Bachelor Pad (Thursday, 2010 August 26)

August 26, 2010

OK, so since last we’ve spoken, I’ve started cooking. I bought a plaque à gaz ("portable stove"; wc?) pretty much the second day I was here — Ryan made fun of the packaging, which proudly proclaims the "world’s most number of automatic features" — and yesterday I finally got it hooked up to the tank ("bouteille", bottle) of gas (I think it’s propane?). I did this with the help of my new friend Kamgo Boris, who I met in the car to Bafoussam. I’m not sure if it’s just the goodness in his heart or what, but he’s been way more helpful than he has any right to be. He’s a farmer, I guess, and among other things he produces quail eggs.

Boris managed to figure out how to connect everything up, with the negligible assistance of the included "The Using Direction". We immediately cooked a celebratory round of French fries using (a small fraction of) the 1500 CFA of potatoes I bought (7 or 8 pounds?). I want to make salad with the cabbage, but that’ll take some preparation (special precautions are required for food that you aren’t going to cook before eating, and those precautions can be summarized with "bleach").

I also bought a bidon ("jug") for carrying water (20 L) because the nearest source of drinking water is 10 minutes downhill by foot, and carrying water back is approximately 20 minutes of suffering. I made the trip once with both buckets, just to see if it could be done. It can, but it sucks. It’s better to take a moto, and in order to take a moto you need a vessel that closes. The bidon does.

I put too much bleach in my bath water tonight, and I also tried the trick of heating some water first and adding it. It felt tepid to my hand but it was much, much nicer than the cold water I would have had. Actually the result was a little like a hotel swimming pool and I kind of loved it. I guess this means I need to try to set up my solar shower — need to find a place where something is unlikely to get stolen from. The volunteer who used to be here swore by the tepid-water shower; she said it was too cold up here to shower without, and it didn’t make sense to suffer.

I also have an armchair! J-C helped me haggle for it; it was 30,000 CFA (which was still too much, according to Boris, and I kind of agree). Getting it home from Bafoussam was a huge pain in the ass; we didn’t pay 600 CFA for a taxi and instead ended up paying 700 CFA for two motos (one to carry the armchair, and one to carry J-C). That was a moto ride I will not soon forget — the road was under construction and traffic was totally fucked, and we ended up merging across a lone or two of traffic. But once we got to the point where we normally take a taxi to Batié, it was pretty late and we had a hard time finding any. We ended up getting in a pickup truck with a bunch of other people and finally hiring it to drop off the chair at my house (2,000 CFA total; normal transport for two would have been about 1,200). I get to repeat the whole process Saturday morning because for some reason I decided I wanted two?

The last step, through the front door, was a fairly serious challenge, since it’s way too narrow and doesn’t open all the way. Somehow I made it through — rotating it this way and that way and finally just using brute force. Today I explained this to J-C and he chuckled lecherously as he is wont to do, and then he says, "So did you sit in it last night?" Well, not all night. "So did you sit in it this morning?" Yeah, I sat in that bitch! Am I right bro??

In other news, I’ve made it through my first week as a real Volunteer. Only 103 left to go?

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