In Case You Get Bit By a Prostitute…

Children Bar - aka Texaco
This week has moved fairly quickly. Monday was filled with French class, in which mine took a ‘field trip’ to neighbor papa Francois house to learn about his life, and then with classes on the expectations of us health volunteers, followed by more French classes. The topics covered on Monday in our classes were a tad bit more uplifting than the classes we sat through on Friday which discussed the common maladies that volunteers encounter (including malaria, worms, mango flies…etc.). While that particular Friday educational session was a bit scary (we are all now convinced we are getting sick with every bug bite or with every day of abnormal bowel movements), perhaps the most hilarious part of that sessions was listening to the nurse tell us “If you sleep with a prostitute, make sure you have money to pay them! If you don’t, this is how you treat bite wounds from other humans…”. Yes, just use your imagination there.

Anyways, Monday was an uneventful yet insightful day. It rained/stormed all afternoon, so us Bokito folks were cooped inside our small training center near the center of town as Sylvie Ngoumbe, the Health Sector Program Manager, explained the projects that health volunteers partake in. After class, Spencer, Travis, Rachel, Liz and I headed back over to our new favorite bar - that’s right, Texaco, the bar run by children!

Monday is Bokito’s one and only market day. It’s sad. Any day but Monday your food and necessity options are slim, but Monday, all neighboring villages come to sell their stuff! I stopped by the tailor to pick up the two skirts, the dress, and shirt that I had made for me and then headed to the market to take a look around. After thinking for 30 seconds, I bought a $1 1Liter box of Cameroonian red wine. The ingredients? Grape extract, ethanol, water, and sugar. I am sure you can imagine the taste.

After I made my big purchase of the day, we all headed over to Texaco to partake in the only fun activity we do every day - drink and play cards. Everyone order their beers and I tore back the top of my red ethanol and we began what turned out to be a good 10 games of Bull Shit. The ethanol wine really did taste like ethanol, or perhaps a bit more kindly, like straight vodka. While I only continued drinking for its rapid effects, Travis seemed to legitimately enjoy its horrendous taste. After loosing all 10 games of BS, I was again walked home by Travis and Spencer in order to make our 7pm curfew. Chez Moi, I cut green cabbage and carrots for what I (correctly) presumed to be my meals for the next week.

Tuesday was quite uneventful. Us health volunteers got a glimpse of civilization since our classes that day were held in the Bafia Training Center which has wifi! I sadly don’t remember a single thing that was covered in classes on Tuesday. Tuesday night was supposed to be ‘Family Tuesday’, but my host mom wanted to do with none of that. While she was suppose to walk me downtown to center Bokito to show me where to buy shampoo and other necessities, she instead ordered me to grab the carrots that I had cut on Monday from the freezer and cook them. After fumbling with the fire and after several attempts at cooking the carrots the way that momma was ordering me to, I finally finished cooking my lovely meal of…carrots. I ate my carrots with the few sips of palm wine that my momma gave me and then retired to ma chambre.

Yesterday (Wednesday) was spent again in Bafia with all of our stage. What I love most about Bafia is that there is a coffee and beignet break and that lunch (usually my only or my main meal of the day) consists of bean, tomato, and avocado baguette sandwiches. Perhaps the highlight of the entire day was the breakfast sandwich I discovered by accident outside the training center. After being quite famished after my dinner of carrots and my breakfast of a grapefruit, I frantically ran to the shack momma outside the Bafia training center and asked if she had bread to eat. “Yes, I have bread! Do you want bread with nutella and bananas?” she asked me. “Is that even a question?!” I thought to myself! I nearly skipped to training that morning.

The sessions yesterday were led mostly by current Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs) who gave us sessions on diversity among PCVs, how to be an ally, and how to stick up for yourself in cases of unwanted attention and sexual harassment. The final session of the day was our usual French class.

As we waited for our jeeps to arrive to take us back to Bokito, I watched Travis, Val, and Spencer play frisbee with some Cameroonian trainers. One of the trainers wanted to learn how to throw a Frisbee, but alas, on her first throw she tossed the Frisbee right over the training grounds’ fence and into a thorny thicket. Spencer went over to fetch the Frisbee but returned explaining that it was too thorny to reach. I, being the stubborn girl I am, insisted I could prove him wrong. Sadly, after fumbling around in the unbelievably thorny bushes and acquiring more than a dozen slivers on every limb of my body, I came back empty handed. Even after acquiring a stick and a machete, Spencer and I could not find Travis’ Frisbee. Importunely for Travis, the Frisbee was his ‘integration’ tool into the Cameroonian community. With the loss of his Frisbee, I fear Travis will no longer integrate. RIP Frisbee!

All 19 of us Bokito volunteers packed Cameroonian-style into our 2 small Jeeps and headed to Bokito. Travis, Lookman, Layne, Rachel, Kim, Spencer and I all decided to hit up our newfound favorite spot in Bokito - Texaco - until our curfew. After all order our 1L beers we realized that 5 of us were quite hungry. After failing to communicate with the children running the bar for a good 15 minutes, an older man (perhaps the real owner of the bar) arrived. I explained to him that we wanted to order the viper for dinner but sadly the viper was out. As our backup option we chose antelope. 10 minutes later a not-so-piping hot (rather as Lookman liked to explain it, a ‘Piping-cold!) antelope arrived in some mystery sauce. Surprisingly, antelope is not too bad! Rachel and I agreed it tasted pretty much like beef or venison. We drank, played a few games of BS (to which Lookman never caught on to the rules), sang to the Celine Dion songs blasting in the background, and reminisced over the 90s and its TV shows. The gang walked me home after dark given that I’m the one that lives far away from everyone else. We trekked through the mud and passed some children who made wild boar noises at us (to which Travis responded with his own wild boar noises).

When I arrived home, I found that it was only me and Luke, my host dude (cousin). After insisting on washing my muddy feet, Luke confessed his love for me (quelle surprise!) to which I insisted that it was indeed not love. Dinner was 2 eggs given that that is all we have to eat in the house except for frozen goose neck. For reasons unknown, the house is flocked with flying ants which bite this evening. As I cooked my eggs and as I sat on the couch to eat, flying ants came at me and bit me wherever they landed. I quickly made it to my room in hopes to escape their vengeance, but even in my room I was not completely safe. As I now sit inside my mosquito net fortress typing this entry and attempting to quickly recover from my state of tipsy-ness, I find myself continually luring the flying ants to by mosquito net so that they encounter the chemical weapon known as ‘insecticide treated bed net’. Call me a genocidaire, but at least I’ll be sleeping bite-free tonight.


  1. Anonymous29.9.13

    Hi! I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Cameroon 2007-2009. I can totally hear Nurse Ann giving you advice about the prostitute, that made me laugh (is she still there?!). Your stories about training and homestay (and curfew, ugh!) bring back so many (mostly) fond memories. I hope you're having a wonderful time. Please say hi to Sylvie for me, if she's still around as the head of the health program. -Becca Hartog, RPCV Cameroon 2007-2009

  2. Yes! both still work here! I will tell them both you say hello! Thanks for commenting! And yes, curfews suck


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