“Ça va aller” (Thursday, 2010 June 10)

June 17, 2010

By far the most interesting thing to happen today was hearing a lecture by the medical officers about "common medical problems". Worms were covered, about which the medical manual says only: "There are many different types and too numerous to go into here." Predictably, we lost our shit. I think I could kind of handle Tumbo flies, or even a little malaria, but worms kind of wig me out.

Tonight it is a brisk 82 degrees Fahrenheit (according to my watch, which is probably a lying piece of shit). I managed to send an email or two at the "cybercafé". Pretty much everyone else there was another trainee. One even asked if there was wireless (and of course there was not). The idea of bringing my own computer and uploading prewritten blog entries is almost laughable [N.B. that is what I am doing now, at the same cybercafé].

OK, I just had an awesome experience. I heard a whining like an insect by my right ear, felt something tickling my neck, freaked out and grabbed it and flung it away from me. It was a lock of my hair, which made a fascinating "rip" noise but basically wasn’t impressed.

Those of you who were looking for differences between Cameroonian French and Parisian French, I pinned down a couple: it’s not possible to use "Salut" to close a conversation here [as it is elsewhere]. But it is possible to say "On se voit" (extremely roughly "be seeing you") or "On est ensemble" ("being together"). Instead of enunciating "maintenant" ("now") you can just say "mainant". Those looking for an example of Camfranglais may be interested in something someone said to Astride: "Je vais back. Je suis comeant." (The -ant is basically the French version of -ing.) Also, someone who drives a moto (the most common form of hired converance) is called a "taximan".

People say "Comment?" here as a short form of "Comment ça va?" ("how’s it going?"), which is pretty cool. But best of all is a phrase I used for the title of this post: "Ça va aller", which means "It’ll do" (literally: "It will go").

Speaking of Astride, I was afraid she, like most Cameroonians, didn’t believe in friendship acfross genders without romance, so I made sure to drop the G-bomb (or in French, perhaps the P-bomb) to maintain a distance. Sweet girl. Her and her mother made a go of cooking lunch for the trainees today. They charged 500 CFA (approx $1). Downtown, a meal may run you as much as 1400 CFA ($2.80). An hour at the cybercafe is 300 CFA, or 1000 CFA for 4 hours.

My host father said he would like to get my real father’s phone number and speak to him in his lumbering English. They are the same age. But: to call the US is 300 CFA a minute. I don’t think he’s serious, or at least not as serious as Astride when she wants me to teach her about webcams and emails.

Lastly: I took a bucket bath in the dark. Yesterday’s breakdown was overcome. I learned how to say "through" (à travers de). Jessica W.’s family is hosting a pig slaughter today. And we are still so, so tired.

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