Friday, April 1, 2011

ujineere didi be tenere didi be nogas é didi

...that means "two thousand two hundred and twenty two" in Fulfulde. I was going to translate the number of days I've been here into Fulfulde, but I don't actually know how many days that is...
so I just picked a really big number to impress you with my language skills!

Thursday March 24
Class and meetings with profs to discuss ISP proposal. Getting mixed feedback about feasibility, but I’m starting to get a clearer idea for the research component of my practicum and am excited. “Perceptions and impact of Heifer International’s ‘Pass on the Gift’ Policy”.
Here are the proposed research questions: 1) Do participants fulfill the “Pass on the Gift” requirement merely out of obligation or out of desire? 2) Does the policy inspire increased generosity among participants?
By the way, on my way home I passed a cow walking down the street. By itself. No big deal.
In other news, I now make water. Yep, I’m that magical. Or…maybe I’ve just started using my iodine tablets. Maybe.
Quiet at home because the 6 and 4 year old went to their mom’s for a few days.
I had to eat like a whole freakin’ bag of rice for dinner. Whew!
I had a nice chat with Papa about religion. My host parents here are just so kind and gentle.
I’m treating myself to 8+ hours of sleep here. Kind of a must since it’s my only “me” time. Though I must say, it’s becoming QUITE the party in bed—we’ve added the newborn to our gang!

Friday March 25
Fewer classes - - > less structure - - > Maria feels unproductive.
Even when I don’t have class, I just get up and leave as if I do…it’s just simpler.
Maybe I’m a bit hard on myself though—part of the unproductiveness might be due to all my walking. I’m getting some good exercise! I takes me something like 45 minutes or an hour to get from my house to centreville (and pretty much all the taxis here are motorcycles).
Random note about town: So I’d seen plenty of Obama tshirts around Cameroon, but Ngaoundere is even home to several Obama establishments… “Obama Clothing” and “Obama Call Box” are my favorites so far.
We did, however, visit the Lamidat today, so I suppose it was somewhat productive. The Lamidat is basically the type of chefferie found in this region. It’s situated right next to the “grand mosquee”, and since today’s Friday, we got to watch the faithful gathering. It was a good compromise since I can’t actually enter a mosque since 1) I’m not Muslim and 2) I’m a girl.
Also, afterwards the Lamido dude himself showed up…I felt like I was in Aladdin thanks to his turban and the procession guiding him in. Those trumpets were bigger than me!
The neighbor ladies fed me dinner on our shared front porch; I think this means we’re officially friends. SO. MUCH. FOOD. Thinking of “The Little Engine that Could” as I eat.

Saturday March 26
Got picked up at 4am! To take a daytrip to a park. Closer than Waza and less cool, but we did spot 1 giraffe and 14 hippos! I s’pose that made the bumpy ride worth it.
Once back to town I met up with Ellen (she’s back!) to catch up on life and on our IDI homework.
At home I watched a bit of the soccer match…Cameroon lost to Senegal, which means they don’t get to compete in the African cup. Boo.

Sunday March 27
-La messe me manque.
-Put pedal to the metal and cranked out my IDI results. In short, Ellen and I found in our research that: when a woman begins working, her husband’s not going to pitch in with chores. Whether he’ll treat her better/worse/same because of her job, now that’s a mixed bag.
-Loads of visitors. Hard to say if it’s thanks to the baby or if it’s simply the usual way.
-Balla, the 15 month old, is my favorite. Great day, because he is finally not scared of me!! You don’t understand…he’s SO cute.
-It’s official: I’ve eaten couscous manioc or rice for dinner for a week straight.
-Out on the porch with the gals….
*One of the neighbors is a real hoot. Every day she tries to think up a new way to come home with me. Today she proposed several times that I marry her husband and the three of us go back together.
*The other neighbor sells that purple drank stuff on the street. We all helped fill and tie the little packets. Blows my mind—she’ll sell them at a nickel a piece. So in about an hour’s time she packaged enough to earn about $3. And it could take several days worth of work to sell those…

Monday March 28
-Class was our final “thematic seminar” discussion.
-Fulfulde lesson
-lunch at the milk bar (per usual)
-visit to an artist: this was really cool! He was a handicapped man who has won some of the top prizes for art in Cameroon and has even travelled some with his art in the US and Europe.
-Oops, I’m becoming a cyber café addict.
-I came home and found the kids are back, and everyone is freshly braided and henna-ed for tomorrow’s baptism. Wasn’t long before I was matching!

Tuesday March 29
I got really lucky! I didn’t start class till 13h, so that meant I got to stay at home for the baptism and all its prep. Even when getting ready for a party these people stay calm; I swear stress does not exist in Ngaoundere—greatest thing ever. I helped a bit with packaging kola nuts for the guests (important part of many Cameroonian traditions…I tasted it for the first time. Yuck!)
Friends and family started swinging by around 10h30 or 11h. I used the opportunity to snap a jillion pics. Makes up a bit for the fact that I can’t whip out my camera on the street to capture all the sights (a man tending to his small field with a water can—a patch of bright green in a sea of red dust; a moto zipping by with its passenger carrying a 12’ piece of plywood or the one following it, his passenger with a baby strapped to her back). Anyhoo, lots of cute kids and beautiful ladies wrapped in lovely pagne.
In fact, ALL the guests were ladies. Apparently the gents celebrated at 6 this morning, giving the baby his name at the mosque and sacrificing a lamb outside the house…wish someone had woken me up for that! I must say, I find it interesting that this ceremony is also called a ‘baptism’. No water or sin washing involved, but they did shave the boy’s head and shared plenty of rice and purple drank. From what I could tell, soap was the #1 baby gift; whew! that’ll last a while.