I saw a guy wearing a White Sox jersey today. It was a Michael Jordan jersey. That's hilarious, by the way, for those of you who aren't baseball fans.
Last night after posting that blog entry I had another one of the incidences where I'm in my pajamas, getting ready for bed, and I hear shouting from the door. "ELENA! ELENA! TU ES-LA?" (Elena, Elena, are you there?) It was M. Le Docteur, aka the big head boss guy. He informed me that I would be going to the headquarters of the German organization which finances RENATA in the morning to learn more about their partnership. This is awesome since I'm mostly here to learn about how a non-profit organization functions in a developing country.
"This is where all of the white people live"
That's what my colleague told me as our taxi arrived. The organization is located in the neighborhood that houses most of the embassies, called Bastos. I live pretty far from Bastos, so her statement wasn't TOTALLY true, but I definitely understood what she meant. We were with a girl who suffers from hearing loss, but whom they described as "a deaf mute". She clearly was not mute because she talked to us. It's so interesting to me how even this organization, which fights for the rights of minorities, doesn't completely operate the same way we do when it comes to political correctness.
M.L.D. sat me down in his office. He's a very nice guy and I really think he's doing something amazing with his work, but for some reason it felt a lot like waiting to be disciplined by a principal. "I want to tell you about the relationship between our two organizations."
He sat me down and explained for 20 minutes everything about the history of the two organizations and how they function. Awesome! Ten pages of my final project had just been spoken to me. I forgot my notebook in my apartment.
I retained it all though. I'm super fascinated by how much independence is given to the local organization and how much of it is managed by exterior groups.He gave me a couple of pamphlets which will help my research a ton and he said that in a little while I can accompany them out of Yaounde to attend a training for new counselors and see how that all works. I will probably get to attend the elections for their new executive secretary and such!
After that meeting Grace and I went to a grocery store in Bastos that had mostly European products. She thought that I would want to buy groceries there since I'm American, except groceries there were super expensive and things like ramen noodles and pringles. No thank you. I will not pay $8 for a container of pringles. So I requested we go to a place where I could buy fruit.
To market we go!
Grace and I took a taxi to a market fairly close to my apartment. We walked around and I got stared at a lot and a lady let me try a slice of orange because she was happy to see me. We bought oranges and papayas at the fruit stands. Alas, it is not yet mango season. I did, however, see avocados the size of my face! I may have to purchase one of those soon, although I'm not sure I could eat it all before it went bad. We then headed into a little shop and bought some popcorn from a popcorn machine. I was excited as this is one of my favorite snacks in the US, though was surprised to taste something sweet. Turns out they just pour sugar over their popcorn! I miss the delicious buttery salty kind, but this was good too.
We headed back to work (because people just leave work all the time there....that's another story.) and I folded some pamphlets with Audre until we decided to go visit Christian at work. He took us out to eat at a Cabaret, which is actually more like a karaoke bar here but with dancing as well. (Also the news station on loop playing Michelle Obama's rendition of the national anthem...) We ate Ndole, which is kind of a spinachy flavored dish and when someone says l'Ndole it sounds like "Land o' Lakes", and some more plantains. I'm beginning to realize that plantains in Cameroon are kind of like rice in Senegal. It's just going to keep happening, which is unfortunate since I'm not a huge fan of those. So far I'm not SUPER excited about the cuisine here, except for the produce, but Saturday I'm going to Audre's aunt's house to learn how to cook some Cameroonian food! Seriously it will be all day, she's picking me up at 7:30 AM.
So that's how today went more or less. I enjoy getting back to my apartment at a reasonable time so I can update all of you on everything before I forget!
With love from Cameroon,