Thursday, 27 August 2009

Welcome to my Cameroon blog!

As suggested by my good friend Emily, I am going to make my very first blog- mostly so I don't have to try to email everything and so that more people can read about my experience. The only rule is that you need to email me! I actually get a lot more internet than I thought, so I'd love to hear from you (or even talk to you on skype!) so please write. Ok, so here goes!

(Oh! I think all of you probably know, but in case you don't- I'm engaged!!!! To Derek Rupe, love of my life :-) And the wedding I think is May 22nd!)

(This first section is going to be basically the first email I sent out, so if you got that one, you can just skip to the next one.)
So pretend this one is dated August 23, 2009

I'm in Yaounde, Cameroon! (That's West Africa- on the coast, right above the equator, in the little armpitlooking notch)

I flew out on Thursday night (20th) and arrived here in Yaounde on Friday night. ( For those confused, I'm student teaching in Cameroon at the American school of Yaounde- ASOY-for 3 months!) I've been staying the weekend in the teachers' apartments, but I'm moving into the boarding house on Monday. Planning is this week, and school starts next Monday! To summarize, I'm having a GREAT time. I was really nervous on the way here, but since I've been here its been so great. All the teachers here are sooooo nice and have been taking really good care of me. This is my second full day and I feel like I've already seen and learned so much. I think all of the teachers except for 1 have either taught as this school before or have lived in Cameroon for one reason or another even if they are new to the school. So I'm definately a newbee- seeing as I only went to Jamaica once, and I've never taught :-)

The Cameroonian culture is really cool. We're in the "city" although it doesn't really feel like a city to me because there are barely any big buildings. But it isn't very safe, so I guess that's a similarity. But it is crowded, and its also a new experience to be the minority. Oh ya, I don't know any French, so that's interesting too! I can't even write all the things I've learned about, like just basic living stuff- don't drink the water, don't go anywhere without a copy of your passport, but not the real thing because the police will take it and bribe you, don't leave your clothes out after dusk or else flies will lay eggs in them and then you'll get maggots in your skin, lock everything....

Ok, I'll summarize what I've done so far:
I went out shopping for food and essentials with another teacher, saw some of the "grocery stores," listened to a lot of people speaking french and exchanging money that I don't really know anything about, went swimming in my director's pool and got kinda stuck in a torrential downpour (its the rainy season here), had a Cameroonian meal cooked by one of the teacher's helpers, went out to my first real Cameroonian restaurant and had fish and chicken and plantains and this chewy white starch stuff, lost power in the restaurant but that's normal I guess, drove around town to find a cabaret (dance club) and got a flat tire so had to change it, and got up early this morning and hiked/walked up this really long hill that everyone runs up in the mornings on the weekends.

Observations: I live in the wealthiest part of the city and there's still people living in abandoned buildings and planting crops in random small pieces of land- which is really sad. There are a good amount of embassy people here, so they are all really wealthy. Every once in a while you see a bullet proof hummer or escalade, which is really quite different than the crappy cars everyone else drives around. I know that I am wealthy compared to people here, but it does kinda stink to be grouped in with all white people. I guess the biggest difference I notice is that, although I feel very safe at the school and with the people here, there isn't a general feeling of safety for anyone. The government is corrupt and the police are corrupt too, so one of the main concerns you have is getting IDed by a policeman and possibly getting thrown in jail. This also means there isn't really a crack down on theft and everything, so everyone has their own guards. This apartment and the school are all guarded 24/7 and have barb wire and walls all around. Even people with their own homes all have guards. Well, I guess just the richer ones do. Oh, another thing, the school recommends that the teachers all get cooks and maids- not because they really need them, but because so many people depend on being employed like that, and teachers can afford it here, so they all pretty much have a "servant" kinda. which is weird, but I guess its really to help out the people. It does make me feel a bit uncomfortable though.

Ok, hope this gives you a little picture of what I'm doing!
Miss you all,

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