Wednesday, June 24, 2009

3 weeks in

More talks on malaria, la paludisme.

I have been taking my malaria prophylaxis medication every Thursday for the past three weeks and I have had “vivid” dreams every night I have taken it. My stomach felt somewhat irritated when I took it for the first time in JFK but otherwise no other complications. Nonetheless every medical session we have had sets every trainee in attention mode. Conversations head towards that ever so fun topic of parasites (worms), viruses (HIV/AIDS) or bacteria (E. coli). Finishing the session by demonstrating how to “lance” your finger to obtain a blood smear for analysis in case hospitals are closed for the weekend brings forth a lot of questions on the quality of Cameroonian health care. Or how to make sure you do NOT get malaria. These classes remind you that you are no longer in Kansas Toto.

On other note I have been assigned a local company to consult. It is the cable provider and I have been given the luck of the draw. While other volunteers have companies such as microfinance institutions, bakeries, cyber cafes or tailors (all of which have some ability to expand or to improve on their practices), I have the monopoly in town. I will head out with the technicians at some point to see what their door to door service is like. The company has already saturated the local market though, so I will have to think hard on how to create an incentive for the company to improve basic services. If anyone has any suggestions, I am all ears. A challenge is a challenge though, so I am looking forward to this new job.

My host family has been great. I have become very accustomed to the food, to the point that I now ask for spaghetti in my omelette (per l’italiani che stanno legendo questo, scusatemi però é buonissimo e sará l’unica volta che posso mangiare la pasta nel paese!). I have started helping out in the kitchen by learning how to cut and peel fruit and vegetables in such a manner as to ensure that I do not spread dirt and therefore parasite eggs (i.e. making sure no human excrement ends up on my food and gives me amoeba or other tasty morsels). Cold showers are no longer as bad as they were in the beginning. Washing clothes by hand is a novelty I could do without, but it gives me some time to let my mind wander as well as spend time with the family.

The night sky still takes my breath away. I cannot get used to how quickly night falls (or day breaks) here, but it is something I will get used to as the weeks go past and discover that seasons are from a different world. When it rains here, it rains seriously. I lay in bed listening to it and feel that rather than water drops falling from the sky it can sound like someone is pouring tonnes of sand on the roof. These storms stop as quickly as they start though and getting caught in one is an exhilarating experience. The mud it leaves behind is no joke however. It is an invasive phenomenon. It accumulates on your shoes. It spreads from one location to another by an innocent brush of a hand or sleeve. It comes out of the water mains. In short, it is everywhere and makes washing clothes by hand an extra nuisance. I am told that this is nothing. More of it is just around the corner.

As for my community, Banganté, it has been in the national news. The local football team, Les Panthères, have made it to the national championship finals. The town has gone wild without hesitation every Sunday. Rightly so too: they last Sunday they thrashed the team from the capital 4-0. I watched the game the first Sunday I was in town, and will leave an explanation of that for another time. It is however a funny story.

Hopefully internet will improve but I doubt that. Call me or send me mail though the latter may take months.

A +


christine said...

Hey Nico

I am looking forward to more local colour, sights and sounds of life in Cameroon - the sky in Africa is immense and one of the things I will always remember!

I am curious as to how the hedgehog tasted....

Anyhow,I don't envy your washing arrangements...but perhaps you may soon be able to exchange lessons for washing of clothes? Not sure how capitalistic you are able to be in the PC!!!

Soyez sage. bisous

Erica said...


Saw your message on Facebook so I was able to discover your blog for the first time. Got caught up on your posts. Sounds like you're doing well so far. Can't wait to read more soon.

Lots of love,