The Five Stages of Cameroon

1. Denial

Surely, surely, that is not a person selling a porcupine in the road. How could it be? Who does that? And that person there, they’re not actually being blatantly racist by screaming Whiteman in my face, are they? No, no, of course not… The smog is not actually so thick it gives me a headache. The water isn’t actually that cold and full of amoebas. These people aren’t actually so poor that 20 cents is worth stealing. Cheese doesn’t really cost upwards of ten dollars here. Good god that smell just couldn’t be the mixture of burning trash and human waste-product that it appears to be. It just…can’t…

2. Anger

Would these fricking taxis stop trying to run me over? I know the fare is 150, why the hell does everyone keep trying to cheat me! If one more person asks for my bike, I swear to god… Why is it so hot for half the year? Why is it freezing for the other half? What is with this rain? I’m going to punch that market mami right in the face if she calls me Whiteman one more time. Next person to make fun of the way I talk by holding their nose while they speak is getting slapped. Out of my way, world, ‘cause I’m pissed. That means you, too, dude telling me you love me. Say it again and I’m shanking you with my house keys.

3. Bargaining

If I go running this morning that means I can have puff puff and beans for breakfast, right? Maybe, if I go to that meeting at the school today then light will come back tonight. Okay, I’ll strike a deal: I will endure the seven hours on a bumpy road to go get money out of the bank but, I’ll also get to go to that one American restaurant. And order something with fries. I will watch HALF of one more episode of West Wing before bed, and then if I get up before nine I get to watch the other half tomorrow. Do the dishes, Georgia, and then you can heat up TWO buckets of water for a shower.

4. Depression

I’m watching the entire fifth season of It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia—what else is there to do? I suppose it’ll just rain and rain until one day, I drown in my sleep from a flash flood. Light will never come back. I’ll live like a caveman for the next year at post. Water’s going to be gone forever, too. I’m going to live by the stream like a hobo and nobody will care. None of my projects are going to work. None of these people will remember me. This car’s going way to fast, but screw it, at least I’m comfortable. I might as well just find out a new way to make tasty American food. I’m probably going to get cancer from this place. I’m going to take a nap. Again.

5. Acceptance

That’s just the way it is. Sometimes you’ve got to cram four people into the back seat—time to learn how to sit on one cheek. No, you don’t get to drink milk here, but you do get cheap fruit, and that’s pretty cool, too. Your bad accent sounds ridiculous, but at least they kind of understand you. Some light is better than no light, and you get to wake up every day in a place so beautiful that it could inspire the Garden of Eden. People back home are effusive with their support and haven’t forgotten you, even if you don’t talk as much as you used to. The joy of a package outweighs the misery of rainy season. Villagers will remember you for a while, but even if they don’t you hope it’s the things you teach they hold onto, not your personality or quirks. Two years goes faster than you’d think.

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2 thoughts on “The Five Stages of Cameroon

  1. OH honey, you sound a little distressed. It will get brighter and things will look better tomorrow. Hope you are getting settled in and can get some routine to your life. That helps. You sorta got turned up side down with this move. I love the way you have your room fixed. I am not sure whether this is a permanent place or just waiting to be placed. If I were there I would have my arms wrapped around you. Love u, Love u, Love u

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