Friday, October 28, 2011

Time for Work

I know some days you may be asking yourself; Martin,what is it that you do in Cameroon?

Once a week I bike out to a town called Tayer to work with a group of Men and Women. We have a village savings and loan that we started a few months back. It takes me about an hour to get there and on the road it is usually just me and the barren hills. I wanted to take pictures during the rainy season since it is so much greener and there are actually plants to see, but our post rainy season/ mini hot season will have to do for now.

I took some pictures on my last ride out to Tayer on a paved road no less. Only 10% of all roads in Cameroon are paved, and I get to use one of them.

Here are some interesting looking trees i spotted off to my left.

Managing not to get hit by transport trucks, or fall into a pothole on my ride.

I work with about 13 men and women in Tayer where we have started a vsl, a village savings and loan group. The idea is to consolidate their money together and then be able to use that money to borrow from their collective funds for projects that generate income and then to repay the loan with 10% interest.

This group saves, per person, and where from 200-1000F every other week, that's roughly $.40-$1.00 every two weeks. The process of amassing large amounts of money is slow, but each cycle lasts one year and during that year I am present at meetings to advise and discuss loans, repayments, expenses, and project ideas.

This is a picture of the bureau. President, secretary, treasurer, and money counter.

I work on this project with another volunteer, Liz Loftus, she's the white lady in the above picture.

And as I bike home from a successful meeting the sun sets over the low mountains that surround our village.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Holy Crap, I Just Made Doughnuts!

First of all, what the hell!?
Why did no one tell me, my whole life, that doughnuts are so freaking easy to make?????

I feel a bit cheated.

I guess life goes on somehow though, or some pictures of what I've created

Cameroon, on a whole, just got a lot better.

Monday, July 11, 2011

His Name is David

And when I'm not hating him, I love him.

As you may or may not know, I have a dog. If you ask me what breed, I will tell you he is Cameroonian (just as I'm American?). I don't know what he is, all the dogs in this country, for the most part, look exactly the same, which, if I'm missing David is a bad thing, because whenever I see another dog I think of him and become more sad.

He is about 8 months old? Maybe more, I can't remember, I have only had him for the past 4 months. I abandoned him for 4 months at my old post-mates house while I was in transition.

He luckily still remembered me after me having been gone for those formative months of puppyhood.

I have dressed him up here in one of my tank tops. He had just finished chewing one of the arm areas up so I could no longer wear it, it is now his. I think he looks like Dabi (from Harry Potter, of course)

This post will be short and sweet cuz I don't got a lot to say here...he's a dog
He can sit when I tell him to
He will shake your hand if you say "SHAKE"

and he likes to eat everything...:(

I am a little horrified with myself. I don't feel exactly dirty right now, but feel just a tinge of pity for myself, I have become one of those dog people, oh gawd.

What follows are just more pictures of David being CUTE!

David found a little hole or wedge of space between the new building in my yard and the old wall, I'm not sure what he does in there, it's sort of weird.


Sunday, July 3, 2011

A House I Happen To Live In

Here we are, 4 months into living in my new home, in a new village.

The specs?

4 bedrooms
1 bathroom, with shower and modern toilet
1 latrine
1 salon (living room)
1 kitchen

I live in a strange groupings of houses with an assortment of rooms. I can't call them bedrooms, although, one could sleep in them, so I will cover the uses I use them for instead.

I have a salon (living-room)

A front porch, that is lower than the dirt it borders and therefore floods when it rains.

I have a small side yard, that is slowly getting smaller as the owner builds more bedrooms in my concession.

I have a storage room, but nothing to store in it.

I have a kitchen that was formerly a bedroom.

Another bedroom that I am using as a work out room and will be turning into a living room in the future.

Another bedroom that will be used as a bed room as soon as I furnish it.

Another bedroom that is used bedroom (it even has a real closet).

A bathroom, with a recessed tiled shower, modern toilet, and vanity mirror area (there is no sink, but there is a spigot at shin level in the shower that I source all of my water from).

And that's it :)
By Peace Corps standards I have a really nice house, by American standards I have a big house, and by my standards I will not have this nice of a house until I'm old...mostly because I will never need a 4 bedroom house by myself, although I do really enjoy having all the free space to work with and live in :)

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Mora, My new Home

I am officially at my new post!

It is ok

I had 2.800F this morning for food and was planning on going Maroua, the capital of the Extreme-North, but we did not get paid, so I did not go. This means...I had about $5.40 for food until we get paid next...! That could be another week living on $5.40.

Luckily it is Market Day in Mora today and i want to show you what I was able to buy.

I bought tomatoes, onions, sweet potatoes, cooked sweet potatoes, eggs, fish (for the dog), and pasta for...$4.30
This is enough food for 3 meals a day for about three to five days (I hope). I want to illustrate the cheap prices on food in Cameroon. I am so thankful for this right now, I would not be eating otherwise.

I also got a dog, almost forgot. His name is David William Case. He is the typical Cameroonian dog which means he is not a specific breed, he just is. He really likes to lick and when I have visitors he can't stop himself from licking their arms and faces. He is about 6 months old and I don't think I would be a good parent after having him and it's only been 3 weeks.

This is a picture of some food I made the other night. I have been getting creative with the prep and set of my food, something to make Cameroon feel like home. I made bean and rice burgers. I made the beans from scratch, as well as the rice (obviously) then used my meat grinder to grind the two into a working burger consistency. I then added spices and grilled them up. I also made a salad with lettuce, tomato, chickpeas and onion with an olive oil/balsamic vinegar dressing (almost like home)

Until Next Time


Thursday, February 24, 2011


VAC and PSN, Yaounde- Cameroon

I am currently in Yaunde doing meetings for various commitees. I also got to be part of a round table discussion with American Ambassador of Cameroon, which is pretty awesome (I also get to have dinner with him and some other volunteers in the Extreme-North Capital next week).

I wanted to do this blog because Yaounde is unlike other cities in Cameroon. It is the second largest city behind Douala, as well as the capital of the country.

Here are some pictures I took out of the taxi today:

VAC= Volunteer Action Commitee, Volunteer Advisory Commitee, Volunteer Analysis Commitee... I have not gotten a name for this commitee yet, only guesses from the volunteers that are on the commitee with myself. I think I may have already blogged aboutt his in the past, but I wanted to do an update because I am currently in the Capital of Cameroon, Yaounde, and well here we are.

PSN= Peer Support Network

This ones easy. We are available to all other vonlunteers if they feel they need some one to talk to in confidence.

This is what we look like-

Until the next time!
Martin Case

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Still at the Maroua Transit House

I have been in the Maroua Transit house for over a month now. I think I am beginning to go crazy.

Every morning, I go across the street to Vieux Manoir and buy beans, macaroni, meatballs, piment, and chicken sauce (this is the marinade that is on the chicken [carrots, onions...]) When I get there I hand the bean lady a bowl that I have brought with me...then I say "the usual" and she knows what I want.

Maroua is a bit expensive, but in the last month I have figured out where I can go and eat for a dollar or less.

Bean Lady- $1.00 for breakfast
Shack by the Bus Agency- $.60 for lunch
Salad Guy+ Street eggs from a kid- $1.20

Totaling $2.80 or 1,400FCFA

Now lets talk about Belle Vie:

Belle Vie: OMG...pretty much sums it up.
At BV one can get just about anything, I will be going there later today and adding some pictures of all the different things, but for now I will do my best to describe what they serve/ what I eat.

Beth Weeks likes: Steak Pane with cheese and french fries. This is basically steak or hamburger that is served like what we would call chicken fried steak, with cheese...mmmm.... it is served with maggi sauce (msg +salt) mayonnaise, and piment sauce (spicy pepper that is grown throughout all of Cameroon)

Stephen Sweiten likes: Same as above, he actually introduced this plate to Beth since it is technically not on the menu.

I like: pretty much everything there. depending on my mood I will go with a white chicken avocado salad or if I'm really hungry I will eat Steak with pepper sauce and some sort of potato (fries, steamed...)

Here is something I made
the other day in village for Breakfast
This is:
Green tea
Fresh homemade tortillas
lentils and rice
Eggs with fresh basil, tomatoes, onions, and maggi.
also, we can find Tobasco in the Regional Capital.

Here is a closer view of the same meal:

Hmm, this was a super random post, but I was too bored not to write it and hopefully, you will now feel like you know me a bit better.

Skype me?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Where Did I Go?

It has been so long, I am sorry, as usual, for my absence.

Over the past few months so much has happened, I will try and cover everything that I can remember.

IST: In-Service-Training. This is held at the 3-4month mark for all stages (groups of volunteers that commenced together).
Ours was held in Kribi, this is in the Southern Region of Cameroon and happens to be on the coast; our hotel was literally across the street from the beach. As it worked out for me, it also happened to fall on the week of my Birthday which meant that I was going to get to spend my B-day on the beach with all of the people I moved to Cameroon with, a dream come true really.

Unfortunately, I was sick the whole conference with amoebas and malaria...just my luck I guess. I spent the whole time in my hotel room with 104`F temperature, chills, shakes, stomach aches, muscle aches, head aches, and loss of appetite.

But, overall, it was a really nice Birthday. Rose bought me a four cheese pizza, it was my first time getting to eat real cheese since I'd left California! They put candles in the top of the pizza box for me, it was pretty much a cake at that point, letting me make a birthday wish and everything.

Christmas: in Cameroon, oh shit look out, people like to fete it up (and drink a lot)
My friend Carmen took vacation after IST to come and see the Extreme-North. This worked out really well because we got to travel up to my region together, it is such a bummer to go it alone, it takes up to 3 days to make the trip.

This is Carmen:
We made it to Maroua, after a 16 hour train ride and a 12 hour bus ride just before Christmas. Unfortunately for me when we got back the Banks were having communication issues with the main office and no one could take money out, this happens a lot for some reason. Carmen got henna tattoos all over her hands and feet while we waited for the banks to open again.

We eventually made it out to my post which is just before Rhumsiki, a large tourist attraction due to the phallic stone formations that fill the region.

Carmen made it out to Rhumsiki with a tour guide from my village, he is also named Martin, he has decided, since he is older, he will be Martin One and I am Martin Two.

New Years:

During Carmen's visit, I realized that I had been robbed! I was missing 50,000F of money from my lock box, which, as it turns out, is not all that secure. I also realized that, this wasn't the first time, but the third time I had been robbed. The first few times, I thought I was going crazy. Money kept disappearing from the house and i truly thought I was misplacing it. It took me being robbed three times to realize what was happening (I know this makes me sound like an idiot, but every time I was robbed, the robber always left me about 10,000F). The total money stolen was 100,000F which equates to about $200, this may not seem like much to Americans, but here, that was my rent money for 4 months!

Due to this, and other problems I was having at post, I decided to make some changes. I talked with our Admin in the capital and as of yesterday 31-1-2011, I am officially granted permission to move to Mora. Mora holds the largest cluster of foreign volunteers in the Extreme-North, with me, there will be 7 white people- 3 with Peace Corps and 4 with VSO. Also there are at least 4 Peace Corps volunteers within 30-45 minutes of Mora, that use Mora for the Market.

*I have been living at the transit house for just over a month. I am beginning to go a bit crazy, and not in the good or fun way.

Thus, this month, I will be moving myself to my new home, meeting my new counterpart, seeing the bank I will be working at, and getting settled into a new community, but this time at a post that has had a Business Volunteer in the past, and with the help of my fellow PC friends.