18 July 2006


e 1 juillet 2006

And for once I write this real-time. As you're reading, France may
have claimed victory over Brazil...or not...I don't care, I'm still
riding high on Tuesday's beautiful match against Spain. Nationalisic

(**edit, 16 July 2006 - so France lost to Italy in penalty kicks, and Zizou lost control of his head (literally). I'm still exuberantly proud of the matches vs. Spain, Brazil, and Portugal. Vive la France!)

Months march on without regard to days. Travel could be a part of
that. And...no more snakes.
Last week was a PC collaboration in Makak (yes). The PCV there
held a sports camp for 35 kids, ages 10-18ish, and the South, ever
eager for work, went to help. It's a curriculum, Sports for Life,
that uses soccer (*real* football) o teach about HIV/AIDS -
transmission, prevention, goal-setting, stigmatisation, etc, etc.
Then every afternoon there was a match. ..The week was good, hard, exhausting, frustrating, and rewarding. And I will write more but I've completely lost that train of thought.

Le 14 juillet 2006

Afternoon of indulgence and one froisséd piece of paper. Three errands – strike 2 – and enough deranging to make me want to start elbowing the men who touch me. Basta.

Off to the salon de thé (dit "la France") where I bought Skittles (but there are NO M&Ms in this country), Trix, cat food, and pears. Now for lemonade (1500) and a crèpe (vive la France!) On my own national holiday – in honor of which I decided to go register to vote – I forgot that the Embassy would, of course, be closed.

Middle American family one table over – mom, dad, 3 kids – missionaries?

Yaoundé needs to be more than grocery stores and DVDs. A lot of work accomplished ce matin, though – starting at 7:30 am. Yesterday, 6:30.

The waitresses here are dressed much like they would be at Sonic (took me 15 minutes to remember the name).
Waiters are wearing bow ties and black vests. Amazing fresh lemonade. Everything fresh here – we made hummus, tabouleh, salsa, and tortillas last night.
In the States, will I go back to buying tortillas, pita, salsa, guacamole, hummus…well, it's cheaper. Here I can get a few avocadoes for 100F (20 cents).
There – well. People tell me sodas are better here – real cane sugar, as opposed to high fructose corn syrup – but I don't remember.

Anecdote, appropriate. A PCV friend recently went to Paris (where she incidentally saw my aunt). In a nice restaurant, she ate fish with her hands (it makes so much more sense! Can't go back) and spit the bones on the floor.

PCVs aren't uncouth, we're just…integrated.

This family could be at Denny's. It's weird.

Saw the new PCTs yesterday. So young (ok most older than me, but young in Cameroon terms), fresh, enthusiastic. And
clean. They are also Ed/SED, or PCVs with "jobs."

This might be the best club I've ever joined (PC, then RPCVs).

A list of observations, as I'm not
pose enough to write linear narrative.


gas here is the equivalent price in USD. Now compare average Cameroonian salary to average US salary.
Now imagine gas costing $20, $25 /gallon. Taximen turn the engine off when doing downhill.

World Cup/Olympics should be in a developing country. This was discussed last night, and I think it's intriguing.
Outside sponsors would be needed. But it would force corrupt governments to improve (create?) infrastructure, roads, electricity, water, etc. It would help the economy and boost tourism.
And make the 3rd world more part of the world. And Cameroon has mountains, rivers, ocean..

South Africa is hosting the 2010 World Cup (to which I was invited by one of my neighbors) but we here in PC Cam mockingly refer to South Africa as "the Western world."
There is Peace – harder – Corps than this. But not by very much.

Need to buy a phone card sometime. It gets tiring to be contactable.

The 15-year-old daughter of a family I know well is pregnant. I found out a month ago from a list of absences/pregnancies posted outside the lycée—I was afraid to go see her to confirm it.
And it's true, it's true. I don't know how she managed to –not- show in her tight jeans and shirts (she's beautiful and she knows it. This is something I've feared happening for awhile.
In the States would I hate myself for assuming that someone's appearance could cast aspersions on their behavior? Maybe. But here, there seems to be more truth to that.
And the consequences are a hell of a lot more dire). She's huge now. Her mom – a colleague of mine at the hospital, said she's taught her to calculate her cycle.
She brings home condoms and has taught her how to use them. And yet.

She – the daughter – is smart, dynamic, and eloquent. She recited a poem about SIDA (AIDS) at the fête de la jeunesse, in February (was she pregnant even then? Maybe).

I just got undercharged by 1500 for the first time in my life here (undercharged). Happy Bastille Day, indeed. The manager/owner – Greek guy – just came over and asked me for suggestions, how I liked the place, what he could change, do better, etc. Did he come talk to me because I'm young, white, and female (and alone)? Yes. Did he reduce the price? Wondering. Ahh…Greeks in Cameroon. There are a lot, for some reason.

17 July 2006

Jenny in the News

Jenny sent a link to an article about Cameroon in the Baltimore Sun: Monkey meat and its hazards. She mentions some highlights:

  • (well, i'm in it, oh, and credited) [in the slideshow/gallery]
  • old man sitting in bed is the chief of akam
  • man holding goat, about to slaughter it, is my house guardian, joel
  • house pictured with boots in front - that's my friends marthe and joel's house
  • church, other shots of village - that's all akam (and literally, that's about *all* of akam)
  • truck overloaded with cocoa on the road? that was on the way back to mvangan; we got delayed about half an hour there
  • (turn the captions on for the slideshow; it helps)
  • pangolin on the tree? good stuff.
  • mat (lebreton) "trekking through the forest"? that's about 20 feet behind the project house

Check it out!

15 July 2006


Waaaaaay down South

(It’s true; there’s only one PCV in country who’s further south than I am)

*an article I just wrote for our environmental education newsletter. And keep in mind that these are the rantings of a *former* vegetarian...*

Mvangan is a village of 2000 people in the South province, about 50 km from the natural border with Gabon. It’s both the seat of the arrondissement and the seat of the health district (I’m based at the district hospital), but being in the South province, there are few people, little infrastructure, and few income-generating projects going on. The main economic activities are cocoa farming and bush meat hunting.
So….what’s in the South…besides the beautiful equatorial rainforest, the childhood home of Paul Biya, the Bulu, several land/animal reserves, KRIBI, and Ebolowa, provincial capital and “gem of the South”? Well, there’s a lot of bush meat. And I know bush meat used to be the buzzword (and only word…) of EE, but it’s true – bushmeat and manioc are the staple foods in the South province. And that in itself provides a lot of Health/EE opportunities, but for now…I’ll focus on bush meat…and its new, lovely, photogenic alternative – the cane rat.
And it tastes like chicken. (awww)(….dinner!)
Through a partnership with Heifer International, Peace Corps is funding cane rat training for farmers in several provinces. Two planters from my village are attending two weeks of cane rat training this month, with training and progenitors (one male and three females – rodent polygamy). As I recently completed two hours of cane rat training [with the (currently) sole raiser of cane rats in the South province], I consider myself an unqualified expert who can tell you everything you ever wanted to know about cane rats but never thought to ask.
First, why cane rats? (besides that they taste like chicken)
Cane rats are also called aulacodes or herissons in French. Similar to guinea pigs (calico-colored, overgrown hamsters? Yep, they’re good food too), they look like a cross between rats, rabbits, and hedgehogs. One cane rat can fetch as much as 15.000 F CFA at the current market rate – this meat is pretty special. Cane rats are easy to domesticate, are relatively cheap to feed (grass, anyone? Little bit o’ manioc and corn?) and being polygamous, reproduce at a fantastic (for the breeder) and alarming (for the mother) rate. One female cane rat, after a gestation of 5 months, can have a litter of 2 – 15 furry little drumsticks…
And that’s probably more than you ever wanted to know.
But. Introducing and promoting alternative sources of protein to bush meat (and this can also include plants like soy and moringa) can a) help reduce hunting pressure on wild species 2) add protein to the diet by having more consistent sources available (yay health!) and 3) provide an excellent income-generating activity for your community. And this will hopefully tie into future/in-the-planning nutrition animations in the community. The Bulu are traditionally hunters, and meat = pride. Introducing non-animal forms of protein is an uphill battle, but worth the challenge.