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Posts Tagged ‘pictures’

Réseau (Saturday, 2012 March 10)

March 10th, 2012

Club Informatique and I have been starting work on constructing our local-area network (réseau local) with the materials we got from the préstataire a month or two ago. First, I "hired"/invited a technician from Aladji Informatique to come give a talk about how to sertir (we’d say "crimp") an Ethernet cable. That was Wednesday.

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It’s nice to not be at the front of the class for once.

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This is one of the 4e classrooms that we commandeered for the lesson.

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Domche, Cat 5 cable, Wolverine sideburns.

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My hair is growing out.

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This is Josiane. She’s the daughter of Madame-Ann-the-orange-lady and she’s basically adorbs. She speaks really quietly and quickly and she avoids eye contact and she’s at this stage where every time she touches the computer at all, it’s wide-eyed magical. "Try it," I’ll say, and then she will and she’ll get this look of awestruck wonder. The other day she asked how long I was going to stay here in this country and finding that it was "only" five months, she got really sad, maybe even cried a little bit. I couldn’t tell if it was honest distress at not being able to learn informatique from me — "but there’ll be other volunteers," I said, and she replied, "but they won’t be you" — or something of a girlish crush. "I can’t stay," I told her. "I’m an only child, and every day that I’m here, my parents suffer without me" — my go-to reason for why I’m not staying any longer. In a rash decision I told her that when she gets her Bac she can come visit me in the States, figuring that if it is a girlish crush it’ll give her something to fixate on long enough to get over it. I regretted it pretty much immediately but yesterday she slipped a note into my bag that says "Grand merci as you have made me go to class. What you said to me the other day was true because you told me that you’re the only child to your mother. Me too I’ve thought a lot." So who knows.

We set up a couple cables yesterday — some of them seem to work but they made about a dozen that seem faulty in one way or another and need to be triaged. I demonstrated that the network was working using the nc command to set up a rudimentary telnet server, but with luck tomorrow I can set up some real filesharing software and a web server or something. Also, I’d really love to set up a few networked games — since ZSNES is already on the computers, that would be cool, and something cute like Teeworlds would be wonderful. I’d school them, of course, but I’d be humble about it.

This is the most successful project I’ve had as a volunteer, and it’s really gratifying (as opposed to the other year and a half of pure slog). It’s a little depressing, though, that it took me this long to get to a point where something like this could actually happen. More as it develops..

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Club (Monday, 2012 February 27)

February 29th, 2012

It is the end of a Monday and I am just getting out of 2e, nominally 13h50-14h40 but typically 13h50 until I can’t cope any more or all the students are gone. Today that hour arrived at 16h, which is kind of early. I closed the lab on the last student after I got tired of watching her do the same stupid thing over and over again while ignoring my profoundly wise, Socratic-style questions. I am tired of 2e C (I am supposed to be grading their papers even now). I am tired of the way that they chat and goof off and ignore me when I lecture and the way that they subsequently fail to perform at all in the lab. I am not sure whether I am more tired of this completely rambunctious lack of self-control or its opposite, my 2e A4 class’s abject and complete indifference.

You might not know this but when I went home for summer vacation last year, I packed a few essential provisions (as in "où sont les provisions?"): sesame oil, packed in a last-minute flash of inspiration, because sesame oil is awesome. Second: a can of stuffed grape leaves. I have been saving this can of stuffed grape leaves. It is my treasure. I have never mentioned it to any other volunteer and I have no intention of sharing it. It is In Case of Emergency. I already know that a day will come when I will need that can of stuffed grape leaves — a day when sachets and chocolate are not enough, when I cannot bear to be doing this work or being in this village. When this day comes, I will lock my door, turn off all my lights, crawl into my bed with the can of stuffed grape leaves, open it very carefully, and eat every last one.

Today was almost that day. Almost. I am writing this from the sober end of three sachets and 1/4 bar of chocolate I still can’t bring myself to grade these tests.

As I said, I cut out early because "we" had a rendez-vous at the sousprefet’s house to install some software so I absolutely had to peace out. We didn’t install all of it — for some reason Nero 7 isn’t compatible with Windows 7? — but I’ve successfully unloaded the rest of that menial travail onto one of the students of the new "informatique club".

It turns out that this is going to be the blog post to bump the Maroc pictures off the front page of my blog, so I feel comfortable adding some more pictures to this post.

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This is the newly-reinstated "Club Informatique". We meet whenever I am capable of being in the lab without threatening to stave someone’s head in. From right to left, there are: Brice, me, "Steven" (although I thought his name was Simeu), Domche, and I think Poula, with the lower row being André and Fokui Justin. During this (obviously staged) shot I am saying something along the lines of "And as you can see here, the problem is that this keyboard has had the wire yanked out of it and so there is absolutely no possibility that it can ever donne."

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This is Brice. He approached me because his friend had installed CentOS on his laptop and he was having problems with getting various software thingies to work. Solution: install Ubuntu. Good kid, but a little slow to see implications or work things out thoroughly. (He keeps trying to get Windows software to work on Linux or vice versa.)

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"See, this is where the wire would be." On the right is Fokui Justin, who came to me with a bunch of students from the 1e class I don’t teach. The school’s other Informatique teacher gave them an assignment to "go research" algorithms (which is one of his lazier ways of getting around the fact that he has no idea what they are or how to teach them) so I gave them a crash-course. Students from that class still drift in and out of the lab, trying to learn HTML from a teacher who doesn’t really know it himself.

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Everyone was doing gang signs…

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… But this is my favorite: "West Region!"

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This is Domche, one of my students from Tle C/D. (In my head I call him "Wolverine", because he sports this thin, not visible in this photo, but noticeable sideburn-like beard.) He’s pretty motivated, comes to lab often, and takes copious, copious notes in this giant black notebook. I really like him and it is kind of frustrating to me that there is absolutely no way I can transmit to him even a significant fraction of the experience I have with computers. The Bacc now has a mandatory Informatique section, but Domche came to me early in the year saying he’d decided to also take the optional Informatique section and could I teach him?

Funny story, actually. After that, I told him I was always around and to just come with an idea of what he wanted to learn. He asked how he could compensate me for my time and (as a volunteer) I told him I wasn’t interested in his money. He responded that it was nevertheless the way he preferred to operate and, lacking other recourse, I tried to "display some adaptability" by using the Cameroonian formulation of "no" that I’ve heard the most often: "We’ll see". I don’t know how he took it, but he said "J’ai compris", literally "I understood", but idiomatically something like "Got it".

I don’t yet have a close-up of André, one of the coolest kids in my salle. He’s younger than the other ones by at least four years, probably closer to eight, and he’s absolutely awesome. He’s one of the random kids I trust with my house keys ("Go get me more blank CDs") and yesterday he came up to me and said he wanted me to teach him HTML!

There are a few other kids I’d like to have pictures of in this post, but that’ll have to wait for the "suite". Anyhow, so this is what I’m doing after school every day when I’m not drinking or eating chocolate.

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(I secretly love that Domche’s still doing the live-long-and-prosper sign.)

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Retrait (Wednesday, 2011 December 14)

December 15th, 2011

Well, I’m still on the plane, may as well write up some more pictures.

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Decorating your moto is a time-honored tradition in Cameroon. This one is labeled "the black pope".

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We did a surprise baby shower for Guillaine, who used to work at our favorite bar.

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This MTN ad campaign (half a year old now?) is still a little inspiring to me. Be unstoppable.

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"Detective Whiskey" and "Officer Vodka" are brand names that we find amusing. But nowhere near as amusing as..

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Gin My Lady! Purchased by Allison for a stunning 1000 CFA.

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Bunch of people came to my house to watch the Retirement Dance (Dance de Retrait).

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One of the dancers!

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Dancers in traditional garb. Note the designs on their, uh, skirts. That’s a traditional Bamiléké design.

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One of my students, who borrowed my camera to film the event. The shirt I’m wearing is the coordinated pagne for one of the concerned families.

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Queue de cheval, horse tail.

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This kind of cane is traditional in this dance.

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Here’s a bonus: some pictures of our Thanksgiving in Bangangté.

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Rabat (Wednesday, 2011 December 14)

December 15th, 2011

I’m writing on the plane back to Cameroon. I’m trying to sleep but can’t — the light is on, and unlike last time, I wasn’t sufficiently drunk (and it wasn’t sufficiently late) before boarding for me to just pass out. So instead I’m preparing this blog post, which I really should have prepared and then uploaded when I had access to good-quality Internet.

I took the train, which is run by a national train company, to the Casablanca airport and it was quite pleasant. A transfer at Ain Senaa (am I remembering that name right?) was called for, but I managed to navigate that successfully. I know it’s not entirely fair, since I spent my entire time in Rabat, which is the political capital, and only got to briefly see Casablanca, which is the economic capital, but everything I have seen so far suggests to me that Morocco is tangibly more developed than Cameroon — not to say that it’s completely and evenly Westernized, of course. A volunteer in Morocco named Yanyi snapped at me with a line about how East/West African Volunteers tend to unfairly envy Morocco just based on what they’ve seen in Rabat. So I stared out the window of the train as the landscape rushed past and tried to imagine what she saw when she looked at it. I almost had it, but then a guy walked in and sold me a small can of Pringles for 15 MAD (almost $2), and I lost it. All I could see were paved roads (OK, Cameroon’s way below normal there), streetlights (though come to think of it, there’s a couple streetlights in my village too), and then horses. Why can’t I have horses???

So I’m sorry Yanyi, but I’m inclined to think along the lines of what Quad said: the challenge of being a Volunteer in Morocco isn’t material, it’s cultural. Not to say that all posts are easy and wonderful or that the country isn’t a developing nation, but every indication I was able to acquire indicated that Volunteers lived just a little bit better in Maroc than in Cameroon. More Volunteers have running water in Morocco, and almost all of them have electricity (which is not a given in Cameroon). Women Volunteers get harassed a lot more in Morocco (which is saying something), but that’s definitely cultural, not physical. Not to say that it doesn’t wear you down.. I wavered between daring to go out and find things to enjoy on the town and wanting to just hide in my room and wait to go home, wherever that is.

Here are some more quick facts contrasting life in Cameroon and Morocco for your average Volunteer.

  • Volunteers in both countries get to learn an exotic foreign language. In Maroc: Dirisia (Moroccan Arabic). In Cameroon: French.
  • In .cm, Volunteers drink. In .ma, Volunteers smoke.
  • In Morocco, "grand taxis" (inter-city travel) are old Mercedes Benzes. In Cameroon, taxis are old Toyota Camrys.
  • Morocco has political protests (I saw at least one and perhaps as many as three in Rabat) as part of what has been referred to as "Arab Spring". (Although some of the things that I had thought were protests turned out to be football games.) We don’t have protests in Cameroon.
  • People beg a lot in Morocco. Also, cats are all over the place. In Cameroon, cats are a kind of meat.
  • As an American, local nationals will address you using a distinctive vocabulary. In Cameroon these words include "le blanc"/"la blanche", "whiteman"/"whiteman woman", "wat", etc. In Maroc, corresponding words are "Roman", "Christian", "outsider". I think this basically sums it up — Morocco has a very old relationship with the Western world, and it’s not based on skin color but rather on religion, or something else entirely. Plus, it’s way cooler to be addressed as a Roman.

I definitely saw a lot of wonderful things peculiar to Rabat. Right now I’m thinking about a trip I took where I meandered into the medina and stumbled into a "district" of people typing on typewriters, producing crisp black-and-white Arabic. And I probably could have done a much better job taking advantage of my time there, but I’m happy to be going home, even if the Internet connection won’t be as good there.

Here are some of the things I saw in Rabat, starting with the ruins at Chellah.

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Chellah was originally a Roman settlement and it has a giant wall, but it’s been resettled over the years and there’s ruins even of a mosque inside. It costs 10 MAD (about $1.25) to enter and nobody bothered me while I was there, but that may have been because it was almost dusk. That black smudge at the base of the tower is a cat curled up in the sun.

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This is the "site antique", although I’m not entirely sure what that means. It’s definitely antique.

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That might be a bath-house over there, and there’s a mosque or something. Note the cats.

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Foundations of buildings.

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All the informative plaques were long since faded by the elements.

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This building was locked.

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This is the bath-house, I think.

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A couple of storks have their nest up there.

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Access to running water, perhaps?

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Just on the other side of Chellah appeared to be someone’s property.

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In some places, the ruin had been obviously enhanced.

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Cats.

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At the Rabat American School, there was a holiday bazaar, vaguely Christmas-themed but also kind of not. Here I am depicted with cotton candy. I also ate a hamburger and a hot dog and a few sundry other delicious things.

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I also bought this knife, which this gentleman engraved "Stayin’ Alive". (It is the best I could do at the time. A nice fellow suggested that a better engraving would have been "Surprise!") I paid 300 MAD for the knife, and 180 MAD to ship it to America (instead of checking it in my luggage). The $36 per-diem (525 MAD) is very generous; even eating everywhere I wanted and buying this knife, I still came out ahead at the end of my trip by about 300 MAD.

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This is the school itself (and part of its field). I’m not sure if there’s any academic facility this nice in Cameroon? It was cool to watch the kids, who were your basic generic American mix of kids, plus some of other Western affiliations with charming accents.

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Salé, "Rabat’s bedroom community".

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The Casbah, which literally means "fortress". It’s right on the water (the Atlantic, if I’m not mistaken).

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I was told that all the buildings in the casbah have to be painted blue and white to reflect the colors of the sea.

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On the beach, there’s this lighthouse. There’s a graveyard right next to the beach but I think it’s bad form to take pictures in Muslim graveyards?

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During my week-and-a-half long stay in Rabat, I occasionally got to hang out with other Volunteers. Here’s Tina (who also goes by "Mina", since "Tina" means "vagina" in her local language). I’m also thinking of Jo, Kelsey, Marcia, and a group of gentleman named Russ, Bradley, and Xavier. Russ and Bradley play this game where they refer to each other by their own name, and generally encouraging the exchange of their two names — thoroughly confusing the poor helpless Medevac who’s trying to learn everyone’s name. One of them, probably Bradley, is an ENORMOUS ASSHOLE because during dinner, he decided to throw food at me. Having dirty clothes is much more inconvenient when you’re living out of two bags in a hotel. "What are you going to do, Cameroon, write about it in your blog?" he is reputed to have said.

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Here’s his written confession! "Send [the Organization] your cleaning bill!" What cheek! If you or anyone you know is in Morocco in any capacity, FIRE HIM. Bradley Ogata, if that’s even your real name, I will find you.

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The Bibliothèque Nationale. The only libraries in Yaoundé are privately owned, with the best-known one at the Centre Culturelle Français. I got a tour by one of the employees of the library, although really I just wanted him to leave me alone to wander around a little myself. (I was half afraid he was going to ask me for money at the end, but he just said "Bye bye!" and kind of pushed me away.)

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Just next to the library is a little park, called a jardin. The stairs have a picture of the Spanish "Mona Lisa".

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The jardin provides access to the roof of the library. I think the tower is a book repository. On the top, it’s decorated with Arabic lettering (but not saying anything as far as I know).

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Not sure about these panes of glass.

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If you were going to check out two things in Rabat, I’d recommend Chellah and Tour Hassan, which is a mausoleum for at least one and probably several deceased kings. On the other hand, you have to watch out because unscrupulous Moroccans will try to hassle you if you’re a tourist — stunts like starting to draw on your arm with "henna dye" and then afterwards asking you for money for the service they’ve just rendered. "Even as little as 300 MAD," she said — about a day of my $36 per-diem! I gave her 10 dirham and then wiped this crap off my arm as best I could.

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I gave this guy 10 Ds too but at least he was upfront about what he wanted and for what.

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I didn’t pay the guards anything.

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This is outside the actual tower/mausoleum, which may have been closed that day. (And then I got accosted by a tout. Watch out for faux guides in Morocco.) I didn’t feel like going back the next day.

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An English-Language Bookstore very close to centre-ville. The older gentleman on the right is the owner. I saw Marvel comics!

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The outside of the medina, with the tramway tracks running right in front of it. All these buildings are still occupied. Damn, sorry for the quality of this shot; I neglected to clean my camera lens before I left Cameroon.

Things not pictured: the English-style pub "Upstairs", at which I spent a pleasant 100 MAD; the Chinese restaurant Tianamen Square where I did the same — actual Chinese people walked in and ordered while I ate; the cool shawarma place/guy "Snack Le Broodjest" pretty close to the hotel; or any of the other foods I ate while in Morocco! Google search tagine if you want to get an idea.

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Sportif (Thursday, 2011 November 24)

November 25th, 2011

A few weeks ago I played in the students-vs.-teachers soccer game. It was a shitshow. Here are some pictures of me being sprotif.

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Yeah, you know, wearing my sport outfit. No big deal, guys.

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Warm-ups.

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Most students aren’t capable of doing thirty of these.

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Don’t have sneakers? Boots’ll do in a pinch.

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Children!

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Madame Ann sells oranges. She’s got more important things to do than sporting events.

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Hallowe’en (Monday, 2011 October 31)

October 31st, 2011

Halloween is one of those holidays that we celebrate way too much here, like July 4th and probably like the upcoming Thanksgiving, because it’s one of those ways to revel in your Americanness. This year the place to be was Buea, although there was a simultaneous party in Bangangté. It’s kind of a tragedy that we had two different parties in the Grand West, but with so many expats it’s kind of inevitable. Almost all of the ICT volunteers still in this country, including Jenny who came back for it, went to the Buea party, which included:

  • drunk nerds

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(That’s Jared and Julius.)

  • LMFAO’s "Party Rock Anthem" theme including costumes

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  • Jello Wrestling

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This is where me and Lindsey exchanged shirts.

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  • Most importantly, the "gonging out" of Jenny Wang, the heart and soul of the ICT crew.

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Heather’s playing Kim, part of Organization Admin. This is the sort of joke that explaining doesn’t make funny.

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Allison is playing Lahomabot.

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Good luck, Jenny Wang! If we pass through Geneva, we’ll be looking for you.

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Rapport (Thursday, 2011 September 29)

September 29th, 2011

The closest deadline at present is the Saturday deadline for our Trimestrial Report, 2011 June-September. So that’s what I’m working on today, my "day off", after I went shopping at the market. Un rapport is a report, but it’s also used in le rapport sexuel, sexual contact. My dictionary gives "contact" as a general meaning for rapport.

I figure I’ll be sitting at my computer for a while typing up notes and observations about the fairly meager activities I fostered during this period, which (you’ll note) centers largely around summer vacation. But I figured that while I’m writing, I’m not using my Internet, so I may as well upload some pictures.

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This is from the pool party at Dschang. It’s an actual swimming pool! This is at the Centre Climatique, which is a beautiful place.

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Dschang also features an artificial lake.

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A ceremony at one of the local hospitals. One of the local notables had arranged for some French partners to donate some medical stuff, including a bunch of mattresses and a delivery table.

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The "SISTERS", the association of village women in Douala (ex-pats?). They helped somehow with the gift or something.

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Some other association, this time all of local village men (J-C is the really tall one). The way the pictures are framed, it looks like they’re squaring off to fight.

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This kind of ceremony is improved by dancers.

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Sa majesté saying some words in honor of the occasion.

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I was surprised to see a for-reals political cartoon in Bafoussam a week or two ago. The subject is the recent ban on night travel, which was protested loudly by the population. Kirikou is a famous cartoon character here, who is very very small but very strong and clever. (There’s a pop song that goes Kirikou est petit, mais il est fort. I have a copy of "Kirikou et les bêtes sauvages" if you’re interested.)

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J-C’s wife Véronique (host mother #2?) called me the other day to say she was cooking something and did I want to come over for dinner, or should she just send her son up the hill with my portion? But by the time she had finished cooking, it was already dark, and they decided it would be best if I went home with the food, so I could eat at my leisure. They sent enough for two days. It’s cabbage cooked somehow, there’s fish in it too, and the complement is what they call couscous, or in Anglophone foo-foo. This is couscous de maïs, and it’s made from ground corn. It’s dense and bland but has a crisp texture. (Couscous de manioc is pretty much despised by volunteers, but couscous de maïs is acceptable. I think there’s also "wata foo-foo" and couscous de riz, but those don’t turn up much in the West.)

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Carte (Saturday, 2011 September 17)

September 17th, 2011

One of the oddities of learning another language is having to cope with homonyms. Try to translate "token ring", for example, and you’ll discover that "to ring", like a phone, in French is sonner, whereas a ring that you wear on your finger is a bague, and a ring in the sense of hoop is anneau (this is what they call a basketball hoop). It’s an important concept, that one word doesn’t always encompass every meaning — although sometimes you’ll be surprised: droit is the French word for "right" as in the direction, "to your right", but also "right" as in the legal sense, "right to bear arms".

Carte is a confusing word because (and it’s always feminine) it can mean "card", as in the cartes de séjour that we all have as legal residents in Cameroon, or as in playing cards, or carte mémoire, any memory card, such as the SD cards you put in your camera. But it can also mean "map", which makes sense if you associate it with the English word "chart". Let’s not even get into à la carte, which seems to derive from carte meaning menu (???).

The fact is that Cameroon, being a terribly confusing country, is no less confusing when treated physically. I’ve tried to address this with my feeble on-again-off-again work on OpenStreetMap, but there are more things in this world, dear Horatio, than are dreamed of in your crowdsourced mapping websites. One time when I was walking around Yaoundé I saw a store with a sign "Maison des Cartes" and thought, Yes! Finally I can get a map of this crazy mixed-up city. I walked in and was surprised when I found out that actually it was a maison of greeting cards, cartes des vœux ("cards of wishes", "wish cards").

I am telling you all this so that you understand why I had absolutely no problem blowing 10,000 CFA (about $20) on a map of my village, which was apparently made by one of the surveillants at my lycée. He says he had it printed at Yaoundé and that he went to university for cartography, both dubious claims but I’m completely willing to shell out some of my hard-earned cash on a one-of-a-kind product. There’s the added benefit that I can feel like I know my village that much better, without ever having to set foot outside my door or being subjected to the hassle of having to actually interact with people. I meant to go over this map in the GIMP and highlight the places I’ve actually been, but I’m lazy.

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Click, as always, for the full version. You can see the lycée there, and also the marché. Walking between the two is about ten minutes downhill to the marché, or fifteen minutes uphill to the lycée. I spend almost all of my time in village somewhere between those two locations. Cars to Bafoussam pick me up at the marché and proceed north-east on the red line (the route goudronée, the paved road). The first stop on their root is the other black dot, what we call "the carrefour", where carrefour is French for "intersection" or "junction". Cristina, my postmate, lives on the north-bound road from that carrefour. One time I walked it and it took me half an hour to get to the carrefour, plus another half hour to get to her house. Conclusion, I’ve probably seen less than ten percent of what is properly "my village", which is actually pretty huge when you look at it!

Of course, M. Nzeugang himself is depicted in the lower-right corner. This map is exactly the same as the one behind glass in the Hotel Grand Moulin in Yaoundé. Look for it when you’re passing through!

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Marché (Thursday, 2011 August 26)

August 26th, 2011

I’m gonna let my computer upload some more photos while I lay in bed and play DS. These are from the most recent jour du marché, last Saturday. Village marchés in the West tend to be every 8 days (traditionally, the Bamiléké follow an 8-day week). Saturdays during vacation are big days for deuils, let’s translate that as "funeral", so these pictures illustrate a marché that’s a little sparser than usual.

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The marché in my village is just off the paved road that runs from Bafoussam to Douala. Properly, it’s just behind these buildings, but it sort of spills out a little bit. This intersection is called Tchomso, I don’t know if that means something in patois, but you can also say le marché.

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Same buildings, but closer up. The one on the left is a boutique/bar. You can see some village mamas setting up here anyhow, and there are people on the veranda eating. I’m not sure about the other two buildings; I hardly ever see them open.

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Same bar, plus a look at the busiest corridor in the marché.

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This is from the veranda, facing kind of the opposite direction. You can see on the left a girl interacting with the beans-and-beignet lady (off-camera). On the right, you can see vendors of what look like dried fish, prunes, and okra (gumbo).

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Pretty much any chance I get, I get breakfast from the beans-and-beignet lady. Here you got your beans, your beignets, and a cup of bouillie, which literally I think means something like "porridge", but in Cameroon always means this kind of slightly sweet, soupy broth made from cornmeal. I always find the first mouthful really good, but subsequent mouthfuls unavoidably taste exactly like cornmeal broth. (I dunk the beignets in the bouillie but I don’t think anyone else does.) Note the spoon — forks are fairly rare in Cameroon.

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On the same veranda is a little girl operating a poisson braisé stand. The plastic dish is used to fan the charcoals.

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Although you can get clothes tailor-made fairly cheap here, cheaper still is to buy discarded clothes exported from the Occident. A used-clothes vendor like this is called a fripperie. The West Region is more Westernized than some other regions, so some stuff like this even shows up in village marchés.

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This is my favorite vegetable lady. She never calls me le blanc, though sometimes she calls me professeur. I always try to buy at least 1000 CFA worth of stuff from her, every market day, mostly in green beans but occasionally in carrots, condiment, or whatever else she has. I don’t know which of these things she grows and which she buys to resell.

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Her "neighbor" (blue and green dress) at the next table over is a little more annoying, but if she has good fruit, I’ll often buy from her.

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Typical staples in our region: carrots, green beans, tomatoes, green pepper, condiment (pretty much any aromatic herb: scallions, celery, parsley), and a bunch of peanuts (Anglophone: "ground nut").

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I don’t usually buy my tomatoes from her but I hadn’t been at the previous marché so I felt guilty and let her talk me into buying from her.

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Some tables a little ways over. Onions, ginger, and piles of cloves of garlic (100 CFA per pile). Also, babouches, which can mean sandals, slippers, or flip-flops.

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Grain products are bought en gros like this. I can’t see what these are, but I’d guess rice and dried beans.

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Another miniature fripperie. This guy is calling out something like "Clothes, one hundred a piece!"

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Usually they don’t smile.

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I never realized how many babouches were on sale in our market.

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This table is in what I consider the "back" of the market, which is much less energetic. Sometimes mamas don’t even man their tables.

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This guy is definitely a businessdude. I’ve seen him at marchés in other neighboring villages and all of his stuff was obviously purchased somewhere. I usually buy spaghetti from him.

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My village is known for its chou, cabbage. You can also see some little red piment.

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I’m not sure if honey is a big thing all over Cameroon, but there are definitely a bunch of vendors here in my village. Note the two sizes of Top bottle — "small", about 0.3 of a liter, and "normal", about 0.65 L.

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L’huil rouge, "red oil" or palm oil, comes from the nuts of palm trees. You boil the nuts and maybe add water or something. It’s a very common ingredient in Cameroonian cuisine but I think it’s not terribly healthy so I try to avoid it. All other "Western" kinds of oil are called l’huil d’arachide, "peanut oil", even if it’s sunflower, soybean, or olive.

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I ended up buying prunes from this lady. Here she is handing someone else my cadeau, "gift", a little extra to thank me for being her customer. (Also known as lagniappe.)

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Shovel blades and shovel handles are sold separately. Sorry for the quality of the pictures; I was trying to be covert.

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Peanut vendor. He’s whisking them around in a sort of sieve to try to get the skins off, rocks out, and identify the bad ones.

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I have no idea what these are but I see them a lot. They almost look like tiny shriveled piment. On the plastic bag are dried patate douce, which are like eating flavored leather.

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I haggled over some of these pineapples for a while but didn’t get the price I wanted.

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Salade, lettuce, is a rainy-season food. (Otherwise it needs to be watered "by hand".)

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Pineapples grown in my village are often shipped to Bafoussam, where they fetch a higher price. There are also fruit carts that sell pieces of peeled pineapple for 100 CFA. Cameroonians tell me that pineapple is cheaper in village, but most other things are cheaper in the city.

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I know it’s nothing compared to Hurricane Irene, but here’s what the sky looked outside my front door the other day. Brondon pointed it out to me — the clouds look pissed but there’s also sun from the other direction.

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Some mugs I bought in the other kind of market — the supermarket in Bafoussam. You have to be careful when you go there or you’ll drop tens of thousands of CFA. The darker one is from a series of Zodiac mugs (Zodiaque) and it depicts "Balance" (Libra). I’m not a Libra but I thought it was really pretty.

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Ouest (Saturday, 2011 August 20)

August 20th, 2011

I just remembered why I don’t normally upload so many photos — they take forever to upload, and then when I load my blog on a Cameroonian Internet connection, they take forever to download again. I’m gonna try to put fewer per post, maybe, or space them out with more boring words. I guess I could also hide them behind a "Read more" link, but that seems lame somehow.

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"Jambox soup", made by Barbara‘s mother Thèrese. This would be host family #3. The idea is you don’t have anything in particular to make, so you put everything "that doesn’t kill a man" into the pot and make a soup out of it. The starchy thing is kwakoko, made from coco yam, which is serving as complement. She said it came out too soft, but I thought it was delicious.

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Therèse: "the food and the mama that cooked it".

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The new stage, just arriving. This is in the Bafoussam Office (or, as Henry calls it, the "Boffice") Everybody’s eating tofu!

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Some views from the back of the Boffice.

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From the front of the Boffice. This is the main road that goes through Bafoussam. It’s wet from a rainstorm that had just swept through.

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Look, some white people!

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