10:00AM -- Time for church! Today’s mass was three hours long, and entirely in Ewondo. So basically I spent three hours day-dreaming, people-watching, and listening to the choir sing along to traditional xylophones.
Even though I rarely understand what’s going on, I find it extremely important to attend mass every Sunday – not for religious reasons, but as a means of integration. The church is such a huge part of my community. I mean that in a very literal sense; the building can be seen from almost anywhere in the village. My landlord is a nun. I live above a Catholic nursing home and steps away from a Catholic health center. Two minutes up the road is a prestigious Catholic boarding school. Essentially everyone who lives in my neighborhood is in one way or another employed by the church. Thus, regardless of my views on religion (because it’s not like I’m following along with the Ewondo priest anyways), I view my presence at church as a way to non-verbally remind people: “Hey! I’m here! I exist! I’m a member of you’re community!"
When mass lets out, everyone exits the church and mingles outside on the lawn, greeting each other and exchanging news before parting ways. This allows people, myself included, to use church as a means to keep in touch with others and to stay informed of community events. In fact, the hour after Sunday mass has become a crucial tool for planning my weekly schedule. Today I was able to:
- Chat with Michel, the fish farmer who I attempted to visit on Thursday but was not home. We rescheduled our meeting for this coming Wednesday.
- Clarify some information with Yves, president of JEMA
- Get information about JEMA’s meeting tomorrow
- Catch up my friend Marie, who I haven’t seen in over a month
I’ll admit, sometimes it’s a major struggle to get up early on a Sunday morning (mass is usually at 8:30, not 10:00) only to go sit on a wooden bench and listen to a three hour church service in an incomprehensible foreign language. I’d much rather sleep in, lounge around, or use this time to go running (and sometimes I do). In the end though, sitting still for three hours is usually worth it, even if only for the post-mass interactions.
2:00PM -- Home again! I spent a bit of time practicing guitar. I bought a guitar a few months back in attempt to pick up a new hobby. (okay, so really it's a new old hobby. I made this same attempt in high school.) It’s been a lot of fun teaching myself, but I haven’t practiced since before I went away on vacation over a month ago, and when I tried to play last night: OY!!
After a while, I stopped to read, which very quickly turned into napping. I had intended to go out for an afternoon walk, but slept through at least an hour's worth of "snoozes" on my alarm... Oops!
6:00PM -- Woke up from my extra-long nap and treated myself to some more fajitas! Yum! My Mama called just as I was cleaning up, and we had a nice long chat as we usually do on weekends. Afterwards, I spent a bit of time preparing for tomorrow's aquaculture lesson with Mr. Ndzana, and then practiced guitar again until I got tired. Now here I am, snuggled up in bed with my laptop!
That concludes Day Seven of a Week in the Life of a PCV! Every volunteer’s service is different. Every volunteer has different projects, different ways of interacting with their community, and different ways of spending their free time. I definitely don’t intend this to generalize what it’s like for all Peace Corps volunteers; it's really only a reflection of my own service. On top of that, this week may be entirely different than next week. Maybe next week I will have seven days packed with work, maybe next week I will have seven days of free time. Sometimes it’s hard to predict how the week will unfold: some events pop up randomly, just as many meetings get cancelled at the last minute. Nevertheless, I hope this series of posts helped to give you guys an idea of the projects I’m working on, and generally what my life is like these days in Cameroon.
Shout out to the lovely Emily Haggett for inspiring this whole little series during our skype chat last week!