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Productive Day!!

Waking up today was much the same as everyday. I sleep in as long as possible, because it is inconceivable that there is anything more comfortable than my bed. Today, this meant getting up at 9. What a lazy bum I am!

I made a cup of coffee, hoping it would spur me to productivity, or at least deter me from complete sloth. I started downloading a yoga podcast, but this meant I couldn't use the internet for fun and games. What's a girl to do? I finished translating Marcel's work report to send to the EWB. While I understood the report in French enough to get a general idea, translating it into a workable English document was a little more difficult.

As I was finishing up with the translation, I hear a knock on the door and Marie-Noelle's strident voice. I threw on a skirt (somehow short spandex shorts are not appropriate dress here) and answered the door. Shoot, I forgot that she wanted me to go to a meeting today.

She tells me the meeting is now. I have barely got pants (skirt) on and I haven't eaten breakfast or prepared anything for the meeting. I tell her that I have to finish this report before I can go, and ask how long the meeting goes. She says, "Just until 2." (It is now 10:30). I tell her I will try to make it before the end. She says, "Come by 1," and looks disappointed as she leaves. Fair enough, I've kind of bailed on her a lot of times. By kind of I mean actually.

Once inside I look at the report that I have all but finished translating and realize that I have a golden opportunity to actually do some work. And then there is some combination of caffeine, guilt, excitement and having used up all the fun the too-slow-for-streaming-video internet can provide me. I grab my flip chart paper (twice flooded), a box of markers, my tech manual and I whip up a 3-flip chart Intro to Agroforestry presentation. I write out everything I want to say in French, just in case. I make a quick spaghetti-eggs (I'm actually shaking from caffeine, roops!). I change into something more presentable (pajama shirt soooo comfy).

And I walk out the door! And towards the center of town. And behind the Sous-Prefecture. And into a meeting!

It turns out that it is kind of a political meeting and we are in the (unfinished) RDPC building (yes, that is Paul Biya's party). There are three women sitting up on a raised platform, and 8 other women sitting on a bench facing them. (I hear there are normally 25-30 women; my nerves are glad for the low attendance). The president welcomes me and introduces herself. I go around and shake everyone's hands. Everyone goes around and introduces themselves. Each woman is a representative of a different women's group in the area (Bamendjou-Bameka-Bahouan-Batie). I introduce myself un peu. I ask the president if after the meeting I can have 5 or 10 minutes to make a little presentation. She says, "No, it's important, let's do it now."

So I tape up my flip-charts and a little unsteadily make it through my teeny-tiny introduction. They get my "teach-a-man-to-fish" saying and metaphor. After I finish and sit down, the President re-says the majority of the presentation in a much louder voice for the lady who is deaf in one ear. Oops! I remembered to speak slow, but not loud! Marie-Noelle adds a few points that I didn't include. I answer a few questions from the President. She asks what my work plan is. I tell her that if anyone is interested, I can go out to their farm and assess the problems and work with them to use agroforestry interventions. I tell the group I can also go to each of their groups and do formations.

The President thanks me and asks me to come back to do another presentation at next months meeting. She says I can go, and I don't even have to stay for any boring meeting! Yaaaay. We all thank each other and I walk home feeling pretty groovy.

When I get home I decide to plant more of my garden (now there are carrots, broccoli and onions in the ground!) and I clear some brush I left in the path a few months ago. Roops.

Delicious oatmeal. Some internet time. I look up recipes that use wilted lettuce as I've certainly got some. I find some recipes for lettuce soup that look interesting and doable. I get my lettuce out only to find that it is beyond the state of wilt. It has moved firmly into the state of slime. I guess I'll try lettuce soup next time I let my lettuce get past its prime (but not too far past).

My eggplants and cucumbers are starting towards the point of prime-past-ness, so I decide to cook those. I make my favorite eggplant recipe, yum yum, but I quadruple it because I have 4 aging eggplants. It takes a lot longer to cook. But it is the best! You can find the recipe on my Zara Cooks in Cameroon blog here: http://cameroonzaracooks.blogspot.com

What else is going on?

Yesterday was a little eventful. I walked out of my front gate to go buy some bread, but there was a huge crowd standing in the road, and several vans. Jane is there and I ask her what is going on. She tells me that everyone is there for Alice's funeral, and I notice the coffin strapped on top of the van. With some bananas and a spare tire. Alice used to sell veggies next door to my house, but she left a few months ago, I think she was sick and pregnant. I just found out that she died a few weeks ago. This is a major bummer. She was one of my few "friends" around town. And beyond my selfish reasoning, she had 7 kids. Her husband is sick too. I don't know what she died of.

So. Crowd. Vans. Still life with coffin and bananas on van. The vans fill and take off and the crowd stays and chats. Jane screams a little and I turn and see what has scared her. A teeny-tiny fluffball of an unsteady-on-its-legs kitten. I pick it up and scratch its head. "They just look so gross," Jane says. Huh. I've never heard that response to a kitten before! Different world. (I also heard Jane singing the Barney song a few days ago. It somehow sounds nicer here).

Yesterday evening I am washing dishes and Jane comes to my window. "Zara, there is a dog in my house! Will you help get it out?" The dog was in our yard earlier and Jane was throwing rocks at it to try to get it to leave, but it couldn't figure out how. I'm not a fan of dog-rock-throwing, but I think it was the same dog that dug up my one pitiful row of Swiss chard and spinach. I go over to Jane's, she has two friends over and they are all in her bedroom looking for the dog. He has found a way under the bed. We take off the mattress and they try poking at him between the slats. He just hides more. He tries running behind the bed where I am. I hold out my hand and try to make friends, but he is scared and growls. Okay, buddy. We'll try a different way.

I tell them that all the people are scaring him and he just wants to hide, so Jane and her lady-friend go outside, and her guy-friend and I continue to disassemble the bed and prod the dog (who is kind of tiny and really adorable). We finally remove all possible hiding places and provide an exit and the dog runs out and hides in the garden. Poor thang. I can't imagine how or why he got into Jane's house with 3 people in there!

In other (unsavory) news, I've had diarrhea for something like over a month now. I need to go to the health center and figure out what exactly is in my gut so I can kill it. But the idea of going to the health center and waiting and waiting just to poo in a cup and have an awkward French conversation seems so unpleasant. I'm still kind of hoping it'll go away on its own, but, it's been over a month.

Love to you all! Hope your intestines are healthier than mine!

(Also if anyone can explain to me the difference between it's, its and its', I'd be much obliged).

(Also my latest package requests include: one of those cloths you can roll dough on, coriander, turmeric, some liquid Dr. Bronner's peppermint magic soap, and probably some other stuff I can't remember now. Oh, America candy is always nice. I got some smarties and cadbury eggs that were nothing short of epiphanic. And can I say again that everyone who has sent a package is nothing short of AMAZING?! It's really not necessary (soooo expensive!), but it is really nice. Letters and photos are also great. Also thank you letters are sloooooooowly on their way.)