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Visitation (Sunday, 4 July 2010)

July 7th, 2010

A few things stick out here at post. The first and most obvious is the climate. The first night I tried to sleep with just my sleep sack, which is awesome, but not warm enough at night. When I wake up, my lying-piece-of-shit watch (before it was broken) tended to say high-60s for temperature. The first time I took a bucket bath, the air pressure vacuum-sealed my deodorant, and water evaporating off of my body looked like steam.

Another was the mayor’s office. There are mayors for each region as well as sous-prefêts and prefêts (called in English "Divisional Officers" and "Senior Divisional Officers"). Mayors are popularly elected whereas the prefêts are appointed, and I get the impression that certain things follow from this — the prefêts think they’re hot shit and have real power, whereas the mayors are really awesome and do what they can with what they got. There’s also "traditional chiefs". It’s almost like Cameroon has two or possibly three parallel systems of government (which is kind of par for the course).

Anyhow, the mayor’s office was pretty cool. The power wasn’t running at first, so we had to open a window to let the light in. The doors were locked — the mayor himself wasn’t there, we were seeing the second adjoint to the mayor, or "second vice mayor" — but the cabinets inside had the keys in the locks, and the handles were shiny-looking plastic in the form of polished wood and gold. I was just struck by it, I guess.

The thing that I’m the most sick of right now is hanging out at J-C’s house with the kids and playing the same card game over and over again. Right now I’m actually hiding at Wendy’s, who is a current Volunteer who is going to be ending her term of service before I actually start, and using my laptop without hiding in my room and pretending to be asleep. I guess in practice I probably could be a little bit more open about what I’m doing but I don’t have power to do a demonstration because I don’t have a lot of battery and J-C doesn’t have a regulator to protect my fragile electronics from the shitty power. I’m hanging out here with two trainees from my group, one of whom (Christina) is going to be posted here with me, and another (Jessica) is going to be posted not too far away.

I bought a USB key, so in theory I have Internet right now, but in practice I can’t make it work, perhaps because Wendy’s house is in a little valley and the signal isn’t very good. Maybe the account isn’t active yet. I’ll try to get it to work once I’m pretending to be asleep again or back at training. Oh, and power just went out. It’s the 4th, but we’re not really celebrating. I’ve heard there’s another celebration at a town some number of hours away, but I have to be here tonight so I can speak to the proviseur tomorrow.

Another thing I want to write a little bit about is music. I have still been thinking about A Weather, specifically "Spiders, Snakes". It’s good music for doing sit-ups with the strong drum beat, and although the rest of that album "Cove" doesn’t hold the same emotions for me that it did in December and January, there’s still a bit of resonance here and there.

Did you mean the things you said?
Were you pulling ankles and legs?
Do you read when you go to bed?
Do you lie there shaking instead?
‘Cause it works both ways with the rain
Leaving the words unread
And I want to have you again
Listening to Bedhead

I like having to run
When I don’t run, and it leaves me
So so tired
I want better for you
And for my son
than the lies we’re leading now

—A Weather, "Spiders, Snakes"

One time I thought while I was picking fish bones out of my mouth the other night was "Canticle" by Simon and Garfunkel, a song I haven’t really listened since I decided to boycott RIAA. Isn’t there a line about a cherry without a stone? I can’t look right now. Anyhow, I was put in mind of the time I went to karaoke with Gus and her friends, and I chose "America" by Simon and Garfunkel, and sang it badly, but Gus hugged me anyhow and said that hippie music felt like home to her. I miss her.

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