Déshabillé (part 2) (Tuesday, 2010 December 21)

December 21, 2010

Apparently skinny-dipping in [this town at this training event] is a tradition at this training event, which is part of why we felt a need to go out and do that. But that it was just the four of us was disappointing by the standards of other, less inhibited stages. (There was also another group from my stage that went skinny-dipping when they got here before training.) So Thursday, at the bonfire (!) that the more motivated volunteers had put together on the beach, people decided that we needed to do another skinny-dipping expedition. Apparently last year they held hands and sang Christmas carols.

So we decided to try again Thursday. I left my man-purse with Julia and then we were all in the water again, doing all the absurd things that a bunch of slightly inebriated and relatively young people do. We did hold hands and sing for a little while, but we couldn’t agree on a carol so it wasn’t really coherent. And Ben kept sneaking underwater and grabbing people to spook them. I think we were talking about that when we heard a pop noise from the bar, like a bottle of champagne misfiring. We all looked and then we heard another one, and all these people were running in and out of the bar. It looked like people were running away, but some people were running back in. Suddenly it clicked that the noise we heard were gunshots. This is when I got scared. Specifically:

  1. Am I going to die?
  2. Did anyone shoot Julia?

We didn’t know what was going on, but those of us in the water stage-whispered good advice: stop talking, spread out so that if people were going to shoot at us, they’d have a hard time hitting us. We waited a tense little while, and then we saw three men sprint up the beach, and then (it seemed) climbed into a bush. Jake was hot on their heels, but he wasn’t chasing them; he came down to the water and shouted, "Guys, put your clothes on and get back to the bar! We’ve been robbed!"

"Jake, they’re RIGHT OVER THERE!"

"Over where?" And then he dashed off to follow them. Later he said he had been trying to get a look at their getaway vehicle, but didn’t see anything. This is the sort of reason why I call him G. I. Jake ("a real American hero"). We scrambled up onto the beach and got dressed, some of us needing a little bit more help than others, and then we went back to the bar. They had taken pretty much every wallet/purse but nobody was seriously hurt. Julia had gotten a cut on her little finger and was in tears, apologizing that they had taken my wallet, and Andrea had gotten a cut on her back, but everyone was fine. Everyone was safe. And that was so important to us.

If you’ve ever been in a weird situation like a robbery or even a car accident, you probably know more-or-less how things played out afterwards: we waited for more official people to take care of things, and we fretted and worried and debated what had happened and what was going to happen, without being able to do anything about any of it. The owner of the bar, an older French dude, had been hit on the head. We didn’t know where his girlfriend was (turned out she had taken a moto to go get the cops). Eventually Organization admin shuttled us across the street back to the hotel in a car in groups of seven or so. "New kids go first," the second-year volunteers said.

Me, Timothy, Allison, Jenny, and Jessica congregated in Allison and Jenny’s room, decided that for once alcohol wasn’t the worst way we could deal with the situation. Drank, shot the shit, and around midnight decided that the hints Jenny and Allison were dropping that they would like to go to bed were clear enough. Me and Timothy continued to talk for another hour or so before eventually calling it quits.

The next day I got an attestation de pert, a laminated piece of paper that says I lost my ID card so please don’t arrest me. I’m in Yaoundé right now, originally intending to get a new ID card but apparently the cops found all the documents (which I guess the thieves got rid of). So now I’m just hanging out and maybe I’ll go to Bafia tomorrow? I’m kind of thinking/hoping that I’ll stay away from post until I want to go back to post. But that hasn’t quite happened yet. Getting robbed is already almost a footnote to what has already been so complicated and bizarre..

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