Today was not my day.
Not my day at all.
I woke up to find that at some point during the night Njamma Njamma pulled a ‘Santa Claus’ and left me presents in the living room to find after fitful sleep in melt-worthy weather.
Holding my breath and temper I cleaned everything up, and focused on getting breakfast served to my Cameroonian canine. I reached for the rice on the bottom shelf, and as soon as I managed to lift it a few inches the wrapper split, filling my eardrums with the sound of grains hitting the floor. An entire kilo of rice was now dispersed throughout my kitchen.
While cleaning it up, I manage to impale the ball of my foot on a fish vertebra, the remains of something the dog had obviously absconded with the day before. If you’ve ever stepped on a tack you know my pain. Cursing and flustered I recovered from the piscine attack on my littlest piggies and finished up breakfast for Njamma, since breakfast plans for me had now changed. It was time for puff puff and beans.
I put on a new dress and hopped a bike towards the puff puff mami nearest my office. Zooming past people walking to school, work, or wherever I was determined to turn this frown upside down. I waved and greeted. I had on a cute dress, cool shades, and was about to drown my sorrows in fried goodness. Nothing could get me down.
…And nothing did get me down. Well, until the mud.
It had rained the night before. Due to the awesome combination of dirt road and no drainage, the road to puff puff and beans was waterlogged and gloopy. No bother, I was determined. I’ll just speed up before I hit the mud patches, I thought.
Mud stopped my bike like someone had stuck a stick in the spokes. I toppled to one side and found myself ankle deep in mud. Flip flops were a poor choice. I soldiered on, marching through the inches of mud for another 100 feet or so until land became a little drier. Sure, my feet were awful, but puff puff would solve that.
Finally pulling up to the pp&b hut, I was met with raucous laughter. “Whiteman di suffer plenty!” seemed to be the chortle of choice. I was promptly informed that my breakfast of champions had been demolished by a horde of school children and that I was too late. Back through the mud I went. My braving the muck was for naught.
Shaken and on edge, I took another route to the drier part of the road. Through the grass I trudged, trying to not get flustered. Things would be fine. I would be fine. The worst was over.
I carefully eased my bike onto a plank that bridge the (useless) ditch separating the houses from the muddy road. All the mud caked onto my tires caused a slip, and the bike went flying. There toppled in the mud laid my bike, upside down and covered in filth. I shuffled my own way across to try to retrieve it and slipped, too. Hands down in the mud, lucky to not be on my ass, I felt both my flip flops snap with a jerk. I couldn’t hold back any longer: I started to cry.
Crying because yesterday I burned my leg on a motorcycle. Crying because I, in the past 24 hours, had somehow managed to flood my kitchen and break part of my laptop. Crying because my project was eaten my dog the night before and my lock still hadn’t been replaced from when I lost my keys on Women’s Day. Crying because I was hungry. Crying because I was hot and tired and dirty. Crying because now, as I struggled to right myself in the muck of Nguti, I had a chorus of taunts ringing out behind me. People stood on their porches, pointing and laughing. Entire families held their bellies hootin’ and hollerin’ as I sobbing, dirty, and barefoot made my way back to my office. Nobody offered to help. I was at the end of my rope.
I arrived an utter wreck, mascara running down my face and globs of dirt adorning my dress. My postmate’s counterpart was at our office and met me on the porch. In what went down in one of the kindest acts anyone’s ever done for me, he grabbed a bucket, fetched water and replacement shoes. AsI told him about how my nerves were broken and I was dying a little bit, he helped me wash my feet and rubbed my back and told me it would all be okay. He went out on his motorcycle to see if he could spot my broken mud-logged flip flops, but it was to no avail. Someone had taken them as a trophy.
Soon Postmate Kate showed up and patted my back and listened as I cried all over again, nerves still wracking my body. It was all too much. I needed a break. In an effort to look on the bright side I drew a collage of all the things about Cameroon I did like (I’ll try to post it if the internet allows) and vowed to somehow acquire puff puff and beans for dinner.
So, dear reader, here I am. The story has a happy ending. My belly done flop from too much puff puff and beans, I’ve watched a few episodes of 30 Rock, my vicious puppy somehow feels like cuddling, and I finished my 27th book since I got to Cameroon today. All’s well that ends well, I suppose. Tomorrow is another day, one that hopefully includes less mud. On the bright side, I suppose it’s time to go shoe shopping.