Cameroon / Life / Peace Corps / Volunteering

Satisfyingly Busy

Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.

I can hardly find the inspiration to write it all down because everything feels so normal. I am more or less starting to dwell on the fact that I will be leaving this place, and a piece of me behind when I go, which is something I don’t necessarily want to think about. Although something whispers into my soul that I will be back, that the people and culture have soaked into me enough that I will be connected for the rest of my life no matter what.

I have just come down the stairs and noticed a crowd of people at the Carrefour. Then a moto revs up and speeds away, and 30 children run behind, screaming. Qu’est-ce qui se passé? I ask my landlady, who I call la maman du quartier, and she tells me that a woman was on the moto. Apparently someone bet this woman that she could not drive a moto, and she obviously proved them wrong. Good for her! And this is the only thing about my day that reminds me how different the cultures are.

I have been eating out a little too much. When there is grilled fish always available in the evening time just a few minutes away, it’s hard to resist. Especially since cooking takes so much time here. It’s so easy to cut up a papaya in the morning for breakfast after doing cardio, but lunch and dinner is another story. I prefer spending my time, anyway, on applications for funding for the water well I am determined to have installed for the Kentaja orphans by the time I leave this country. Or preparing a radio show that happens every Tuesday evening. Or organizing the Savings for Youth project that will be put into action during our tour at the end of this month. I have a pile of wooden banks in my spare bedroom, ready to go. It was my turn to lesson plan this week for Tim and I’s Club Success that we do with high school students here, based from the book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. It always gives me a good French lesson to translate the ideas, and teaching young adults to live according to their principles feels like the right thing to do. I will be going to a cultural festival in Batibo this weekend, on the 22nd. I have been preparing to perform a few songs there. I am satisfyingly busy.

Eric is coming to visit me in January, and I have been making itineraries and talking to Ernest and other friends about when he will be here. It’s funny to see someone else so excited because someone I care about is coming. Ernest swells up with pride when he’s telling his friend that our friend is coming to visit. I don’t think I will have much left to do with all the organizing that Ernest is doing.

And I’m at war with a mouse. Or maybe more than one, I don’t know how many there are at this point. They have just recently stepped way over their boundaries in my home. Just a minute ago I saw one just walking down my hallway like he owns the place, before noticing me and running and hopping away. I cornered him in my closet, but I am so afraid of mice that I don’t want to get too close to them, and this one in particular resembled a hamster, just looking at me with big black eyes. All the more reason for wanting him out. But he hops and I scream and we’re in another situation full of adrenaline, one that we both don’t envy. I originally planned to catch him by throwing a sheet on top of him, but then I realized that I would actually have to pin him down then or else he would just run out from underneath it. I grabbed the Axe body spray… I figured it would be strong enough to drown him in fumes, and if nothing else the room would smell good and remind me of Sminu for the next week. But he outsmarted me, gathering enough courage to leap out and run past me, as I stood there screaming like a fool, thinking to myself this situation is definitely not one I know how to handle appropriately. I miss Franck. He killed two of them while he was here during his time here with a designated mouse killing stick. But I don’t even have enough guts to pick it up because I can’t tell which end is for your hand and which end is the part that squashes the others.

As I am sad about leaving, I am excited about returning home to see everyone at my roots once again. I often fantasize about cheese and driving my own car and sleeping on a comfortable mattress.

I am also excited about my upcoming adventure of going to the Philippines, experiencing life there, trying to learn the language, and broadening my knowledge once again in a cultural, spiritual kind of way. I am excited about experiencing the music business, and seeing where I land in 6 months.

I also realize that I need to think about money and investments in the near future, and don’t want to run from it. On top of a couple student loans, I have a kid to support now, and my very own ideas to try out in the way of business. I in no way want a lifestyle that splurges and spends money (I think I would feel guilty buying things I don’t really need, given what kind of circumstances I have seen here and just how thankful I am to live in such a prosperous country), but a lifestyle that is instead invested and committed to the common good of people in need. This is my goal now. I have experienced how fulfilling life is when I spend it thinking of others. Not to sound like I’m a saint or anything; it really just feels good when I come home after a day I devoted to the people around me that are in need of something that I can give them- be it time, knowledge, understanding or hope.

About Tara

Tara received her degree in French and Communications before jetting off to serve Cameroon for 2 years with the Peace Corps. She has forever since been inspired to serve in humanitarian projects around the world. She's a writer, tour guide, business owner, property manager, wifey, dog mom, and traveler. Tara lives in Dallas, Texas, where she's happily married to the tech genius who keeps her website pretty.