The past two weeks (has it been two weeks?) have flown by. After our “hell week” featuring all the acronyms–IEP, TDA, LPI–representing our final exams, we had another week-and-a-half of training until we swore in at the embassy. Although we still had class (in theory), now that exams were over our formateurs were much less strict and open to mid-class errands to the tailor and the boulangerie, which was a nice break from the time intensity of training.
On Wednesday, we woke at 5 am, which is less ungodly now that I normally wake at 5:30 am, in order to don our outfits made of matching stage pagne before the 6 am bus to Yaounde. Why? Because the ambassador had decided to host our swearing in ceremony at the embassy! (He also promised us cheese, fried chicken and salmon, of which none were actually there so Peace Corps consoled us with a trip to a grocery store.) Entering the embassy in a disorienting experience and looking at the acres on acres of groomed landscape, the pool and the flushing toliets, it felt as though I was at some resort town in Florida. (This illusion faded when I accidentally stepped on the photographer’s foot and he responded by asking for my phone number, which I refuse to memorize exactly for this reason, but persistence being one of his virtues (or vices), he found me late to give me his phone number. As my friend phrased it, “it was the moment when you realized you are definitely still in Cameroon.”)
Following the ceremony, we were invited to lunch at the pool area. Mind you, this was not a pool party; instead, we dined around the pool (because formal events must not be too much fun). At least there were cookies.
After leaving the embassy, as volunteers, we were finally now allowed to enter the Peace Corps office. Thus, we were given a tour of both the office and the neighboring case house. (A case house is a house were volunteers can stay while traveling.) We then headed to the grocery store/boulangerie and spent several hours there on the outside stoop as the bus needed to change drivers.
The next morning, after a solid four hours of sleeplessness (between staying up for packing and then trying to sleep without a mosquito net-it’s become somewhat of security blanket at this point), we all left Mengong. Back in Ebolowa, we were split into three different buses, based upon our final destination, and started our journeys to post. I was in the Yaounde bus with the Adamawa squad, which arrived early meaning I was able to eat lunch at a Chinese restaurant, go to another grocery store and take a hot shower (!), all before catching the train north.
After arriving Friday we’ve been at the case house dealing with admin logistics, shopping for our houses, and mostly just relaxing. (Although I could have headed to post by now, because I wanted to spent Thanksgiving with other volunteers it was easier to stay here for a week.) Case living can become monotonous, but not having anything to do for a change has been a nice change of pace. Since arriving, I have been able to climb Mt. Ngaoundere (which I am convinced looks like a boob), visit Lac Tison, run throughout the city, and catch up on reading.
As relaxing as these past several days have been though, I cannot wait to get to post. Expect more updates once I actually arrive!
More importantly, I also have a new address (and a wish list, because my birthday is almost coming up):
Note: Draw crosses and write “Dieu vous regarde” on the outside so people do not open the box. As a bonus, they will also think I am a missionary.
-LETTERS (please write me, I love reading material)!!!
-USB with new good music (It’ll keep me from losing touch with pop culture and will save me when I tire of the music on my ipod).
-Sauce packets, seasonings, spices (Currently a huge fan of pesto)
-Magazines, Books, Coloring books, Origami
And if you are feeling particularly generous:
-Cashews (raw and unsalted)
-Parmesan Cheese (If it is wrapped in that plastic that it comes in at the store, it should be fine. I’ve seen other PCVs with it around the case).
-York Peppermint Patties
-Anything else (I love surprises)