Que voy hacer? Je ne sais pas. Que voy hacer? Je ne sais plus. Que voy hacer? Je suis perdu. Que hora son mi corazon?

I have a family so far away from this spot. This spot. A messy dining room table that has dirty dishes, last week’s work, a French English dictionary, a salt shaker and random electronic cables. This spot. Thousands of miles away I have a mother that would tell me to clean it up. Thousands of miles away I have an older sister that would try not to say anything about this little mess because she knows how I hate being told what to do. I love them with all my heart. I miss them terribly even if I know they wouldn’t approve of this little clutter. But this pain, this longing, these watery eyes are emotions that I have come to see as blessings. Together they are a proof of a very real, selfless, lifelong love that has kept me inspired to reciprocate.

I have a family a lot closer too. Only a few feet away from this spot I have four mothers and one grandmother. I know they feel the same way about this dining room table as my biological elders. They would not approve but luckily I am very capable of hiding it from them. My four African mothers give me a very familiar look whenever I leave our home. They ask me when I’ll come back and where I’m going. Their curiosity is their caring concern. They protect me from what they can and I have nothing, nothing but love and admiration for them. When I get sick they care for me, when they see me limping they ask why, they make me tea and help me in any way they can. I will miss them terribly when my day of departure arrives.

My four African mothers, like my Mexican mother live away from their husbands. One mother lost her husband in an accident, one mother lost her husband to an illness, one mother lives away from her husband for financial reasons. All of these unique tragedies have brought us together. With all of these men gone I have filled a gap as a male role model to their children. It is a huge responsibility that I did not ask for but one that I have become very grateful for.

I cringe every time I hear little Amadou swear knowing he learned it from me. I feel pride when I read with little Sahabo and he actually sounds the words out like I taught him to. I smile when Laminou puts me in check when we play chess. I gladly lend out my books to Djwaira (she is the first in her class, not because of me though). I love that I can make little Sarifa or Sadia stop crying just by just picking them up. 16 year old Aboubakar shares his love life with me and asks for advice. I have two sisters thousands of miles away but here, only a few feet away I have fifteen other siblings. I love every single one of them and it makes me realize something completely new. This revelation will influence future decisions. I don’t know how much my heart will be able to bear living in so many places. I will leave so many loved ones everywhere I go and I’ll begin to stack up all of these new family members all over the world and not know when I’ll see them again. Even in this ever connecting world a Facebook response won’t be enough. I have no idea how I will handle this.

I call my four mothers here my Dadas. Dada in Fulfulde means mama. The Dadas make me breakfast every morning. Its funny, one of the skills I wanted to work on during my service was to improve my cooking skills but they insist on feeding me every morning. Tea and rice, I cut avocadoes and sometimes put eggs or beans to spice it up. I love this breakfast. It constantly reminds me of grandmother’s breakfasts in Mexico. To show my gratitude to my Dadas I usually do one of the following: bring them fruits or veggies when I get back from Meiganga (carrots, lettuce, watermelon, bananas, coconuts, pineapples), every now and then I’ll surprise them with a chicken or a carton of eggs, when I get back from Yaounde I bring them something small but special (last time I brought them a peeler for when they peel potatoes or yams). They have never asked for anything, sometimes they’ll sneakily guide my decisions on what I’ll bring them but they have never, not once, asked for anything.

I am happy here. Living here has been one of the happiest times of my life. This happiness stems from the jokes and good times I spend with my family but more significantly from the lessons I learn from my challenges and quarrels with them. 

 I reward my siblings with money depending on how good their grades are. I told them that I would only agree to this if they pay me money on the bad grades that they get (I used to do this with my father). They agreed. Little Amadou came home with his grades a few days ago and they were not good. His brothers and cousins did great but he only earned 200 CFA. He refused the money and I got angry with him. I told him that if he didn’t accept the money he was not allowed to come in my house until he apologized. For the first few days he ignored me and I him. I decided to tag along with the kids to the creek to read as they washed their clothes. Amadou hurt his arm and I set my ego aside and asked him where it hurt. He refused to tell me and told me that I was not his brother and I should bugger off. It hurt to hear that, I turned into a child for a split moment and retorted, “You’re right, I’m not your brother, what do I care if your arm is broken?!” I walked off swearing under my breath in anger. I think the Dadas saw for what I’m hoping is the first time just how young I still am that day. They also saw their kid, Amadou, openly and severely disrespect me. I have never hit the kids but the Dadas do it whenever they see fit. Amadou got it bad that night and still did not apologize. I knew he wouldn’t, I know this little trouble maker pretty well so I have punished him way worse. Everyone but him has been playing Game Boy, watching movies and playing with the blocks in my living room. It has slowly been breaking him. He knows he’s one of my favorites, he is also much loved by the volunteers near me so I told him I would inform the other volunteers how much he disrespected me and that they should not talk to him. Finally I told him I would not forgive him until he wrote me an apology with a signature. He has not done so yet but I know he will and when he does I will give him my apology too. I didn’t mean what I said to him and I’ll remind him that I will forever be his older brother. I’ll apologize for my impatience and pray that he’ll learn from my mistake.

With family comes all of the ups and downs. I know not all families are perfect but could it be that the line between love and hate gradually shifts slowly removing hate all together? Amadou is a bright kid, I know he'll apologize. I mean how could he not? I learned that lesson when my older sister apologized to me. Here are some pics of my family.

 Yaouba scratching his head as Ibrahim approves of tonight's dinner


 Most of these pictures were not taken by me, from what the kids leave on my camera I have noticed that Aissatou loves self-portraits.

 Bouba and Oumarou

 I'm hoping Sahabo becomes an engineer and thanks me later for teaching him how to do this.

 Amadamadou and me before our bickering

 "A meat lover's medium sized please, wait, what do you mean you don't deliver to Meidougou?"

The Dada's have agreed to making sure these two don't get married unless I approve of their suitors.

April 1, 2012


So many people telling me one way, So many people telling me to stay, Never had time to have my mind made up, Caught in a motion that I don't wanna stop.

This is my 25th entry on this web journal. I have shared a lot with you. I have grown up quite a bit in the last year. Increments of maturity have been built through kilometers of running, sentences written, failed projects, enlightening conversations, new relationships, traveling and all sorts of crazy experiences. This first year as a truly independent man has been documented to the world through this journal.

For those of you who didn’t notice, each one of my journal entries was inspired by a different song but titled by my favorite lyric of that song. This collection of 25 paints a self portrait. I have shared a total of two short stories, one collection of college essays, one self interview, one letter to future PCVs, a dozen poems and the rest very personal articulated journal entries. Here is the list from the very beginning. You’ll discover that I named my web journal, “The Wait of My Words,” from the very first song. It is one of my favorite songs ever written by one of my favorite bands but I tweaked it for a more optimistic direction.

 What have I learned? Where do I belong? What are my plans for the future? Well if you listen to these songs you might get an answer. They won’t be very specific but you’ll understand the emotions I’m going to through to construct my next direction. Click on each song to take you to the entry that inspired it.

My five favorite are: 14, 22, 17, 18 and 9. I’m hoping that the next 25 journal entries will make an even better playlist, we’ll see.

Carlos Jesus Fernandez-Torres
March 4, 2012


Let the others do what they do.

The B(ache)ry

I entered a bakery,
It smelled of flour,
Sweet strawberry jam,
Sugary greatness,
A warm scent of bliss.
I felt welcomed.

There were sweet tarts,
Fruity treats,
Frosty cakes,
Honey on soft velvet.

You gave me
Six tasty delicacies.
Each one a moment.
Each one too short.
Each one intense
Each one beautiful.
Each one succulent.
Each one soft.

You awakened me.
The flavor shook me.
Each bite tore me open.
Your flavors weakened me.
But the aftertaste inspired.

When these treats were done,
Completely gone forever,
I realized that you were still there.
I was awake with my eyes closed.

So I opened them.
You were not the treats,
You were the bakery,
and I was not finished,
But the closing hours forbade me.

Carlos J. Fernandez-Torres
Meiganga, Cameroon
February 14, 2012

February Baby

Inside this frame,
A set of six photographs.
Nesting new hopes.

I love this little stranger,
And will do so forever.
Nap handsome newborn.

Intrigue in your stare,
Awakened and curious.
Nephew, you are too far away.

I love you,
And can’t wait to see you.
No one means more right now.

Innocent little baby,
Ascending into our future,
Nothing will stop you.

Inspiring grandparents,
Amazing parents,
No excuses for you buddy.

In my soul, En mi
Alma. V mojej duši.
Newly and eternally yours,

Your February Uncle

February Uncle
February 23, 2012
Meidougou, Cameroon

Michigan Jones

A boy picks up a map,
He studies the details.
In his magnificent mind
every grid marks a red ‘X’.
There is so much to learn.
With a hat he goes on a green adventure.

His name is his purpose.
His vision goes beyond his binoculars.
His precision is genius.
His persona dances with charisma.
This boy returns with treasures.
Finally, his first expedition is complete.

With new friends,
Maturing ideas,
All sorts of flickering futures,
He realizes that no trouble is grave.
His discoveries are greater than his treasures.
He plans a new escapade.

A synapse explodes,
Chemicals spill,
he disposes his map and tries on a new hat,
Only behind his eyes he is fine.
Loved ones begin to disappear.
his kidnapped mind claims a dark exploration.

his throat turns into a black hole.
he covers his eyes with mirrors facing out.
All noise sounds like a replaying ice cream truck.
Like his last hat, friends get thrown away.
But none of that matters,
he claims this new quest inevitable.

After selling his treasures for candy,
After smearing his debt to his soul,
After shitting on his own mother,
After burying his discoveries alive,
After absolutely everything lost,
he cries for a new and brighter voyage.

Rumpled up with red x’s,
he picks up his previous map.

Carlos Jesus Fernandez-Torres
February 29, 2012
Meidougou, Cameroon


I was unafraid, I was a boy, I was a tender age

 I've been writing a lot lately; journal entries, short stories, poems, an impossibly daunting screenplay. Its cathartic and balances me. I think to myself how crazy it is that I'm actually pushing myself to sit down and write these out but then I realize that I really can't hold it in anymore. Its a good feeling. Anyway I think this one is done and I feel confident enough to show it to the world. A big thanks to Emma and Lindsay for the editing.

It Wasn't Yet the Spring

A song triggered two memories at once. Like a gun shot it was deafening and claimed all of his attention.

“What are you doing here?”

“I’m here to check out these books,” Farah replied with her soft voice.

His vulnerable eyes exposed the urge to get her out of the library as fast as possible. How the hell did I not see her walk in here he thought. Without saying another word he pulled out her account on the computer. It was almost impossible to not shout, scream and confess his newfound hatred for her. He reined his pain back forcing himself to scan the books under the laser.

BEEP One book down.


He could feel her awkward stare.

“So I went furniture shopping the other day,” she desperately tempted him to reply.

Why is she telling me this? She knows how much I wanted to go with her? He thought.

“Good for you.” He anxiously tried to appear indifferent.

He unlocked the security within the books, opened one of them and placed the receipt inside.

“They’re due on the 14th.” This time he managed to say it indifferently.

Farah walked out wanting to cry, feeling unfulfilled and even more confused with what had just happened. She walked outside and the winter freezing gust slapped her rosy face. Crying, she paced quickly to her car.

Raul’s second memory followed like a lightening strike.

Raul and Farah were standing underneath some sycamore trees. Spring was unfolding the flowers in the park.

“I wasn’t trying to make you feel bad!” Farah frustratingly retorted.

“How the fuck were you not? You came to see me at work!? Just three days after you chose him over me!? THREE DAYS!” He shouted.

“I missed you, it was not as easy as you think to let you go!” she begged for his understanding.

Raul looked at her, she looked sincere and even confused. She looked back with watery eyes.

She softly continued, “You know my sister drove me to the library that day, when I walked in the car I bawled. I realized I made a mistake.”

“You’re damn right it was a mistake to come see me!” he snapped.

“No Raul! It was a mistake to choose David over you.”

Raul had no idea what to say. A part of him wanted to kiss her, to hold her again. He wanted to feel and fall back in love with her, he thought that maybe that impulse was a sign he was still in love with her. The other half of his soul knew better. The pain is not worth it, I’m not capable of trusting her again, he realized.

“Is that why you asked me here today? To put me through another torture chamber? Farah, how do you expect me to trust you!? I gave you EVERYTHING I had, you know more about me than anyone!”

“And you do too!” she quickly interrupted.

“What couch did you buy?” It seemed as though Raul was changing the subject.

“The one you loved so much. The one that you called perfect!” she answered.

“And you fucked him on it didn’t you!”

She started to cry. He almost felt bad.

“I’m not perfect Raul. You know what I’ve been through with him. You know he asked me to marry him, don’t act like you don’t know about my miscarriage with him! Try to understand! I had just met you, I didn’t know I was going to fall so hard for you. I miscalculated, I thought my history with David overweighed my love for you but I was wrong!” She defended.

Raul was too stubborn to put himself in her shoes for even half of a second. He didn’t care, his heart still throbbed with pain. He felt as if the wound didn’t even begin to heal itself. He began to question his decision to come meet her, what was I thinking? I was not ready for this. Farah looked at him, held out her hands and with her soft fingers she gently grabbed his hands.

“I love you but I cannot say that I regret what I did, I had to go back to him to realize that it was you who I truly wanted.”

He looked to his side and stared at the thawing pond. Was his heart too beginning to thaw out? He didn’t know what to think.

“I have never been so miserable in my life. You made me feel the happiest I have ever been. I was invincible, like Superman. Being with you showed me a part of myself that I never knew; it showed me a part of the world that I never knew existed. I was so ignorantly in love with you that I did not consider what it would be like without you. I’ll admit that what we had was short but it was the most intense love I have ever given or accepted from anyone.”

“I feel the same way.” She interrupted again.

“You have to stop interrupting me,” he joked.

She laughed and added, “It was you who interrupted me, when you came into my life you stopped me from what all I planned, everything I had I paused to be with you.”

Half of his lip lifted, his crooked smile made her feel better.

“You are so beautiful Farah, you stop traffic with your everything. You are the kindest person I know, you’re gentle but sexy and you use it against me to win all of our quarrels. I probably still love you but I…”

Her phone started to ring. She ignored it for the first time in her life.

He wanted so badly to kiss her, he remembered that she had the softest lips he had ever kissed. He missed her perfume, she wore the perfect sweaters to cover but accentuate her breasts. He longed for the times where they just stared at each other after sex. He missed holding her hand in the cinema. He missed sliding and tickling and teasing her by gliding his fingers on her bare back. She moved in closer to his face.

He did the same.

Time stopped and he filled the space with his lips. Their eyes closed and he felt his heart begin to shed all of the despair. He glided his tongue gently through her lips and released his doubt. He slid his fingers behind her head and felt her hair tickle his skin. His other hand grabbed her hips and pulled her closer. Her arms wrapped over his neck and tied him to her. He allowed himself to experience their intertwined love and once again felt fulfilled.

They stopped and he opened his eyes. Only an inch away from her face he said, “I can’t do this.” He untangled his fingers from her hair and she pushed away from him confused.

“I am incapable of trusting you, Farah,” he continued, “Fuck this, how can you be so selfish?”

Once more she began to cry realizing that she would never have him ever again.

“Don’t call me again," he said walking away. It was definitely immature. Raul had never fallen so deeply in love like that in his life. He wanted her to feel pain, his rejection was his revenge. He wanted her to feel even half of the hurt he had undergone. It was clear that the line between love and hate had been permanently blurred.

The song that placed him in these two memories ended. Raul realized and regretted for the first time after three years that his action was selfish, immature and pointless. He now knew that they experienced the same amount of pain but his revenge caused an imbalance. He felt terrible, he wanted to fly across the world to apologize. Was it too late to say sorry, after so much time did it even matter?

Carlos Jesus Fernandez-Torres
February 28, 2012
Meidougou, Cameroon


Cherrie je te faire un gros bissou o bien je sais pas

Is Africa romantic? The constant sweat, the dust in the air, feuds fueling negotiations, the odd body odor, there are real reasons that make me realize that romance doesn’t reveal itself to me. But then again… what inspires artists to make such magnificent different pieces than the rest of the world? What is it?

Well let’s take a look at the current scene right now. I’m sitting on my bed, jamming my fingers against the keys of my laptop. I’m in my boxers and feeling overheated. The room is too dark to describe but in the distance there are cobwebs, cockroaches and dust on every doorknob. This scene is not African but let me close my eyes. Let me remember some recent memories.

I’m on a beach, staring over the seemingly infinite reflections of the Atlantic Ocean. A relaxed fisherman waits while the wild wind awakens his senses. I turn around and see children dancing. The music is directly synced to their souls, they bounce and twist releasing all of their insecurities. Bliss is in their beats, their cheek bones stab the air as their smiling teeth beam back the sunlight onto the waves. 

I’m in a crowded bus. Staring, possessed by the passing by papaya trees. A child conducts his stick controlling a precious tire he found somewhere. He rolls and rolls and rolls until he runs into a ram. A man sits outside of his compound expressing salutations to all of the souls he knows so soundly. A woman walks with complete balance; her composure is as perfect as her posture. Her steadiness exhales patience, the basin balanced on the base of her head never dribbles, not once.

I’m on top of a mountain. Gravity balances a beautiful boulder on its bigger brother. Rolling hills remain silent for millenniums simply waiting for the sun to rise and set. The air is hot but the shade is serene, the ruins radiate tranquility. The view is remarkable, I’m at the peak but I already cannot wait to return.

Romance cannot be released relentlessly. It should be a rare moment that reveals your life’s road. A revelation, a discovery, a moment of clarity it will be. Each divided land has its own fingerprint. Men have drawn the borders but the lands have colored the people. Does Cameroon hide its romance? Any soul lucky enough to experience the magic that this land exerts will find it. As a traveler I cannot say that Cameroon’s romance is more romantic than any other but I can conclude that its uniqueness has inspired me.

As a traveler it is my duty to claim each land equal, every country caches its romance, Cameroon does this like any other country. Every state can induce every state of mind. Every nation can strip your soul naked. Every realm releases a very real romance that will remind you of why you’re alive. Come to Cameroon and you will find your own memento.

Carlos Jesus Fernandez-Torres
February 9, 2012


I’ve got it covered with cans of food, filtered water and pictures of you and I’m not coming out until this is all over.

Think about the connections you make with people. How have you formed your friendships? How have you nurtured your relationships? What led some of them to deteriorate? Who amongst your friends are coming or came to your wedding? Who are you going to share a meal with in a few minutes? Which of your Facebook friends would go to your funeral? We are social beings. Our relationships help define ourselves. They are there for us and we reciprocate. Colleagues, family members, neighbors, lovers, co-workers, childhood friends, they all help mold the way you see the world.

Today I lost a friend. He was the first friend I made here in Meidougou. I celebrated the 2011 New Years with him. He took me to the best bar and we danced without the countdown. I had such a good time that I remember looking at the clock in my cell phone and realizing that I missed the first three minutes of the New Year. Peace Corps selected him as my Community Host, a role that he took very seriously. He introduced many community members to me and translated practically every conversation I had for the first few months. His name was Mustapha, a 23 year old man who owned the only pharmacy in Meidougou.

When I heard he had passed away I wasn’t surprised. A few weeks ago he lost half of his weight. He had been sick on and off for practically my entire first year here. I didn’t realize it was so serious until a few weeks ago. I should have realized much earlier the gravity of his situation. I messed up. I should have insisted harder to take him to the nearest hospital. I knew he was lying when he told me he was feeling a little better. The 2000 FCFA I gave him the other day wasn’t enough. I know I had the means to prevent this. Fuck. He was sick for a year though, I'm positive it was a very serious illness that the health care system was unable to handle.
There are an obscene amount of problems in our little planet. We turn our heads when it gets too real, well at least the people who can afford to do. I know none of you know this stranger and realistically you have no reason to care but this is not stopping me from wanting to share who he was and what his death has made me realize. I have roughly 900 and some odd number friends on Facebook. This man, Mustapha, was not one of them. Not because we weren’t friends but because he couldn’t afford a computer. He couldn’t afford many things. He once asked to borrow 5000 FCFA and I selfishly refused.

Mustapha was raised here in the Adamawa region of Cameroon. I don’t know anything from his childhood but I know what he has done recently. He made a living with his pharmacy and also made money selling cell phone credit. He is one of the rare Cameroonians that actually volunteered. Every time UNICEF came to do a mosquito net campaign he worked for free. Anytime UNHCR asked him to distribute food to the refugees he would do what he could. He understood very clearly what it meant to be part of a community. He left his daughter a wonderful example of what it means to be selfless. He also helped me and other Peace Corps Volunteers with our projects. He recently helped a PCV empower a women’s group, he helped them to save money every week. They now own a fridge where they sell yogurt to the community.

His friendship has made me contemplate all of my friendships. It has made me think of the quality of a friend I have been. Lucky for me most of them are conveniently listed on Facebook. But how many of these friendships have I continued to nurture? These social networks have completely redefined relationships. I have a unique story with everyone who I’ve friended. Together all of these little interactions have turned me into me. Surely they will not all attend my wedding or funeral but we are nonetheless acquaintances, acquaintances in a global community. I now know better then ever what it means to be in a community because of Mustapha’s example. His life has inspired me to do a little project. I want to be a better social being in this continuously changing social ecosystem. What do I have to do to accomplish this?

I went to Mustapha’s family’s compound earlier tonight. I bought his mother sugar so she could provide her guests with sweetened tea (a custom here in Cameroon). When I arrived no one was there. They all traveled to the small village he died in. It is Muslim tradition to be buried the same day one dies and in the same place. Mustapha was taken there this morning to see a traditional healer, his family got tired of the medical center failing on his health care. Unfortunately there was nothing the traditional healer could do either. I waited with a small group of people for the family to return. When they arrived the women cried and howled. In unison they let their tears fall onto the ground. I remember when his mother got off of the motorcycle she almost collapsed. When the villagers heard the family return they all gathered in the compound. All of the women screamed and cried together inside while the men mourned outside by the fire. We stayed silent. It was surreal. It was surreal to see so many people come pay their respects. The mourning period will last for the next few days. I wanted to cry. Listening to the women’s pain struck me so deeply that I too wanted to collapse. They held nothing back, they cried so loudly that Mustapha would hear them. The influential figures of the village stayed until midnight. They embraced the mother with very real condolences. Meidougou lost a selfless soul today.

I now know how I can accomplish being a better social being. Here in Meidougou I will spend more time getting to know my fellow villagers better. I vow to not just hastily pass by them without a conversation. The northern Cameroonian way is to greet everyone individually (trust me, I am not exaggerating). Here, everyone spends at least a minute to greet everyone. I used to find this annoying but I now understand. This tradition has inspired me to greet every single friend I have on Facebook. I want to practice this at least once with every single one of you. I want to improve how I balance my cyber social life with my actual one by using the Cameroonian way. This is what Mustapha’s life has inspired me to do.

I want to not only dedicate this entry in his memory but I also am dedicating my second year of service to him too.

Merci Mustapha, pour tous que tu ma montré.

Carlos Jesus Fernandez-Torres
January 12, 2012


Nothing but Crippling Doubt

Nothing but Crippling Doubt

I vote for PEACE
called the divided tribes.

But in this land stability
equals submission.

These villagers pose as
wide eyed citizens.


because their private ballots stalls
carry public holes on their walls.

I refuse to vote
whisper none united voices.

Fear is braided with doubt
Here, only the "Fou" shouts

And here we live,
in the land of giant shrimps.

Carlos Jesus Fernandez-Torres

Para mi abuelo

I have so many faults.
Like the earth I tremble.
I break and separate.
I get over heated and explode.
I flood my static with tears.
I self destruct and


rebuild. And
I know you did too. And
you planted seeds. And
started from itch
to teach your kids how to truly be

You are half of your son
and a quarter of me.
And. You came to my sister for her wedding day.
I was too young to see clearly.
When will you come see me?
Too young to know what you built after the
scratch. But you sculpted it through your son.

And your son became your sun.

And he became mine.

And I still want to speak to you,
Even though I have no idea what’d I say.
To your statue I’ll continue to pray
in my times of earthquakes, hurricanes and decay.
With only the few memories of you,
hoy is not today,

Carlos J. Fernandez-Torres

Left to Right

When I watched I stared.
When I heard I listened.
After staring I painted,
After listening I sang.

The portrait contains what keeps me
I cautiously combined the colors to convey the
But my sacrifices are not all cold
For the song that I sing,
expresses absolutely no
Because even though you can’t see it
it is brighter than yellow.

This song is my left.
It is me not leaving.
My painting is my right.
It is not always correct.

Right to Left.

Carlos Jesus Fernandez-Torres