Saturday, January 19, 2008

Petite Annonce

January 17, 2008, 12:30 am
Wayyy past my Haiti bedtime.

I’m sitting at my computer with 24 internet browser windows open. That’s what you do when you have no clue when your internet is going to cut off and you just found out where you’re potentially going to spend the next 2 + years of your life.

I got my Peace Corps assignment.

I was waiting for the e-mail in my box. Earlier today I’d had my heart-to-heart phone call with my Peace Corps placement officer, while sitting outside on the front steps of Fonkoze, the Director looking for a budget from me. I'd been nervous about the call for most of the week. I cajoled the placement officer into believing that I’m ready to give up a few details of Americana in the big move. She was ultimately quite satisfied and told me she'd send my official invitation (the country assignment!) by snail mail today. Since patience is no strong suit of mine, I negotiated for e-mail and instant gratification instead. When I saw her message tonight, before opening it I tried to give myself a last reassuring pep talk that I could handle and be successful in any country… but instead tore straight into the e-mail.

So the pieces fall together. A dear friend from Clemson there, a New York Times write-up on it, a friend of the family who ended his service there and is violently opposed to the program. The cherry on this sundae of Africana: my next door neighbors here in Haiti—yep, they’re from there too.

It’s the furthest I could possibly be from Louisiana—in both latitude and longitude, hardly even in West Africa. Not even fully French! Part former British, former French colony. There was more than a 50% chance my assigned country would be one in which MCC (my former employer in days of Washington glory) works. Nope. So I’m pushed out of the minimal comfort zone I’d developed in my mind. Good—I won’t be anyone special and I’ll have the typical and classic PC experience. (I would have been sooooo well connected in Mali.)

Loo loo loo loo looooo :) (little typewriter noise)

Here’s a hint. It starts with a C and ends with an Ameroon!!!

I’m assigned to Cameroon!!!!!

Now I actually have to decide upon, confirm, and accept my invitation. I plan to say yes after a few more questions to the placement officer to at least hold my spot. This is exactly what I needed to know before I started any serious discussion about a potential permanent employment with Fonkoze! Time to go to Brazil!!!

(Yes, I am skipping off to Brazil for 10 days. :) I have to make up for having missed Mardi Gras every year since I left Louisiana at age 18. So I get two Carnivals this year: Rio de Janeiro + Port-au-Prince! I should mention I have friends traveling there, one native Portuguese speaking, and a place to stay!! Yippee to making major life decisions on a beach!!)

January 21, 2007

PS - I had my first taste of Haitian Carnival last night--WHOA!! Five minutes from my house, still more than two weeks away from Mardi Gras, this place makes New Orleans Mardi Gras look a semi-civilized town-hall meeting. Streets are PACKED! The music is so loud it shakes the windows of my house and makes my internal organs rattle--no lie--like an unrequested deep-tissue massage. And only two no-thankyou-I-really-don't-know-how-to-dance-like-a-Haitian speeches (more like lots of gesticulating and YELLING!!)


Kristen said...

jeff and i had to go look up where cameroon is on google maps last night! so excited for you! have fun on your trip.

Annie said...

COOL! It's gonna be such a cool experience! :-) I'm excited for ya.

Zenon said...

I'm impressed about your continue effort for moving to Africa! And your blog is quite entertaining. Keep the good sense of humor and stay safe. Greetings from Florida!