Friday, October 18, 2013

Gecko poop, fertility and other adventures in Cameroon

So, in my last entry I talked about starting a new job. I’m now 4 months into said job and living in Cameroon. Cameroon is beautiful and different enough from Kenya that it provides a lot of new challenges- the language for one. Cameroon is both French speaking and English speaking. I took a fair amount of French in college and this has been a great opportunity to refresh and improve my French skills. I know that I’ve posted before about funny language mishaps with Swahili. Now, I’ve had the pleasure of having some interesting French language mishaps too.

My confusion with “gestion” as in “gestion de stock” (stock management) and “gestation” (same as in English) always seems to break the ice and provide a welcome laugh during otherwise uneventful malaria stock management meetings. I don’t know why, but that one never fails to trip me up when I’m speaking.

Also, there was that one time that I confused “preservatif” with the English word “preservatives.” They are not the same. At all. One great example where you cannot just say an English word using a French accent and get by.

Luckily that conversation was with a Cameroonian friend who’s very understanding of other cultures and was not in the least bit judgmental when I said in French that “I don’t like to eat McDonald’s when I’m in the US because of all the condoms (preservatifs) they put it their food.” 

That would've been quite a plot twist in the film Super Size Me. Anyways, I'm a bit behind the times now because McDonald's has apparently gone healthy and has a whole assortment of new items on their menu (condoms not included).

Well, as I mentioned in the title, I’d like to take a moment to discuss gecko poop. When I lived in Kenya, I had a number of geckos that I cohabitated with. They weren’t the worst roommates I’ve had; they didn’t make a lot of noise or eat my food and were generally quite respectful of my space. There was just one little the exception- their little droppings. They would leave tiny dots of their previous meals around my floor and sometimes on my wall. It wasn’t enough to make me go all warrior with a can of bug spray to kill them, but it was an annoyance and just kinda gross. So for 2 years we mostly just tolerated each other in a mutually symbiotic relationship. They paid their rent in the form of eating other bugs that I dislike even more than them and I allowed them to remain and raise tiny gecko families under my roof.

Recently, in my new house in Cameroon, I’ve started to notice those same black dots. The Geckos have moved in. The strange thing is that I have yet to see an actual Gecko, though. Perhaps they’re more timid in Cameroon? Anyways, it was an odd mixture of comfort, nostalgia and annoyance at their return.

In between cleaning up gecko droppings and working, I’ve been dodging ever increasing fertility questions from my mother. Like “have I thought about freezing my eggs?” and do I know “about the incidence of deformities in babies the older a woman is when she gives birth”….and other lovely pressure-filled gems that come up in the middle of unrelated conversations. (Side note- When did my life turn into a Cathy comic?!)

I think she’s trying to remind me about my 30th birthday that’s around the corner. Or perhaps it’s payback for my ever-so-casual reference to her ability to join a 55+ “seniors” community soon. I’m not sure.

Either way, that woman is really keeping me on my toes in every conversation. Love you Mom!

A la prochaine….