Thursday, December 11, 2008

Random Smatterings and Happy Sheep Holidays!

Hola todos!

What is it with me, motorcycles, and Cameroonian holidays?! Yesterday was Tabaski, or la Fête de Mouton, where the Muslim community commemorates the biblical event of Abraham preparing to sacrifice Isaac… until God said, “No no, go grab that sheep instead.” So you better believe I had to put on another too-tight-wonder-from-my-tailor of a skirt, and eat way more mouton than my heart has ever desired! However, instead of burning myself raw this time trying to get on the moto in said skirt, I opted for what 95% of Cameroonian women do—the side saddle ride. I’m no model of coordination, and in spite of thinking I was going to fall right off the moto, I arrived at every sheep-eating festivity intact. This was mainly due to telling the moto drivers “Hakilo hakilo!” “Slow slow!” in Fulfulde. So if I don’t attract enough attention when I put on a full Cameroonian outfit, parade me at 6 kilometers per hour through town, side-saddle on a moto. Guaranteed a good time!

Here’s a few other photos though of what I’ve been up to.

Thanksgiving was sweet—I didn’t have to kill the ceremonial bird! We recruited Brooke’s neighbor Fatty for that chore, for which I was greatly relieved (and thankful!) That’s my first Thanksgiving though, where I’ve heard dinner running around outside (being chased by small children, rather) approximately two hours before eating it. I decided to whip up some hummus, a family favorite, with some special imported chick peas from the regional capital. Somehow, (the peas were rancid, maybe?) it turned out so funny-tasting, that even Brooke’s dog, Winston, wouldn’t eat it. At least Fatty knows how to cook a chicken! Enough boxed wine makes it all go down fine.
Yes, photographed below is the box o’ wine, definitely merited by the occasion. :) Aunt Sue, you better believe the Tony’s you sent me is getting put to good use on that table!! Scary hummus on the right. Brooke’s light was busted, so it was a cozy candlelit theme.

On a non eating-related-holiday topic, Brooke and my predecessor did huge amounts of work during their time in Mokolo on a project to revitalize a local community center. Brooke’s last week in town was spent running around cramming in tasks for the opening of this center (thus all the excited happy faces in the pictures—it had been a long and bureaucratic process!) I’m really excited to have the center as a base for work, a place to teach business classes (hopeful thinking for future projects…), and a non-alcoholic place to meet all kinds of people. Brooke and my predecessor hand-picked the three employees who will work there, so I’ve really enjoyed working with them, and getting pretty hands-on to set up management and accounting systems.
Foos balling with the employees. And yes, that is a Britney Spears poster hanging in the background, despite my objections. Yay, Louisiana.

Yippee!!! (Sweet paint job, huh?)
Brooke, Aboubakar, and Winston the no-hummus-eating dog.
In her last week in town, Brooke went wild around Mokolo with my camera, and you, fair reader get the benefit of the following photos!
Main street, Cameroon.

Grocery shopping anyone? The garlic/condiments aisle.
Your average local butcher, or, advertisement for the Mokolo Vegetarian Society.
Slightly more appealing: a local pagne (fabric) shop, or, what my wardrobe looks like these days.

After bargaining for your fabric of choice, take it to Tailor-man here to leave you looking good.

One of Brooke’s cute neighbors. Check out those knees.

Brooke’s going-away fête. I’ll miss her!

I helped Fleur, our local Frenchie volunteer, with a program the elementary schools put together for World AIDS day (read: chased small children and pinned pieces of paper to their chests.) At halftime of a soccer game, the kiddies paraded onto the field. The letters pinned to their chests spelled out “MOKOLO CONTRE LE VIH/SIDA” … Mokolo against HIV/AIDS. The ABC’s of prevention--Abstinence, Be faithful, and Condoms, were also featured, in the form of 7-year olds wearing the above messages pinned to their shirts. Lastly, came the boy wearing the sign “Dépistage,” or “Getting tested.” As Fleur pinned the sign on cute little Preservatif (Condom), the little girl asked, what does this mean? Hmmmm! Quick thinking, Fleur’s response: “If you use the preservatif, it helps prevent the disease, if you don’t use the preservatif, you are more likely to catch the disease!” Ahh, Sex Ed! Little Dépistage kept running off out of line when we were getting ready for the big half-time show, so I’m calling out “Dépistage, where are you?! …Dépistage, get back here!” I love my job!

Happy holidays to my friends and family, I’m sending my love! Can somebody play in the New Roads gift swap for me, in abstentia? I promise I will bring you back something cool from Cameroon, in 2010. Delayed gratification! :)

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