My friend Autumn moved to another post: Manjo, meaning “Little Elephant” in the local language. It’s so fitting, with all the friendly villagers and cute little boutiques. Her counterpart is motivated and willing to work with her, something that she had so many issues with in her last post. Most importantly, her house is secure, so there is no chance of her house getting robbed thrice (not unless the bandits can get through the five doors protecting her house!)! In fact, Autumn’s house is a little too nice for a Peace Corps volunteer, with tile floors and a bath tub and running water- and guess what- a chandelier! I don’t know if it is because we have been here so long or that it’s really true, but it seems that we aren’t bothered as much in Manjo either. I think this is my new favorite place actually! Going to Autumns, watching cheesy movies (being a practicing mormon, she doesn’t drink, so this take lots of pressure off of drinking too), making fruit salads, eating grilled fish and just being girls (talking, talking, talking). I have only one bad thing to say about my experience in Manjo. I had to chase down a bandit. Yes, I chased down and caught a thief!
We had decided to go out for grilled fish one of the first nights she had been living there, and all was going well at this little café-like place. The fish was made and brought, and all was well, although I was sure I would have to ask for more piment (I am addicted to piment pepper sauce)… but then a kid comes up and asks to take the water back that we had washed our hands in. He said that he would also take the money. I gave it to him without thinking, but a few seconds later Autumn and I were looking at each other, realizing that this was the same kid that had been standing next to the café since we had arrived, pretending that he was deaf when we greeted him. He had no work or affiliation with the fish lady. Without a second more, my adrenaline was pumping and I dashed up and after the boy. He was a good distance from me in the marketplace, but I had him in sight when he walked right past the fish grill and the woman that was grilling on it. I ran a little faster, caught up to him, and grabbed his hand that was holding my 1,200 CFA in it. “Donne-moi l’argent!” I screamed at him. He told me that he was looking for the woman who made my fish, and asked me to point her out to him. I ignored him and continued to pry the money out of his hands, all the while calling him out- “Tu voulais voler mon argent!” I continued chastising what he had done. A few seconds later, a crowd of men gathered around us and asked what was going on. Mob justice. That is what I love about Cameroon. Everyone supports you and fights with you as you fight for justice. It’s a shared mentality that the village raises the child- rewarding, teaching, and yes, punishing. I told the men that the boy had stolen money from me, and they pretty much took over from there. One of the men started to hit the boy, and as they stayed yelling at him, I walked back proudly with my money back in my hand, back to my grilled fish and piment sauce.