Then, we passed a Mont Mandara car with a flat 2 days ago and had to stop because we also had a flat. Spirit trap! (Except that, for us at least, it was a false alarm, phew).
Burned dry season millet fields smell like Pizza Hut! One month!
Cheering on the electricity, which is trying it’s hardest to come back on and stay on at the moment – c’mon, c’mon, c’mon!!!
Trip to Mozogo completed. TalaMokolo tomorrow. Fete du mouton (a Muslim holiday)Friday. Going away party Sunday. Depart. Just had a huge traditional dinner that hit the spot. YUM. Now I’m beat from Mozogo and going to bed (it’s 5:18 PM).
Ten day countdown and what a way to kick it off. Exhausted. Will write about it tomorrow.
I can’t stand the Magdeme market. Two languages (no French)+two currencies=very small chance of getting what you want. Garrggh!!!
Okay, so…Sunday – the trop-est of all my trop days with al-Adji and Djanabo. I have spent some good times sandwiched between those two on a moto and Sunday was one of the best – and longest – of them. We went to Tala Mokolo to see the apiculture project there. Holy cow, I do NOT remember the trip being that horrendous. You literally moto UP a rocky mountain. It was both strange and cool to take Cameroonians somewhere right in their backyard they had never been before. Al-Adji did a good job driving (despite the fact that Djanabo and I were grabbing onto him for dear life and backseat driving like crazy). Unfortunately, a young boy was driving Djanabo’s mom and she basically ended up walking the entire way way. So it took a while. We almost fell several times and I became a real volunteer as a result – tattoo-ed up Cameroon-style with a serious moto burn (note: practically every, single Cameroonian has this scar from a moto exhaust pipe on the inside of their lower-right calf – a right of passage but a painful one!). We finally got there and talked a bit about how to get bees into the Bunderi hives. It was really helpful to be able to discuss the issue in person. We then saw their honey extraction operation. Things were in danger of petering out when we decided to go see Josue’s father’s garden (YES! The program worked out ideally – we agreed the big hives were too far away and we got to see the garden, which is what I wanted to visit anyway). The garden is Eden, a miniature paradise. Period. Djanabo, al-Adji, and, especially, Djanabo’s mom (so cute!!) were so impressed. We spent the afternoon eating ourselves sick on guavas with a few citrons, papayas, pamplemousses, and cucumbers thrown in. A woman gave us some Nigerian peanuts that she had just harvested (literally we picked them off the plants on her head) on the way back – so good. I’m glad I had made us leave the garden when I did because that was just the beginning of our acceuil (I abandoned my notion of biking back to Magdeme that evening pretty quickly). Josue’s wife prepared us a delicious chicken, which was funny because Djanabo had jokingly said to me earlier that we deserved a sacrifice for making it there. We also had more papaya and honey was well. We FINALLY said good bye at 4:30 PM and made it back quickly but JUST made it down the mountain before dark. Our moto was obliged to stop in Oujilla, where the village chief has 54 wives, for a while to wait for the others. But we hung out with an awesome old Podoko farmer who told us about their special millet harvest tradition – no one can cut before the chief of millet and the traditional chief do or they will be cursed. After everyone has harvested, they have a giant celebration. Mountain towns are beautiful – they look like artisan villages, with houses made out of rocks and stone.
Anyway, when we got back to Mora, I was already exhausted but made what I knew would be the mistake of saying we could stop by Fatime’s (Djanabo’s sister) house. We ate fried potatoes and green sauce and wrote the program/invitations for my party (Cameroonians are IN.SANE. about protocol! Djanabo and Fatime literally wrote the invite for half an hour before decided they had to ask a professional. Good thing I consulted them, though!). It was so peaceful, though – sitting out on a mat in the dark, under the stars. That’s how people here pass every night and I”ll miss it. We finally left and then stopped at Kellou’s (Djanabo’s other sister)! Hadja was sick and I thought we were never going to leave. We did leave, though, and I think Djanabo was tired because she let me leave Doulo right away. Great, overwhelming day – the cherry on top of my Djanabo/al-Adji excursions here. Now the holiday and my part and I’m out.
Well…I thought I knew the emotional roller coaster before. I just got back from my going away party…I survived. It was wonderful in that everyone came and the food was delicious. But it was also a bit overwhelming– a little awkward and a little out of body – like I was going through a set of motions. Dance, nassara, dance! And I did! (There were traditional drummers). I’m just so stressed out. I don’t know if I’m more upset about leaving or about not being gone yet. I feel a little leeched and just want to spend my remaining time with my closest friends.
Aye, now it’s all happening too fast. Who’da thought?!
Oof, I haven’t been able to sleep for 2 days. So begins my last full day in Mags. How did this happen?! I went out with a bang in Mora yesterday – frightening level of productivity. Take that! I biked my bike in for the last time, left it at Mont Mandara, closed my project bank account, dropped off my mailbox key, and, wait for it…MET WITH THE SOUS-PREFET (after weeks of trying). He had even done what I had asked him to do for our bee project and I was able to get all of the documents I needed for the successful continuation of the project. Booya! On the way home, I dropped off stuff at Oumate’s, left some paperwork in Tayer, and went by Djanabo’s. Since I am closing my post, I decided to donate all of myt furniture to the health center. So when I got back to Magdeme, the doctor came over to tell me what he wants – almost all of it! Woot! Now I have today to just relax in Magdeme. Goni and I are going to see his dry season millet and then I will hit the market. [Loks and I are back-porch sitting’ in the dark, cold pre-dawn, listening to the call to prayer. So nice].
Oh, quick recount of my latest run-ins with sorcery. The drummers who came for my party have a pretty notorious reputation. You don’t want to make them mad. Fatime refused to pay them an additional 8.000 CFA at her wedding and they cursed her, saying she wouldn’t have children. Since then, she’s had a miscarriage. Later, after my party, we were all sitting outside and you could see a light (like a flashlight) rapidly descending the mountain, too fast for a person in the dark. I can’t say I subscribed to the consensus agreement – sorcerer or the devil – but I admit, it was weird. And let’s put it this way, when the drummers told me to dance or they’d hex us, I danced.
It’s the last night in Magdeme. And I feel…I don’t even know…just sort of numb. But I had the perfect last day in village, including the world’s best guava. I book-ended my time here with a trip to Goni’s farms. Then I hung out in the market and went to Double and the health center to say good bye. Afterwards, I had a meeting with Sajo and Goni to put them in contact for our Magdeme nursery school project. Goni was so encouraged he called Abba Kaka and another man to come listen to Sajo’s ideas. It was a super note to end on. Mal Ali, Yeza, Yeza’s daughther, Kodomi, Goni, and al-Adji spent the evening at my house. Even Goni’s mother came over. That was really tough because she is someone I will probably never see again. Crazy when I think about the kiddos growing up, too, because I won’t recognize them when I come back. But thinking about my dads (Goni and Kodomi) is when I really start to lose it – I don’t want to leave them. This is so weird. Did these two years happen?! I feel out of body right now. Du courage, self.
The Band-aid is off – that hurt.