Déshabillé (Part 1) (Sunday, 2010 December 19)

December 20, 2010

This week has been IST, for which I have had three vaguely-stated and simple goals:

  1. Make an utter mess of myself using recreational chemicals, preferably alcohol.
  2. Have sex with another volunteer [deleted: prioritized list of opportunities sorted by attractiveness and availability].
  3. Recharge, somehow, so that I am willing to return to post and continue to work instead of giving up on this country and going home.

This post is the story about accomplishing goal #1. The title, "Déshabillé", means "undressed".

So I kicked off Saturday by clandoing to visit Jenny’s post, and then going into town to see a "concert". That week I had bought a bag of twenty sachets, figuring that Jenny couldn’t be relied on to feed my developing alcoholism. I started Saturday with seven sachets, acted slightly embarrassingly, and crashed at a Volunteer’s post. Sunday morning, me and Jenny had some sandwiches and headed out to IST, the milestone we’ve all been struggling to achieve. ("Just make it to IST," I told myself, "You can do this.") We passed through Douala ("most insecured town" according to the Organization; not sure what that means). Getting to the douche, literally "shower" but also apparently giant fountain, to find a car to the right city involved going past, and naturally going into, a supermarket. Jenny and I went in, with her commenting that it made her so happy to see all this stuff, and how much she wished she had a camera!.. to take pictures of completely normal things like meat, cheese, soy sauce, and ice cream. Wandering down the toys aisle, we saw a "FunStation 3" and boxed SEGA Master Systems.

Eventually we got to the beach and got into the water. This was still Saturday, when I was idealistic enough to believe that I shouldn’t drink too much while in the ocean (or with intent to go into the ocean). The waves were rough and we got tossed around and scratched up quite a bit. Then back to the room for more AC and hot showers. I made crude passes at Allison ("No thanks") and Jessica W. ("I’m not looking for that"). This set the template for the majority of our time in [training]: go to sessions until 17 o’clock or so, using any means necessary to get through them without screaming; then go to the beach; then party with the nerdkin.

Tuesday for dinner we went to a bar we found called "Lotus Bleu" (same name as a bar back in the training village). We had no choice but to eat grilled fish and soya, street meat, while we drank. Then a street vendor came by and sold us magic wands (picture will be coming later). Then they played horrible American pop including "Barbie Girl" and "Boom Boom (Let’s Go Back to My Room)". We found ourselves enthralled and unable to stop dancing. Then we hurried back to the hotel, where we combined Tampico, a very sweet orange-ish drink (somewhat like Sunny D) with gin. This worked perhaps too well. So when we went back to the beach in the dark (not my idea! But somehow we all knew we were going to skinny dip) I found myself singing, aloud, at the top of my lungs, "cancun ’89":

Why can’t we just stay
Where the ocean is warm all year?
Fruit hangs from the trees
Do just what you please
And nothing is the same

The sun rolls down the beach
Sand gets in your eyes
Lean in for the kiss
Tans astound the crowds
Nothing is the same

—world of science, "cancun ’89"

The waves were still too rough on Tuesday, so being naked entailed getting scraped on the sand a lot. And very quickly the alcohol caught up with me. Suddenly I was terrified of drowning and staggering around the sand. After this point, things become unclear; the other people there (whose names are withheld to avoid incriminating them) would have better recollections. I remember calling out to them, afraid that they too would drown. They say that they came out of the water to find me humping a tree (still naked), although the minority opinion is that I was just hugging the tree and unable to stand. Everyone seems to agree that I then fell down. Apparently they tried to get me to put at least pants on, but this required more coordination than I possessed. I am reputed to have said "Hey guys, guess what? I’m NAKED!" This is when the Cameroonians showed up and wanted to know if everything was fine. "Yes," my wonderful friends said, trying to stand between my spread-eagled form and the Cameroonians, "Everything is great."

I rolled a 20 on a coordination check and somehow managed to get underwear on. I had already been wearing the shirt (I think I had been trying to get dressed when they found me). One of my friends wrapped a skirt around my waist and with my arms around two of them, we managed to head back to the hotel. I am told that I said "I think I’m in love with one of you, but I don’t know which one." Eventually they deposed me in the hotel room I was sharing with Timothy, where I commenced to remove the alcohol from my body and to wonder whether or not I was going to die. (I didn’t.)

My friends report that after all the excitement, they all breathed a collective sigh of relief. "What time is it?" they asked. Consulting a timepiece, they learned the terrible truth: 10:30 PM.

Timothy and I had a heart-to-heart Monday about how Jessica W. worrying about me, and how she didn’t like to see me bashed out of my skull (and how neither did Timothy, come down to it). Wednesday morning, I told Timothy that I think I’d gotten it out of my system. Time will tell, I guess.

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