11.23.2013

I'm a Big Girl Now (Swearing In and Moving to the East)

Health Group!




Well, it’s official! I’m moved on from being a Peace Corps Trainee to a Peace Corps Volunteer! In other words, I’m a big girl now! Wednesday morning began with me catching a ride to the US Embassy in Yaounde to grab some breakfast before we headed off to the new Peace Corps Cameroon office. The US Embassy was extremely nice. The grounds were extremely nice and included a swimming pool! After downing some granola and yogurt and a fake vanilla latte, we loaded in our coach bus and arrived at the brand new Peace Corps office which will open in a few months.

Liz(Central Adamawa) rocker her
braids and I (East)
At 10:30 the ceremony began. Our group sang Peace Train, some of our language teachers preformed a song, and speeches were given by the Peace Corps Country Director, the Deputy Ambassador, the Minister of Public Health, and the Minister of Youth. Four hours later, the ceremony ended and everyone met with their host families for our grand lunch of Cameroonian food. I talked with my host mom a bit – actually, I had more conversation with her than I have all 10 weeks I lived with her – and when we finished we all packed our bags and headed to Bafia for our post-swearing in party.

The Bafia party commenced at 8pm with music and dancing. Near 10pm there was an attempted break-in, first in my room but my ‘What do you want?’ scared him off before he walked all the way in. However, that was not the case for another volunteer, who had the spare key to her room taken from the front desk and had her room broken in to, but thankfully he was immediately scared away once he realized the room was not empty. After much debriefing and such, the party was shut down at midnight but it continued with groups just hanging out in their rooms late into the evening. I spent the night with a bad stomach flu, but at least I was able to hang out in my room all night with Spencer, Liz, Rachel, Ludi and Cody – my favorite people ever!

Waking up the next morning was awful. I knew that today was the day that I had to say goodbye to my best friends as we each departed for our respective regions. Spencer and I walked down to mama Geiselle’s boutique for breakfast – me with my chocolate banana sandwich for one last time and him with an avocado, bean and tomato sandwich, most of which ended up on the table and on his shirt rather than in his mouth. Our group milled about at the Bafia training center and everyone loaded the three buses to the Northwest, Southwest and Yaounde. I was in the Yaounde group along with all those headed to the Grand North and East.

Ludi, my Pidgeon Southwest Azonto girl, and I
After a few hour bus ride, we arrived to Yaounde. I was seriously ill and still on med hold so I slept as everyone else ate Chinese and ran some errands. When I woke up I went quickly to the doctor who officially took me off my 10 day med hold and cleared me to leave for the East the next morning. I got in the cars headed to the train station with those headed to the Grand North and said my goodbyes to Spencer, Rachel, Liz, Alexi, Hannah and Ampson and all my other favorite people headed to the wild wild North. I was a crying mess!

I went back to the case, packed my things, ate some ice cream and went to bed to get fully rested before the long journey East the next day. Friday morning Matt, Lauren, Kim and I got in our luxurious depoted bus, which cost us a pricey 200USD and headed to Bertoua. Our bus was empty since we bought every seat in a 30 seater bus just for the four of us, so we each had our own row – something that is unheard of here. Halfway through our 7 hour journey we arrived in Matt’s town of Abong Mbong, which is literally a truck stop, and unloaded our things. After unloading our stuff, we got back on the bus and continued to Bertoua. Before Abong Mbong the landscape changed from the somewhat forested Centre region to an extremely rainforested, hilly, and poor region of the East. But as we approached Bertoua the landscape changed for more savannah like. It’s gorgeous and the dirt here is blood red.

Spencer, my favorite person in the world, and I
We arrived at the adorable Bertoua case which is basically a cute little house on a nice little property. Bertoua is just fantastic! It’s a very clean city with absolutely everything you could need. Bertoua is an interesting mix of Southern and Northern culture so it has Southern culture with the benefits of the non-derange-yness of the Fulfulde-speaking Northern Muslims. Honestly, Bertoua is just beautiful, clean, well-stocked, and manageably large. We spent the evening enjoying beers, or in my case a whiskey cola, and poisson braise (but I passed on the fish, although it looked delicious!)

Saturday was spent buying all kinds of goods for my house in Lomie which I have yet to visit. I got a nice automatic gas stove top, a mattress, all kinds of kitchen supplies, pagne to make awesome bed sheets with, and I’m still in search of a gas tank and fridge. After a successful day of shopping, Matt, Lauren, and I bought a whole chicken, had it chopped up right in front of us and grilled immediately to perfection. I have no idea which parts of the chicken I ate, but it was delicious! We sat down and devoured our chicken as we sipped on our pineapple banana smoothies, listening to Chadians speaking Fulfulde around us. Life in the East is not so bad at all! I’m here in Bertoua for a week to continue buying things for my house and to celebrate Thanksgiving. Next Friday I move to Lomie, and I can’t wait! I can’t believe this is the start to my two years of service. It’s extremely intimidating but outrageously exciting. I’m reading to see what Lomie and the East have to bring me and all that I will accomplish. Je suis la!
The Group Headed East!
Lauren (Diang), me (Lomie), Matt (Abong Mbong), Kim (Batouri), and Mayra (Messamena)

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