|A Foggy Day...in Lomié Town|
One can draw many parallels between the book series A Game of Thrones and life in Cameroon. For one, the 10 regions of Cameroon are like the different lands in A Game of Thrones. The Extreme North is like the Land Beyond the Wall – off limits for travel if you appreciate your life. Boko Haram is like the mysterious White Walkers. The North is like Winterfell, a land on the edge of the Land Beyond the Wall and nearly off limits itself. The East is like the land of the Dorthraki, a weird, isolated, wild place with mysterious, loud, and derangey people. One might even be able to find similarities between the language of the Dorthraki and the local languages here (the main similarity being that they both sound really ugly and unpleasant). The promiscuity of the men in both A Game of Thrones and Cameroon are also nearly identical.
Besides the obvious parallels between the regions of Cameroon and the regions in A Game of Thrones, I also see parallels between the phrase “Winter is coming” and the fear it brings to the characters in the book series and the phrase “rainy season” here in the East. The East has 4 seasons – A long dry season (December-March), a short wet season (April-June), a short dry season (July-August), and a long rainy season (September-December). The joy of the East is that we are the only region in Cameroon that is dry between the months of July and August, while the rest of the country is submerged in water. Right now we are in the long dry season and all is right with the world, in my opinion. While it gets stifling hot during midday and the dust makes it hard to breath, not to mention it requires me to sweep and mop my floors every day, it is at least dry every day, which means that I can go about my daily business without ever worrying about the weather. I can run when I want to, walk everywhere, buy food at the marché when I want, and sit outside on the platfort on my computer for hours on end. No need for the Weather Channel here because every day is the same.
While I’ve been hearing murmurs about ‘the rainy season coming’ around village, I figured I’d have a few months before I had to even think about the sight of rain. I should’ve known that with my luck in this country, that would not be the case. Yesterday Danny, Grant and I watched all 6 Star Wars movies back-to-back because Danny is a big fan (he wore a t-shirt to prove it), and because I had never seen them. Grant was forced to watch them by both Danny and I because we chose his house as the venue. Lucky him. Grant made us his famous oatmeal, dark chocolate, banana pancakes for breakfast (they did not disappoint) and we snacked on my homemade hummus and carrots and smoothies throughout the day as we watched each movie. Let me tell you, it was quite the pop culture education for me! All day the blinds were closed and lights off as we lived as hermits do. At 4pm I started hearing noises outside and I figured it was one the sound of the many motorcycles that sit in my concession. When we opened the windows to get more snacks, we saw it wasn’t the motos, but thunder. It wasn’t raining, just thundering. Danny and I looked at the sky confused and then at each other. Thunder was something we hadn’t heard in months and it was much unexpected given that it is still mid-dry season.
This morning I woke up to an even stranger sound – rain on my metal roof, and not just rain, a storm! I heard Métis panicking outside my locked bedroom door (he got kicked out at midnight because he wouldn’t stop attacking me in my sleep). I let him in as I peaked outside. It was dark and raining buckets. I checked my clock and saw it was 9am. I’m never allowed to sleep past 6am because the neighbors are so loud, and I realized that my ability to sleep in was because the neighbors couldn’t be outside this morning. As Métis continued to panic during his first rainstorm, I quickly gathered my rain buckets and placed them outside to collect water to clean my house and do laundry. Power was cut and I was left in darkness. Lomié has been covered in a midday nighttime.
I now lay here on my couch surrounded by candles, with Mumford and Sons playing on my laptop, listening to the rain hit the roof and the tropical birds singing their songs of joy off in the distance because worms as thick as your thumb and 6 inches long were coming out of the ground. As I lay here with Métis curled up on my stomach and feeling the cool breeze coming through my windows, I can’t help but to think about how strange my reality is here. It dawned on me that here I am, in Cameroon, which is weird enough, but not only in Cameroon but rather at the end of a dirt path in the rainforest where my life is being dictated by rain. I can’t do anything today; not buy food, not buy phone credit, not do housework, because the storm has cut the power and the roads and paths to town are impassible.
At this moment, life in the U.S. seems like a fantasy – something that someone fabricated in a fantasy book like A Game of Thrones or like Star Wars. My sense of ‘normal’ life in America is really the opposite of my ‘normal’ life here. While in the States I would go about life as usual if it rains, here my life stops. I stop. I lay here, reflect, and think about the bizarre set of circumstances and reasons unknown that led me to join the Peace Corps, get assigned Cameroon, and to choose Lomié. While I’d never think about laying and listening to rain for hours on end in the U.S., here I feel like it may become part of my reality. While the pre-Peace Corps Karen would tire of this activity after a mere 15 minutes, here it is an excuse to think about all that I want to accomplish in Lomié, all the changes I want to make to myself like become more patient, be more flexible, and live simpler, and all that I hope to learn over the next 22 months. While I could spend the rest of the day writing more decent blog posts than this for you to read, I think I might just take this opportunity to live in the moment, gather my thoughts, and appreciate the bizarre reality that is my life.