Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Ready for round 2?

So I guess now would be a good time to have a fresh start… Why round 2? Well I’m on my second year as a Peace Corps Volunteer, high school English teacher in my wonderfully small village of Diang. I hadn’t realized how busy I was going to get last year after my last posting that one event after the other lead to a series of unfinished projects and work assignments. I was however thankful for the busy-ness because I am not one to enjoy too much time just sitting on my butt and staring at a wall but also it gave me a sense of productivity and accomplishment. There were definitely moments where I wanted to rip my hair out due to my inability to say no. For some inexplicable reason I must have thought I was a super hero of some sort, I just kept saying yes to work that I clearly didn’t have time for, thus making this summer a refreshing break. I finally-unexpectedly- went back to western society thanks to Joanna’s invitation to her brother’s wedding as her date which ironically happened to be in good ol’ Newport, Rhode Island… weird huh. We stayed with my brother Wes and his girlfriend Haley. My mom came along so it was a full house. It was a short visit and as much as I wasn’t at the house, Wes and Haley were very accommodating. Unfortunately, I regret my presence wasn’t exactly known therefore I didn’t get to spend much time with them. However, I was able to see friends that I hadn’t seen in over a year, share my pooping in a hole, teaching high school students and eating insects such as termites’ stories with them. Let’s just say a flushing toilet, the ocean and sail boats and good red wine were the most amazing sensations… weeeell not the most but you get the picture.

Leaving was the hard part. Saying good bye to my family, my friends… to my heart knowing that I wouldn’t be seeing them for another year was painful. I didn’t think I had as much liquid inside of my body to shed as many tears as I did on that plane ride home… but something happened once I set foot on the African soil…

A friend of mine who is from Europe but lives in Yaoundé told me that when he left Cameroon for 10 years after spending his childhood there, felt as though his heart was breaking. It wasn’t until years later when he finally returned that the warm humid breeze that brush passed his cheeks and barely under his nose that he finally felt at home and at ease. I have to admit that there was a partial truth to that for my sentiments toward my return. I knew that I had a job to finish, a family that I missed dearly and friends I couldn’t wait to share stories with. After landing in Yaoundé a friend drove me back to the Peace Corps house where I stayed up late with some volunteers talking about America. I then went to bed to only get up a few hours later to catch my bus back to Bertoua. There, I found my postmate, Laura and a couple other volunteer friends. We chatted for a while. To their relief I wasn’t a total mess; I talked about my US experience as a positive one and felt that it is definitely something I look forward to getting back to when my contract is up. That night smiles intensified when my new, impulsively bought itouch rang, my heart beat sped up when I answered, and heard his voice. I wasn’t quite ready to let him go yet.

Upon my return to Diang, I was welcomed by my little brothers; Jonson and Alex, who helped me clean my house for 5 hours. I then had my second greeting from best friends; Estelle and Vip aka Boris. We sat around drinking my first castel (24oz Cameroonian beer) with more friends; it felt as though I had never left. I looked around, the power was cut, the sky beamed with glowing stars, only the bar we were sitting at and the one across the way had lights due to the generators. I could hear laughter and see smiles through the shadows of the dust that was created every time a car drove through the spot lights on the main dirt road. I was once again at ease and ready to commence… round 2 of this unexpected adventure.

Current day, I have now begun my second academic year teaching the same classes (8th, 10th and 11th grade) as last year. Only this time I was asked to help out at a technical high school, where I took on 5 more hours teaching 7th grade and have 2 big secondary projects in the making. After my first day at school I stopped in Estelle’s bar to chat a bit and she seemed surprised to hear that I accepted the hours at the technical high school. She says to me… hakuna matata. No, she didn’t really say that but the expression left on her face read exactly that. She saw me at my most stressful period last year and wanted to remind me that life is a roller coaster of events and emotions; all you can do is breath, take your time and when you’re ready to move forward.. do it! As much as I know she’s right, I’m sure I’ll be hitting some bumps along the way and stumble my way back to my feet, but honestly, I’m as ready as I’ll ever be. Life isn’t going to slow down so why not just… do it.