C’est le Cameroun!
– Juliette Michenoud
After almost 2 days of traveling, we are here! The plane rides were bearable, thanks to the volunteers that kept me company, as well as a Cameroonian woman named Juliette who chatted with me on the plane from Paris. I feel such a great sense of community. She called me Cherie and told me to come to her house! I felt like an instant addition to the family. While we were sitting in the airplane, waiting to leave Douala, I noticed Juliette speaking very casually in French with a man that was sitting across the aisle, and then I saw her use his cell phone. I wondered if they were friends. I asked her if she knew the man. She repeated my question and then she laughed and replied, “Non, je ne le connais pas! C’est le Cameroun, ca! On est toujours comme ca!”- “No, I don’t know this man. This is Cameroon. That’s the way it is.” That’s just the way Cameroon is”. I’m getting really excited about host family “adoption” on Thursday.
Not even ten minutes after arrival, the lights went out in the airport! Amazingly enough, everyone’s luggage arrived, safe and sound, and an hour later, after a bus ride through the streets of a city too dark to admire, we had arrived at the hotel. The door opened and I saw a large man in uniform with a large rifle! He pointed me to the entrance as he saw me stagger in surprise and the look of question on my face. After dinner, water, putting my care bare and my Boo bunnies to bed, and some meditation, Sarah and I quickly fell asleep to the sound of beeps on the road outside.
“Ay, Younde…Ay Younde…” I woke up to a soccer team running by our window, singing. I looked out the window and saw the beautiful town. I had to take a picture. Although there is much poverty that can easily be seen in the few see-through buildings and clothes that nationals wear, there’s still a lot of beauty to appreciate here. I went to the bathroom, but the switches didn’t work! Sporadic electricity, oh yeah! I remembered. I was really happy to dig into my luggage and find my solar powered flashlight at that point.
Today was consumed with paper work, more paper work, and some relaxation time. Mom, don’t worry… I’m getting a cell phone so that you can call me whenever you want! But you will have to call me so that it’s cheaper. It will actually be free for me, as long as you are the one dialing. By the way, you are recommended Best Priced Cards for cheap calling cards. Actually, anyone can call me after Monday! *Wink. wink*
I was delighted when avocado topped with sauce and tuna was served as the salad at lunch. “Avocados are like this in Mbouda, and people will cut them in half and use the skin as the bowl to eat them,” I remember my friend Narcisse telling me once. I can’t wait to get hold of one of those myself. A small group of us, anxious to explore, went on a walk to explore the city. I was dyng to get out of the hotel, and although I wanted to explore more, things can’t happen fast enough. I just want everything in my new little life to begin. I remind myself to really enjoy this part too. Yaoundé. The roads are orange because of the clay. There are dirt paths to walk along, also the home of many lizards and a few roosters, even (until dinner, at least!). Lots of litter. Many people preparing meat. Lots of shops, coiffures and stands set up, selling various little things. Lots of people outside. For me, lots of people outside, staring at me. Some of them wave. I remember to wave with my right hand, not my “potty hand”. Many cars honk their horns at us. We stick out a little. We are like celebrities.
I’m surrounded by water bottles. I am drinking lots of water as I keep hearing Mom’s voice inside my head: “Now remember, you need to drink lots of water so you don’t become dehydrated!” My BoGo light is charging up in the window that’s bursting with sunlight. I thought this was supposed to be rain season! There’s so much more that I could say, but I need to prepare for this evening’s dinner at the Country Director’s house. This will be one of the few times that we get to dress up, I am told.