Sunday, August 26, 2007

Through with Training


I’m sitting in bed writing the night before our swearing-in ceremony where we officially become volunteers and no longer trainees. It feels to me long overdue and while I’m not nervous, the anxiety is sure to come. After the ceremony tomorrow we pack, celebrate, try to get some rest, and the next morning pile all of our belongings into bush taxis and take off. Our belongings, while big and bulky to begin with, have grown since we’ve gotten here. In addition to our two big bags and carry-ons, we now have a bike, a footlocker, a water filter, a mosquito net, a bicycle helmet, and a motorcycle helmet. Thus piling our belongings into a bush taxi and taking off will be a little harder than it sounds. We’ll see how it goes. Plenty before me have figured it out, so I’m sure I’ll be fine.

These last few days have been great as we’ve been experiencing the luxuries in life – fine dining and warm showers. We had to take a trip on Sunday to Yaoundé, the capital, to receive our moving-in allowance and transfer the money to our post. Why couldn’t they just wire the money to our post? We didn’t ask too many questions, as we knew that warm showers and fine dining were in our future in Yaoundé. The Peace Corps transit house has plenty of beds, a hot water heater for each of its three showers, a great collection of DVDs to watch, and a kitchen with appliances and utensils to make just about anything you can’t elsewhere. The kitchen wasn’t really used much as Yaoundé has one of the best selections of restaurants in Cameroon. Some people went for cheeseburgers and french fries, others for Chinese, and some for sushi, but 3 friends and I went to an Indian restaurant. We went all out. We split samosas, fried cheese, and hummus as appetizers, all had entrees, and had a milkshake for dessert. There was, quite randomly, a kiddie park (some type of cross between an amusement park and a playground) right outside so we couldn’t resist getting cotton candy before we left as well. After walking around town for a little bit, we found a boulangerie with Italian gelatti and we filled our already stuffed stomachs just a little bit more. Back at the transit house that night we had pizza delivered. It was literally impossible to wipe the smiles off of our faces. It’s amazing how much we take for granted in a society of instant gratification, but it felt really nice to indulge in those comforts from back home for a solid 24 hours. And while I spent a lot of money by Cameroonian standards, it worked out to about 30 US Dollars.

Can money buy happiness? It bought one day’s worth in Yaoundé. I’ll get back to the goal at hand soon. Sometimes it just feels good to act like an American.


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