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Alright, these are all out of order. I am not devirused, but I tricked my flash drive into letting me use these pictures.

Here is my haul from a market day. From the top: the houe/torture device - 2000 cfa/ 4 dollars. tzo pineapples for about 80 cents, onions for 60 cents, garlic for 60 cents, prunes for 40 cents, black beans for 40 cents, white beans for 60 cents, potatoes for a dollar, guavas for 40 cents. All seems rela cheap, right? But we don't get paid in dollars, and nor do Cameroonians. Nonetheless. Bounty.

This is my rad caba. Feast your eyes on the wonder that is a neon cupcake dress. I feel like the happiest giant five year old when I wear it.

This is me and my muscle, and the compost pit that took me 4 hours to dig, and a week to recover from digging. Darn that houe. My hamstrings look great though.

Here is my host family in Bangangte, the morning of swearing in, and my departure from chez eux.
From left, mon pere Jean, mon frere/cousin Cedric, mon frere/cousin Jores, ma soeur/cousine Anna, mon frere Valdes, ma Mere Berthe, in the front mon frere Joel, et moi.

Here is a crazy looking moth on the outside of my house, n'est-ce pas? I see lots of rad moths. Like the cheeto moth. I'll save that one for another time. When I have a picture of it.

Here is my living room. To the left, the guest room & my room. To the right, the mini-door into the kitchen, and after that, the mini-door into my bathroom.

Here is my little house! The two-thirds on the left is mine, the third on the right is where Jane lives. America garden on the left, Cameroon garden on the right

Agros on swearing in day! With Christina, our tech trainer in the front, and Tiki, our APCD on the right.

The view from my front porch. Those pointy roofs mean that someone special lives here, I think. All the chefferies have roofs like that, but so do other places. I still have many things to learn.

Love love love!!!!!
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Bonne Année, mes amis! That is a happy new year to you!

TO everyone who has left a comment or sent me an e-mail, you are super! Gosh! It is nice to have even a little pixel contact to home. Hi hubby! Hi Georgia & Monte! Hi Gail & Grady! Hi LJ! Hi Mom & Dad! Hi Barby & Dave!

Alright. Let's recap, shall we? I haven't written this up beforehand, so my thoughts may be a little scattered, but darn if i'm not getting dece at typing on a french keyboard!

Christmas. Had mes amis Henry and Christina over. I drew a christmas tree on paper and put it up on the wall. We had arts and crafts time and made ornaments. Dinosaur in a santa hat? check. Andy warhol lady in a wheelchair? check. Pretty poinsettas? check. We made pizza, and banana pancakes, and burritos, and we ate lots of cheese and olives and cake. So, if you are worried about me starving, please don't. If you're worried about my access to cheese, please do.

I also had to faire some protocol in Christmas, which meant a lot of awkwrd sitting and waiting. Met the Sous-Prefet. Seems like a guy. His house is ginormous! Well, at least the living room. He is the authority probably the biggest in town besides the Chef of course. His living room had 2 TVs, 17 easy chairs and 5 couches. Yup. But they still do laundry and dishes by hand in buckets, and cook over a 3 stone fire. Cameroon is just full of contradiction.

On the way to Bafoussam this AM saw a girl in a pink satin dress carrying a bundle of logs on her head. This did not strike me as odd. Everyone here carries logs on their heads. And everyone wears some wacky stuff. Absolutely normal. And yet, when I put it into words, or America context, i find myself... a little baffled.

So, Christmas, big WIN. In fact now, as I sit in the cyber cafe there is an 8-bit electronic christmas soundtrack playing from somewhere. It has been for the last hour. No signs of letting up. Feels like home?

On another day this week I went with Marie Noelle to Bameka to see a baby and meet a farmer who is part of a GIC i may work with. The baby was just darn-tootin adorable, maybe a month or two old. Her hair was so soft, and she could grab my fingers like a champ. Sat in the mud brick kitchen holding the baby and listening to Marie and the baby-mama and her mom and her mom's mom, and an old guy who showed us to their house all talk in Nguemba. It was nice to be around people. The man was bilingual ( well, trilingual if you want to get specific), so we parler-ed un peu in english. Some more peeps showed up and then it was time for lunch. Couscous de mais and cuille. Oh cuille.

Let me devote a paragraph to cuille. I hear that there are foreigners who like this dish. Good for them. Cuille is a gelatinoform, mucilaginous being that one serves by pouring through your hand and then cutting off by closing your thumb and forefinger around it. You take a piece of couscous, which is like cornmeal mush, and wrap it up in cuille, twist it off and pop it in your mouth. If you're coordinated. Or if you actually want to put it in your mouth. Marie told a HILARIOUS story of another volunteer who tried to wrap the couscous raditionally by tossing it and tossed it right onto his head. Ha ha ha ha ha. I began to wonder if accidentally tossing this might be a good way to get through it. Now don't get me wrong, the taste of cuille is alright. It is the texture. People describe it as snot-like, but it is much more viscous. Like egg-whites with a vengeance. I find myself gagging at each bite. When I finally get through an acceptable amount, I try to wash my hands. Ha. Water does nothing but create a slimy goo all over my hands. I resort to wiping it on my hands.

But. To refuse food is rude. Pretty much when you show up at someones house, you can't expect to leave without getting fed.

Anyway. We walked out to the farm, it looked pretty rad, they are digging a canal system to keep it watered in the dry season. The guy talked to me a lot about things. I'll be honest, I pick up maybe a quarter of the words people are saying. Sometimes I think I can piece together the general idea of the sentence, but this could just be me imposing my ideas about what they might be saying onto their words. I know, I know, I need to be more pro-active, ask them to repeat themselves, even if it takes 5 times. But. Gosh it's hard. Sometimes I feel like I've taken an oath of silence, I speak so little and when I do, I am never sure that I am saying what I mean, and it is usually pretty simplified.

Right-o. So we leave Bameka, return to Bamendjou. I greet the chief the wrong way. He doesn't seem offended, but Marie is a bit aghast. You can't just WAVE at the Chief! We go to see a woman who is en deuil, in mourning. We pass a woman's group. They are nice in their matching dresses. One of them gives me a big ignam (yam like tuber). We continue on to chez le Widow. We sit in the dark kitchen. She is upset, and disheveled. Marie explains to me that sometimes when you are in mourning you do not clean, you do not wash your hands, change your clothes. We are given food. I get another ignam to take home. I've also received a lot of beans today, from Marie and the baby-mama's gramma.

Exhausted. Next day, I check to see if my moringa seeds have germinated. Score! 7 out of 11! I make a little pepiniere, just 30 polypots, nothing fancy like sand or manure, just dirt and seeds.
Still waiting to see if any of my pansies or sage or cilantro will come up. Oh wait, yes, the pansies are beginning to! Seeds, plants, wow, what a miraculous thing, eh?

Monday night I am pretty sick. I won't go into details, but let your truly awful imagination run wild. Tuesday I feel like I have been hit by a truck. I take three naps. Make some Gatorade (thanks Nura!), and shaking it up feels like I have just walked 20 miles. EXHAUSTED.

Luckily Wednesday I am better. The good thing about being exhausted is that I have been sleeping through the night. Maybe there are less sounds. Maybe I feel a little safer? Maybe it is just exhaustion.

Wednesday. I try making foccaccia, in my grande marmite. How does one bake without an oven, you might ask? Take a giant pot. Put some little cans in the bottom, enough to support whatever pan you are baking in. Put said pan of baked goods on cans. Close lid to giant pot. Cook. I have successfully made cake here, even! Gosh. The foccaccia turns out alright, nothing special beyond fresh baked bread-iness. I try to do some handstands against the wall, to decent result. I do some yoga outside in the sun. I try to do an Ultimate TaeBo video, but I am laughably uncoordinated. I spend some time dancing around like a spaz.

Gosh, so it sounds like I'm not getting a lot of work done, huh? You're right. I have this concern, too. Well. It's slow going. I've been looking through a lot of Nura's old project materials, writing things on a big to-do list on the wall. What I really need to do is get out, and meet some more people.

One of the priests, he is anglophone, is going to show me around to some schools soon. That will be good. He is very nice. When I left the church (aka cyber cafe) the other day I saw one of the other anglophone priests I have met. He is joking around with a few kids, and he has an infectious laugh. He says, "they asked me why I am so big, I told them it is because I have eaten a whole pig!" and he breaks down into laughter again.

I get asked a lot here what my religion is, what church I go to. I respond that I am a free-thinker, une penseur libre. This doesn't really satisfy anyone. The catholic church is a huge presence in my town. I am not really big for religion, as you may know, and there is a part of me that worries the church is just another part of the Western machine that is eating Africa alive... but i feel like the church in Bamendjou is really a good influence. It is hard to say because I am barely a drop of water on the top of an ocean of culture, which is to say via dramatic metaphor, I don't know what is going on around me. But. They sure are nice there.

Anyway. New Years Eve. I think I might go buy some jam, maybe some pants. I love you all!

Bonne Année!

PS: to add to my ever-growing care package wish list: Emergen-C. western africa bird book.

PPS: just read Eat Love Pray. Great book. Makes me want to drop everything and travel across the world in a quest to find myself... oh wait.