Les jeunes delinquents (Friday, 2010 June 11)

June 17, 2010

It’s already 10 and I still want to try to shower tonight, so I’ll try to make this quick.

Those of us in the Education program (this includes me) have language classes in a different building than the other program (which I will call Business [since the real name is too googleable]). Ours is in an actual school, in which the final days of class are taking place. The grass is a bit long. Today, during French class, kids came out with machetes and hacked at it. Now the grass is uneven, but I guess it’s cheaper than hiring a gardener.

We should be having classes in a classroom but that would be by the road, which is trafficked by motos and thus loud. Instead we moved the class under a tree. We bring a desk out each lesson and sit there, and afterwards bring it back. Today’s desk had written on it (in addition to the cross-cultural penises) a couple of drawings of faces, apparently conversing. I only copied the response:

"Shut your mouth
can’t you eat those
you fat lips"

(spoken by a face with a fat nose to a face with fat lips [which wanted to eat something]).

At one point in our lesson, something happened, and suddenly a flood of kids, some still carrying machetes, were running past us and shouting. Our trainer explained, "there is a fight". I guess a fight between two kids draws a crowd universally. "With the machetes?" "No, not with the machetes." They just happen to be carrying them, but they fight with their hands, which is laudable, I guess.

There is one very Cameroonian thing I’ve seen, which is to use a particular intonation of "voila" to mean "yes, you get it". You can even overhear it, but I hear it most when I’m trying to make sure I understand what someone has said. I’ve also come across the word "peuge", which is not actually a word but just how you say "peux-je" ("can I").

Something happened with my host brother Claude and Elizabeth G.’s host family, but I don’t have a clear read on it. Claude is my homeboy and he affects a tough-guy image, but he’s really pretty mild. I’m sure it will blow over.

Finally: it was cool today (my watch says 78 right now). I have resigned myself to never feeling clean from a bucket bath. I smell moldy all the time. And I still don’t quite accept that I am here — it seems like something that someone is telling someone else.

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