This is a personal account and does not express the views of the US Peace Corps

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Goodbye for now

I couldn’t bear to write this post. I’ve had editions and renditions, notes and reminders on my computer, phone and planner for months to do this. But it breaks my heart. This is a final nail in the coffin of my Peace Corps experience.
Months ago, I began this post writing this:

 This blogpost has been a long time coming. I kept on putting it off because I felt like writing this means that my experience is truly over. I’m not going back. I am a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, officially.

A lot has happened since my last update. I was able to leave Yaounde and go back to post to say goodbye and pack up, which is unusual. I am so grateful that I had that chance. My sister, Kelley, just happened to have a visit scheduled for this time. So that was absolutely perfect. I left Yaounde just in time to meet her plane in Maroua. She got off the plane and man, was that a sight for sore eyes. I mean, we had debated whether or not she was even going to come because of everything being up in the air, but I really felt like I wanted her, needed her even, to come. I needed a witness. I needed someone back home that I could reminisce with or just someone to understand where I was coming from if I did something strange.

So she came. In her bags, she carried delicious American treats, hugs, and instructions from my parents as to how to get me home as safely as possible (which, mom and dad, she followed almost to a T). Since my spleen was enlarged, I had to be a bit careful. I couldn’t ride motos (pretty much the only form of transportation in the north), I couldn’t play sports or get hit in the left side; stuff like that. But it wasn’t that big of a deal. We worked around it.

Kelley arrived and we immediately went to village. I probably should have let us stay in Maroua for a day or two to make the culture shock a little less, but I wanted to get back in time for my last women’s meeting. Kelley was a pro though, she handled the four hour bumpy, hot, dry, dusty car ride like a pro; barely complaining at all.

We got to my house and, of course, there was no electricity, but there were the puppies (!) greeting us with yelps of fear at the door. Apparently the neighborhood kids have been less than kind to them, or maybe they just hadn’t seen anyone since I left a few weeks before. They were still breastfeeding so its possible my neighbors didn’t even come in to check on them. They were so big and cute! Kelley instantly took a liking to them and was sorely disappointed when they didn’t come up kissing and playing like most puppies.

We made ourselves a little dinner and sat down to enjoy the amazing mountain stars. I was so worried that Kelley wouldn’t like my post, or wouldn’t feel comfortable, but I think she had a great time.

The next morning, we woke up early to explore a little and go to my women’s meeting. We had beans and beignets with Asta and then went down to the market. Kelley was completely disgusted by the meat market where they were chopping a full grown cow up right in front of us. We got some entrails for Nous-Nous (mama dog) for her dinner and some fruit for us before heading back to the meeting.

Not many women showed up but the ones who were there were some of my favorite. I hadn’t told anyone I was leaving yet, so I took this meeting to tell them and went over the logistics of how I was being replaced (I’ll go more into that later). The reaction I got surprised. Women started crying and walking out. I felt like it was a funeral! I had no idea I had such an impact on these women. I was amazed and flattered, which at the same time horrified that I was leaving them in this manner. Women rocked and cried and prayed for me. They laughed and joked with us too, but most of the time they were just somber.

Now, months later, I’m sure I can finish that beautiful blow by blow of my last fews days in Cameroon. Suffice it to say it was heart-wrenching and beautiful. It was an amazing time that I will never forget.

One of my last few nights there, Kelley and I escaped the endless bouts of exit interviews and paperwork and went to Limbe with some friends. We ate, drank and lounged as if my life wasn’t changing days from then. Friends from around the country came, shared a meal with us, and said goodbye. It was glorious. One of the nights, we had a bonfire on a cliff overlooking the black sand beaches. It was late at night, the stars were out, our spirits were high. So of course, what else could one do, but go for a midnight skinny dip. As we ran into the water, it started lighting up beneath us. There was phytoplankton in the water. I’d never seen anything like it. We splashed and bounced around, making the water around us turn an eerie green. It was nature’s way of giving me a goodbye gift, a beautiful experience I will never forget.

My whole time in Cameroon is unforgettable. It has changed me in ways I didn’t anticipate and didn’t even see until I got back, both in good and bad ways. Looking back, I would do it all over again, and again, and again.

Since leaving, so much has happened. On the Cameroon front, recently only bad news has reached my ears. As soon as three weeks after I departed, and found a wonderful volunteer to take my place, a French family vacationing in the Extreme North was kidnapped by the Boko Haram, a Muslim insurgency group based out of Nigeria. They were protesting France’s participation in the Mali uprising and response. My post, which was a border-town, was shut down immediately, followed very closely by many nearby posts. The entire region went into consolidation while they decided what to do and what was safest for the volunteers.

Last week, they officially closed the Extreme North. The volunteers are all being shuttled to other regions and posts or going home early with “Interrupted Service” Status. My heart is broken. Terrorism has robbed people, both local and volunteers, of sorely needed experiences. Aid and help is being denied to the region that arguably needs it the most. My friends in Mogode, as they would say it, are being abandoned by our organization. “Tu m’abondone?”

Back here, stateside, I’m still adjusting. I still get overwhelmed in restaurants and grocery stores where choice and waste are overpowering. I’ve moved to DC and live with my older sister and am in the process of reconnecting with nearby family. I’m adjusting to life, sometimes with gusto, and sometimes with fear.  But slowly, life goes on. I’ve filed my taxes, had my identity stolen, joined a gym and had some dates. I have a chinchilla. And a job. And a home. And running water and electricity all the time!

The other day, when our dryer was broken, I caught myself getting worked up about it. I stopped and had to remind myself that just a short time ago, I was spending all my Sundays washing my clothes by hand. How dare I be upset about having to hang my clothes up to dry for a few days! I find my brain is constantly riddled with the phrase “#firstworldproblem”. I try not to say it aloud though J

Health wise, all is looking well. I spent my first few weeks back in a health center in San Diego. I haven’t felt ill since. My bloodwork looks normal and my spleen is reducing in size. Without getting too graphic, let me just say all is well.

My next steps? A better job. An opportunity to travel and help the world. And medical school. My sights are still set on changing the world, one uterus at a time.

So I end my Cameroonian adventures on this blog, but I pray they’re not my last. My hopes and dreams point to journeys and explorations of my mind, languages, and this beautiful, hopeful world.

I apologize from the bottom of my heart to my faithful readers whom I have abandoned with a cliff hanger. I hope that you will one day forgive me and choose to travel with me as I explore and grow.

With love, a heavy heart, and a hopeful view, I thank you again for your support and close this chapter of my life. 

Friday, November 30, 2012

News: Both Good and Bad

To my friends, family and readers;

This post is hard to write. What does one say at the beginning of the end? At the beginning there’s “once upon a time” or “a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away”. At the end there’s always “and they lived happily ever after” or “Fin”. What about the beginning of the end? What does one say?

I’ll back up. The end of my last blog post mentioned that I was sick. I spent a few weeks in Yaoundé on Medical Hold waiting for first one test and then another. The general consensus was “a mono-like virus”. One that will affect me for a few months but should be fine. I might feel tired or get sick sometimes, but it would take care of itself.

So that’s what happened. I was tired, and sick, spiking a few fevers here and there, picking up strep throat; again, nothing big. I came down to Yaounde for some follow up tests that basically said things were going well. I was still sick, but that was fine. After spiking a fever at the Medical Office though, they sent me in for a few more tests and found that my spleen was enlarged. Now this is not a big deal. This happens pretty often in the states. Most mono cases are accompanied by splenomagaly, as well as some infections. Mine was probably caused by my virus. The only difference in circumstance is, well, that: circumstance. I live in a village, way out in the bush far away from emergency medical services. I take a two hour moto ride to get to my village. If something were to happen, for example me falling off a moto, or getting elbowed in the side, my spleen could rupture. In the states, while that’s a pretty big deal, you’re never really that far from a hospital. Here, I would bleed out before I even made it to a facility that would think it was anything but sorcery. The chances of my spleen rupturing are minimal, but they do exist.

For this reason, a team of doctors, me, and my family have decided that it’s best if I finish my service early and go back to the good old US of A.

This decision is surrounded by so many conflicting emotions. I am so deeply sad that I will be leaving Cameroon before I was even able to get running. I felt like I was just getting my bearings, just getting ready to take off when the rug was pulled out from beneath me. I’m heartbroken about leaving my friends, both American and Cameroonian, before I was expecting to. My training mates will continue in their service, travelling together, working together, sharing adventures, stories, and beers, and I won’t be there. My house, my dog, my puppies and the new kitten I was getting, those will all be abandoned by me. I am joining the ranks of the worst training class in Cameroonian history, with more volunteers leaving than any other training class, I think ever! I’m becoming a statistic

On the other hand, this is ok. I’m taking care of myself and allowing myself to be taken care of. I GET TO SEE MY FAMILY! I get to see my friends! I’ll have warm showers everyday, electricity, washing machines, real mattresses, good food. And my family! I can’t say that I’m not ecstatic about all that.

I’ve had a few days to mull this information over. My first instinct was to run into my room and cry, which I did. But I’ve had time now and am in a much better place.

Cameroon has given me so many gifts. One of them is flexibility. Expectations are never met here. People either always exceed them or always fall short. You learn not to rely on expectations at all. Because of this newfound… skill (can we call it a skill? That’s what it feels like) I’m able to pick myself up and move on. I’m excited about going home and anxious about my prospects. While I may not have achieved what I’d hoped to here in Cameroon, I wouldn’t trade this time in for anything. I’ve learned so much, grown so much, and had my mind and attitudes expanded. I met amazing people and learned so many new things that will change my life! And so, I’m grateful for Cameroon, my time here, and all the many lessons (good, bad, hard and easy) that I’ve had the opportunity to learn and teach here.

But leaving isn’t easy. Peace Corps was amazing enough to grant me time to go back to village and close up my post; get some closure. My sister had plans to come visit me, so we’re going through with that. She’ll be here to help me close up, meet my friends as I say goodbye and witness my life and work in Mogode and Cameroon.

I’ve had tearful conversations with friends here, telling them I’m leaving, saying goodbye. Those have been the hardest. I am leaving, abandoning my friends here. We all support one another so much. I have friends that I call when I’m feeling sick, sad, lonely, or just pissed to find another dead lizard in my house. And they call me. Our web of support is weakening as our friends leave. This is melodramatic. It’s hard to find the words to describe the tangled emotional blanket I’ve got inside me right now.

So now I have a few weeks. I’ll be leaving the country before Christmas, maybe with my sister. We’ll get to say goodbye to my village, friends, home, and animals together. We get to travel together. I’m really looking forward to this.

So my mantra right now is “one day at a time”. I could be freaking out about where I’m going to live; what I’m going to do since I’ll be jobless, broke, and kinda homeless (shout out to everyone who has offered a bed or a couch to me). I could be freaking out about how many time I need to poop in a cup before they’ll let me leave country (it’s at least three times, by the way). I could be worrying about who’s going to be thinking what? Or where I’m going to be for Christmas? Or any number of things, but instead, I’m going to do this in African time and take it slow. Things will come together. I’m sure of it.

So thank you readership, for your support and kind words these last 16 months. I would never have made it this far without you. You’ve been an outlet and a constant source of upbeat energy in my life.

This is not my last post. Not by far… stay tuned for my last adventures with my trusty sidekick, Kelley. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Work and other things

So I haven’t really talk about work recently. I’ve been focusing more on life here in Cameroon as opposed to what I’ve been doing. But I’ve been working hard on a project in Mogode that takes up most of my time in village.

A few months ago, I started designing my “big project”: my legacy, the project that will take up most of my time. The proposals are in the work section of my blog but I’ll sum it up here for you. My idea is that all the groups that I work with start working together for the common cause of preventing malnutrition. The program I designed is being implemented in two small villages close to Mogode and Mogode itself, with hopes that if it proves effective, the next volunteer will expand it to the entire County. Basically though, Diedonne comes in once a month and does vaccination while introducing the “Health Topic of the Month” to the mother’s who get their kids vaccinated. Then, trained women in the community take over and hold two information sessions after Church on Sundays on the same topic. They will be giving more information and practical uses for that information such as how to make tofu or filter and treat your water. These women are also being trained to identify signs of malnutrition and encourage mothers to go to the hospital, where they can then be treated for free.

So basically, these Sundays will be a little information fest, with posters and activities in all these villages. Every month, the topic will change and new women will be in charge of the information fest in each village. To make sure it will stay alive and that it’s a sustainable project, these women are going to be working closely with the hospital. Once a month, the “experts” of the month will meet with Diedonne, and some staff from the hospital. There, everyone will go over the topic of the month, refresh their memories, catch up on new information, ect. So, hopefully, after everyone is trained, it will become a self-sustaining system with women teaching women and the hospital making sure that all the information is up to date and correct.

Some cool by products of this project is that some women will also be presenting at the hospital during Prenatal visit days to pregnant women. The women will have a small but steady cash flow with the soap and lotion sales that they are doing. Also, we will be working with Traditional Birth Attendants to try to encourage women who need to go to the hospital, to go and to hopefully make home birthing a safer endeavour.

In order to make this happen though, I have a lot of people to train. All the women need to be trained in their selective topics to become the “experts” of the month. In addition, Dieudonne will need to be trained as well. 

So that’s the plan! PC is going to help us fund the project, paying for transportation, food, materials, ect. We’re waiting for the funding cycle to kick in and to get approved, but I have high hopes that it will be fine.

The only other little hiccup that we’ve encountered is my lack of presence. Last month, I came back to post from the capital with so many plans. I made meeting after meeting for the next month. We scheduled our first training module and had plans for the women to start doing presentations in Nov. I was so excited. And two days later I got sick.

This is the reason for my long silence. Turns out I had malaria. But underneath the malaria, I have also contracted a virus of some sort. On the plus side though, I’ve seen how PC handles stuff like this and I’m super impressed. On the third day of my fever, PC sent a car to come and get me and bring me to a hospital. The guys had to travel over 11 hours to come get me. After a few days of non-successful visits to the Maroua hospital, our medical officer had me come to Yaounde to check it out. They were extremely thorough, kind, and attentive. So, you guys can rest easy. Bottom line, while we don’t know the exact kind of virus, we know in general the type of virus. So I’ll be sick for a bit, but they’re on top of it. Unfortunately, that means that I have to go to Yaounde regularly and get checked out. Meaning that I won’t be at post for long periods of time for an unknown amount of time. Which sucks. This puts my project a little behind schedule.  And this leads for an uneventful month full of travel and hospital visits. But all is well, work is progressing, and I’ll keep you all updated. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Some Pics

Diedonne as we walk to our Vaccination Site for the day

The inundated river we had to ford.

Women's group making Neem soap and Lotion

Finished products

Floods galore

Flooding in Northern Cameroon!

The seasons of Cameroon have been a frequent topic of this blog. But today we’re going to revisit it from a different perspective. This rainy season has seen the most rain in 60 years. All around northern Cameroon, towns and fields are flooding, people are being displaced and some are dying.

And I had absolutely no idea. So much for local news!

As the end of rainy season drew nigh, I did see some signs. It’s been raining almost everyday. The roads are terrible, and the electricity is off about 90% of the time. I might get a few hours a week.

A few weeks ago, when going out on a vaccination campaign, we came across a river that had swollen too much to be able to cross it by moto. So we hiked up our pants, walked across this river, and continued our way on foot. I didn’t think a whole lot of it. Just another adventure.

Then, Luke, my postmate, stopped coming in to town. A few weeks ago, I rode my bike out to his post. It was extremely challenging and I had to ford a few rivers with my bike. Apparently though, those rivers are so large now, that you can’t get across. Luke is literally stuck in his little village after heavy rains. He can’t leave unless he drives almost an hour out of the way. To get to Mogode which is south west of Vite, he has to go north for 20 minutes then all the way another large village before hitting the main road and going in the opposite direction for 30 minutes to get to Mogode. I also didn’t think a whole lot of this. I figured this was something that happened every rainy season.

Then we started hearing crazy stories. Last week 3 people died as they tried to cross different streams-turned-rivers on their motos and drowned. Sometimes they find the bodies, sometimes they don’t. There’s a weekly count of the people who drowned trying to cross the different rivers. Most of those are “en brusse” and relatively far away, so I never know the people who drown, but still, it’s a little crazy.

Last Friday, while chilling at the hospital for vaccination day, some guys came over from Rhumsiki, telling us about a house that collapsed during the rainfall the night before. The huts are made out of simple mud bricks. If they get too wet, they turn back to mud. This particular house slept 10 people. It collapsed in the middle of the night, killing 3 people, including a very old man.

And still, I thought this was normal. Very sad, of course. But the normal, rainy season, tragedies, right along with Cholera, Malaria, and Typhoid. And actually, I’m not sure that it isn’t normal. Maybe this kind of stuff happens every year. That would be sad, but it’s possible.

Then I came into Maroua, into the big city, where one gets news of the rest of the country, the world, and of course, has access to internet. Apparently, the country was flooding. The bridge to go south had washed out. Garoua was awash. Hundreds of villages had been completely covered by water and washed out. Volunteers were chilling in Maroua, waiting for rivers to go down so they could go back to post.

I took a bus down to Garoua yesterday and witnessed it for myself. Garoua is a pretty big city situated down in the bottom of a basin. Typically it’s surrounded by flat farmland, with mountains in the distance. It is the hottest city in Cameroon. For a while, we didn’t see anything, except maybe some washed out trees and puddles. Then, all of the sudden, we took a turn and to our left was a lake that wasn’t there before. You could see the tops of trees and the remains of some crops and what might have been homes sticking out through the water. But the water went on for miles it seemed. It was absolutely crazy. Except for the random plants sticking up, you couldn’t be certain that the lake hadn’t always been there. As we got closer, it got worse. Rivers were swollen to easily 20 times their normal size. We saw people poling boats, looking at the new banks, looking for things, probably lost belongings. Entire fields of dead corn poked up beside the road. It was ghostly. And completely insane.

How could a country be drowned like this and we hadn’t heard a word of it in village? Absolutely insane. Just goes to show the importance of news, I guess.

So, what is being done for these people whose homes have been destroyed, family members drowned and livelihoods ruined? I’m not entirely sure. We saw  two semi trucks heading up towards Garoua with Red Cross flags hanging from their grills. That was promising. O yeah and Paul Biya, the President came to visit the families. Although I’m pretty sure he did more harm than good. As he drove up the main road, he shut it down to all traffic for fear of assassination (apparently we recently removed two Garoua council members from office). So for at least four hours, the one and only road coming into Garoua from the South was blocked. Trucks, buses and cars were lined up for miles; food spoiling in the hot sun; tourists and residents alike stalled in their travels. What normally took 9 hours to do by bus took us 15 hours. How could stopping all traffic possibly help these people?! And what possible support or help did he bring or offer? I don’t know, but I have a feeling it wasn’t a lot.

But people here are resilient and community based. As the rains die away, people will come back by the thousands with family members to help them rebuild. In a few months, you’ll hardly be able to tell entire towns had been washed away. Hopefully aide will come in the form of money or goods so these people won’t starve until their next harvest, but even if there isn’t, families stick together here. Kids will be send to uncles and aunts. Money will be sent to the families and they’ll make it through. It will be hard, but they are a strong people. 

Monday, September 17, 2012


My life has been surprisingly blessed. In this particular blogpost, I’m referring to the fact that death has never been a major character in my life. There have been very few people that I have loved and lost. Before this summer, that number was 2, my paternal grandmother, who died right after teaching me how to read, and my great aunt, who passed away a few winters ago. There have been other people to come and go in my life, but these are the two that I really associated with my idea of death.

Then I worked as EMT, and my idea changed a little bit. The first time you perform CPR on someone who is pronounced dead as soon as you arrive at the hospital, you feel like you’re wearing death on your gloves. Or when you arrive on scene to a patient that had no pulse when you arrived but a little bit of nar-can had him up and running. But after every call, at the end of every day, you throw out those gloves, take off your uniform and go back to your relatively death-less life.

This past month though, I’ve felt like I’ve had a grim reaper riding on my shoulder. Friends (both in America and in Cameroonian) have passed away and really close friends of mine have been touched by loss. I watched a man get hit by a bus and there was nothing I could do for him. For a few weeks there, I was convinced I was cursed. Scratch that, I’m still not totally convinced I’m not. But the point is, I was experiencing it from all sides.

This Sunday, my landlord passed away. He had been sick for a long time and I had grown really close to his wife. I was literally on my way over to his house when my neighbor caught me and told me that he had passed away while she was in church. I was caught completely off guard and went silently with her to go pay my respects.

Although I’ve had two other Cameroonian friends pass away while I was here, I was not physically there when they passed and wasn’t able to be a part of their funerals. So this was my first Cameroonian funeral.

I was scared. I had no idea what the traditions were. Was I supposed to bring something or say something? I was clueless. So I walked into that room blind. I found my friend, on the floor, crying silently. She was surrounded by three other women that I didn’t know who were also crying.  I sat down close to her, with a whispered condolence as the three other women started wailing. And I mean, they were wailing. Not like crying. Wailing. It sounded worse than a three-year old having a tantrum. They screamed and sobbed and screamed some more. I was scared shitless. Personally, I was tearless. I was way more frightened than sad. I looked over at my friend who had come with me and she had silently buried her face in her shawl.

We sat there in that room for hours, watching as the room filled up with mourners. I began to realize that instead of speaking condolences, the women would try to just out-do each other by crying. One women ran into the room, her top completely undone screaming at the top of her lungs. She grabbed Raissa (the wife) and just started throwing her around the room in a bear hug while screaming, sobbing, and yelling. It was absolutely terrifying. And as soon as one person started crying, the rest of the room would start up again with sniffles and wails. I don’t know how close these women were with my landlord, but after about the 30th time this sobbing wailing happened, I began to realize that it’s not necessarily the strength of their pain that they’re sobbing, but their condolence. I don’t feel like I’m explaining this well. In a way, it was a drama-queen thing. Crying and screaming louder than that other people in the room was “winning”. But in another way, it was your way of showing that you were supporting Raissa and there for her and feeling her pain.

But Raissa wasn’t into it. She would avoid the sobs and wails as much as politely possible, stuck a veil over her face and didn’t say a word. I stayed in that room for hours, watching this spectacle and feeling their pain, listening to their cries. It was absolutely horrifying.

Today though, I went back. In their Muslim tradition, for the first three days, the house is open to everyone to come, eat, sleep, reminisce and grieve. Easily 50 women spent those days with Raissa. Then everyone but the family leaves and they mourn for 7 days. Then everyone but the immediate family leaves and they mourn on their own, except for the 40th day, in which you celebrate the 40th day of mourning.

So I went there this morning, still completely clueless. A friend had told me to bring some food, so I arrived with a bagful of beignets, expecting the horrible scene that I had left. But it was so different. 30 different women were sitting outside Raissa’s bedroom, talking laughing and sleeping on mats. There are 10 women who were making buckets of food. And when I say buckets, I mean buckets. There were huge washing basins filled with dough for “gateau” (it means cake, but it’s not really cake). Women were sitting around drinking bouille (kind of like a porridge). Raissa I found sitting in a corner in a hot stuffy room alone, not partaking, just mourning. I sat with her for a bit and then joined the women outside.

They welcomed me with smile and plied me with bouille. They tested my Fuldulde and my Kapsiki vocabularly. Some women were explaining funeral traditions to me (take down pictures and cover all mirrors). All of the sudden, all the women on the mats got up. Where they went, I can’t be sure. But suddenly, this hall of laughing women turned into a bustling fast food kitchen. Rocks were brought over to balance trays on. Fires were started and “gateau” was prepared. It was amazing. Every fire had 2-3 women tending it. There were all laughing and working together. Women of all ages. Some were speaking Fulfulde and some were speaking Kapsiki, but they were definitely all on the same page. It was a completely different feeling, almost like a party: a family BBQ with no one fighting.

I had never seen so many women working together like this. Women, young and old, tended fires, flipped cakes and broke wood with their bare feet. It was amazing to just be a part of it. Granted I couldn’t understand most of what was said, and I wasn’t helping a whole lot. It was still pleasant to be a part of.
I’ve only ever been to one funeral in my life. But that funeral was morose and tragic. I liked this a lot better. Women coming together and just being and working together for days at a time, remembering and honoring. I think they’re doing something right here. Who says less developed is worse off?

I don’t know where I’m going with this, but I did feel a need to just put some of this into words and share this experience with you. It’s not a happy or a funny one. But life isn’t just the happy and funny moments. And that’s what I’m here to do: live. Live life as these women live. And I got a view of the worst part of their lives this week. 

Friday, August 31, 2012

Pooping in a Rain Jacket

I pooped in a rain jacket this morning. And by that I mean that I wore a rain jacket while pooping, not that I actually pooped into a rain jacket. That would just be weird.

There are some things in America that are nice, comfortable. Like indoor toilets. But sometimes, the alternatives can be fun.

I even have a song I made up for the occasion. Not to rip off “Sitting on a toilet”, I sing “Pooping in a rain jacket.”

It’s probably not something you’ve ever done before. Unless of course you raced home after a long coffee break on a rainy day just so you wouldn’t have to use a public Starbucks restroom. But it was probably more along the lines of
“I’m pooping and I just happen to still be wearing my rain jacket.”
As opposed to
“I put my rain jacket on solely for the purpose of the pooping.”

Please note the difference.

In fact, your thoughts about bathroom activities and weather probably don’t often intersect. Unless, of course, you’re one of those people who are scared shitless of the thunder (literally). Or maybe there’s a window by your toilet that you opt to stare out of instead of reading the paper, and, in the process, you mentally note the weather.

I, on the other hand, and my bowels, bladder, and showering habits (not to be forgotten) do think of the weather quite often.

When the weather is cold, as it is right now, and raining, as it is right now, it makes trip outside….unpleasant sometimes. And then add in that you’ve got to expose a large part of your body to the elements. Well, it just a horse ride in the snow (seemingly fun, but a little uncomfortable for the backside, wet and cold.)

So, let’s make it a game! A puzzle! Can you anticipate how much TP you’ll need? Or should you just bring the whole roll? How do you transport it, keeping it easily accessible without getting it too wet? (Personally, I tuck it under my chin with my hood up)Then, how can you minimize time and things that will get wet? For that, I sometimes (and don’t think me strange, all the African kids are doing it) strip my bottom half and run bare-ass naked all the way to my latrine.

And at this point you’re just having fun. How often have you wanted to run and jump and dance in the rain half-naked? It’s a personal daily goal for me. And I get to do it twice! Before and after pooping!

Also, pooping while water is running down your back and inevitably into your nether regions makes it feel a whole lot cleaner. A free beday, if you will. So fresh and so clean, clean, clean.

So that’s my African moment for the day:
Me: hopping, skipping, and jumping through my garden to my latrine, wearing only my oversized blue rain jacket singing “pooping in a rain jacket”.

P.S. My lyrics to that song is a bit limited. Any suggestions? Feel free to let me know. I’d love to add more stanzas to keep me busy longer. I can’t really bring the Time there with me now can I.