I walked across the balcony at the Yaoundé transit house. I stepped through a puddle to reach the wrought iron railing, turned on my heel, and walked back. Eight small steps, no more. I reached the far side and turned again. Now the Yaoundé hills were closing in on me. Turn. Now the Peace Corps office, a wall of disdain. Turn. Now the hills, so beautiful. Now the puke yellow walls. At the next turn, I told myself, I would look at my phone. No one had called. It was two in the afternoon but still too early to phone my parents in California. They would think something was wrong. None of the local numbers were passing. I had no credit.
It wasn’t until I looked up the nursery rhyme this morning that I realized that the Muffin Man really lives somewhere called Drury Lane, and not Dreary Lane. I had always found it poetic that the creator of delicious goodies would live somewhere described as bleak and dull. As if the man in the puffy white hat restored the balance of a drab, gloomy, or otherwise unpleasant day by offering some sweet pizazz to all who passed by. How much better would our service be if every time we had a day that didn’t live up to our expectations, a little chubby dough boy appeared with a tray of cookies or cinnamon rolls? Some days, beignets and Mambo bars just don’t cut it. Alas, we must rely on care packages, forethought during market town runs, and patience to find the silver lining and reap sweet rewards from disappointing days in service. Continue reading The Muffin (Wo)Man Who Lives on Dreary Lane→
As I write this, it has been 11 months and 3 days since I drove up to my little white-plastered mudbrick house for the first time. It was late evening that day, around 6pm, and my counterpart helped me unload all my possessions in Cameroon into the house, and then drove away. My things didn’t take long to unload; everything I owned on that cool dry-season evening was a mattress, some blankets, two suitcases, my metal trunk, a stove, a gas bottle, six metal plates and a single large spoon. I spent that first lonely night on the verge of tears, failing to connect my gas bottle to my stove so I could cook my Easy Mac (for those who don’t know, the hose tightens to the left, not the right), and then lying on my mattress on my empty floor and listening to drunk strangers yell in the night for a long, long time before I could finally get to sleep. Continue reading What Success Means to Me→
By: Sarah Price
I am about to finish reading The Poisonwood Bible for the first time. I think I would recommend it, although I really don’t know how much of it I would understand or be able to accept if I were not living here in Cameroon. I think a lot of it would horrify me if I hadn’t already seen much of what the book describes (the poverty and daily life of the Congolese people, or some of their beliefs and traditions that I am slowly but surely trying to understand). Modern day Cameroon is of course not exactly like the Congo in the 60s-80s, and my village, with a large main paved road riding right through it, is not the tiny hidden bush village of Kilanga that the Price (lovely yet terrifying coincidence of names there…) Family found themselves in. However, the observations of the Price girls resonate very much with my experience here, as does the incessant guilt and insecurity of being a white girl in a country that is still struggling with the aftermaths of colonialism and contact with the Western world. Continue reading This is not Brussels or Moscow or Macon, Georgia→
Ok, so let’s discuss success and failure from the perspective of a Peace Corps Volunteer. First of all, I’m a big believer that success is not a “black and white” definition – and neither is failure for that matter. Success can mean so many things to so many different people. I think the word success can too easily get tied up with two factors: achievement and money. When people back home ask me if my service has been successful so far, they mainly want to know what I have achieved, what my numbers were for this and how many people did this, and of course the next question always has to do with how much money I made, or how much money I got for something. Continue reading Success is a State of Mind→