To get anywhere in this town quickly you have to take motto taxi. They are ubiquitous around town and cost 100FCFA or $0.20 to go most anywhere except maybe the hospital. The other day I hopped on one to get to my Youth Group meeting. The meeting was near the “Places des Fêtes”, a well knowing landmark near the meeting where all the parades for Youth Day, Women’s day and whatever else are held. So as we speed away down the main street this is the conversation:
-Places des Fêtes
- You don’t know where that’s at?
- No I’m new in town, just got here from Mbang (a small logging town south of here deeper into the forest)
- Oh? Why’d you leave?
- Well, I used to be a driver down there, but I got into an accident and killed three people so they put me in jail here in Batouri (which happens to be right next to my house)
- Yeah they just let me out yesterday, but they won’t let me drive anything but a motto anymore, so here I am!
-…….umm you know what, just drop me right here
That’s one reason I walk almost everywhere unless I’m in a hurry or it’s anytime between 1230 and 230pm during the dry season. The oppressive midday heat, glaring sun and suffocating humidity can quickly drain you. A simple 30 min walk into town leaves you dripping with sweat, actually its doesn’t drip too much as all the dust sticks to you and soaks it up while leaving you with a nice orange tint. I could almost bottle this stuff and sell it in some yuppie mall back in the states as an “All natural African tanning solution.” You also get some impressive sweat stains if you’re wearing the Peace Corps required business casual. It’s kind of embarrassing to show up for my meetings looking like I just finished a marathon and OD’d on some rub-on tanner.
Valentines day marks 3 weeks to the day until I leave for IST, In-Service Training for all the volunteers of this past health stage. It marks the end of the first 3 months, supposedly some of the hardest months here. And more importantly after this we are allowed to use our vacation days, of which we accumulate 2 days for each month of volunteer service (though unfortunately weekends count as vacation days…). It’s going to be amazing to see everyone from stage and hear how everyone else’s poste is going. Each person has such a different experience that there’s no way to describe the “typical” volunteer experience. Even Rachel who’s only 90km down the road (which, however, can translate into 5 hours of travel time as Rach found out last week!), has had an entirely different experience. And I’m not going to lie, its going to be great to get out of Batouri and the East province for a bit.
Oh, I forgot to relay the story of my friends monkey. He had just gotten back from the states in the process of leaving PC and joining on with a company based out of Batouri. When he got back he found out that his pet monkey was eaten alive my ants in his house. All that was left waiting for him was a pile of bones…
Its stuff like that that keeps life from getting too boring around here, no matter how slow work is going. Hope everyone is well and am enjoying reading everyones comment!