|Panorama of my house and surrounding area|
Cameroon had Parliamentary elections this past Monday. While I think they were Parliamentary elections, it seems like everyone I asked which elections were taking place, nobody seemed to know. Even my host mom, who spent all Monday setting up the voting place and monitoring the elections and who works for the government, didn’t seem to be able to give me a straight answer. Anyways, due to the elections, which in themselves are a rarity in Cameroon, all Peace Corps stagiers and volunteers were put into lockdown mode from Saturday after our morning classes to Tuesday morning.
Saturday was spent in language classes at the Bokito training center. I had one heck of a cold which prompted me to be constantly carrying around the very fashionable pink toilet paper here to use as my makeshift Kleenex. Drugged on menthol lozenges and other mystery meds in my medical kit that are used to treat colds, I was barely present for our French class. After French we received training on repairing our bicycles. We had a practice session which taught us to take off tires, take out the inner tube, and replace/fix chain links. My group included Rachel, Spencer, and I. While Rachel and I seemed to not struggle with too much, Spencer, of course, managed to break the bike chain irreparably. Rachel and I tried to remedy the problem, but he did a really good job at breaking it. I feel bad for the stagier who’s bike we practiced on.
After our practice session we finally got our bikes. I got one of the shiny new, beautiful black bikes. While I’m excited I got one of the new ones, apparently it makes me more likely to be a victim of bicycle theft. Well, I win some and I loose some, I guess. All the group found their bikes except for poor old Spencer, who failed to send in his bike size to Peace Corps headquarters weeks before we got to Cameroon, and therefore, he is missing his bike.
After our bike training, a few of us decided to break the rules and not go straight home for lockdown. Knowing that it was going to be a few days before we saw each other again, we all wandered downtown. Spencer, Ampson, Rachel and I headed to the tailors to pick up my clothes I had made and to get Ampson measured. After that we hit of few of the shack boutiques so others could stock up on chocolate, soda, and for me, toilet paper for me to blow my nose with all weekend. Downtown Bokito was like a ghost town for being a Saturday afternoon. There was a lack of fruit being sold street side and hardly anyone was walking around at all.
Still intent on not parting our separate ways, our group headed to Baby Bar and were greeted by the usual gaggle of children bartenders. We ordered our beers and grenadine sodas and played several games of Spades before we feared we might get caught breaking our lockdown rules. After Rachel and Ampson left, Spencer and I walked to our favorite soya (street meat) vender. The vender had his usual mystery meat (beef?) on skewers in the onion and garlic mystery marinade. Being the crappy vegetarian that I am and knowing that I was getting no lunch or dinner because my mom was out of town, I ordered my own 20 cent skewer of delicious, juicy, warm, and flavorful meat. It was then that we decided to part ways and head home for election lockdown.
Saturday afternoon was spent getting to talk with my mom on the phone and then spent sleeping, playing Rollercoaster Tycoon, watching 50 First Dates, and texting Spencer as he read the fourth Harry Potter book. Sunday was not much different. Sunday evening I met my host mom’s siblings who came in from Yaoundé to attend a funeral with my host mom for the whole day. Sunday evening I helped shell pistachios (which look more like sunflower seeds) for hours on end in front of the TV with my aunt and grandma while we watched Angola vs. Mozambique female basketball. Monday was spent much similar to Sunday. After washing my bedroom floor, doing my laundry, watching the voting take place at the Place des Fetes next to my house, and reorganizing my room, I decided to hang up my Cameroonian flag and do some much needed dancing barefoot around my bedroom to familiar American music to expel some of the boredom. Later in the afternoon all of Aliene’s children came by (Aliene is the one that went out to the bar with me and momma Therese my first night in Bokito). I gave each of her four kids three fake tattoos. They loved it. Later I sat down with grandma on the porch and helped her peel manioc leaves from the stems. The leaves will be used to make one of my favorite African sauces: manioc leaf sauce!
After retreating to my bedroom to escape the heat, I heard widely loud thunder and not long after, the strange phenomenon occurred of hearing the rain approach from miles away. I ran outside and gathered my clothes that were drying on the line in front of the house and when I made it back to the veranda, the rain struck with a vengeance. I made myself some rice to have with leftover coque sauce (I have no idea what coque is, but they tell me its made with the leaves of some vegetable). As I now lay in my mosquito net fortress listening to Coldplay, I’m more excited than ever to see my friends tomorrow and return to school!