November 15, 2007
Wow, moving is difficult; moving in Africa is even more difficult. I think of all the small things that I could accomplish with one simple trip to Target, instead of running around the market, disputing prices with boutique owners, either with a Cameroonian to help with prices, or being told later by a Cameroonian that I paid way too much for this or that. The official day of the move, Saturday, was impressive, I must say. I had a large troop of people to help me carry everything with one trip from one house to another- boxes, bags, my very heavy foot locker (on Dan’s back, instead of taking a moto…just to show the Cameroonians that we could carry things, even if we could not put them on our head…). If those of you who know me well could have seen Saturday, you would have been tickled to see typical Tara Lynn who managed to convince almost everyone in the village to help me. I did not have much to carry myself during the trip, actually. The collective energy was flowing, and I was proud that I did not have to do something so challenging alone. The principal of my school paid to have a bed made for me, so by Sunday, I was able to sleep at the new, very big and still empty, house at the carrefour. There are 5 rooms, with the one closest to the door designated as a kitchen. I have ordered a couch and two chairs for the living room, but currently there is only lawn furniture to sit on. I need something, because visitors have been coming by left and right, all wishing me welcome. Because my house sits in the middle of town, everyone who walks by sees me come in and out, so it’s probably all over now that the American is living just behind Mme Waffou’s boutique. I hear the traffic outside my front window, but I don’t mind it one bit. I like that people pass by. Reminds me of Grandma’s house in Sugar Land, where everyone is always coming and going, welcome to stop in and sit and chat and eat or drink whenever there is something to offer. I can only hope that I have been passed down the warm, welcoming presence that she has as I embrace my community here.
Frank came to my house this morning, as I was preparing myself to face the rain for the walk to school. He told me that his aunt died. She was just 32 and lived in the house with him and his grandmother. The burial is today, he told me. He had to go help his family with preparations but it was raining and would take a long time to walk the 2 hour walk back to village. He seemed more or less to be thinking out loud, with too much on his mind for a 12-year-old boy. He was telling me about this with what looked like tears in his eyes, but it could have been the rain on his eyelashes. We walked together silently for a while. I told him that I did not know the protocol well for things like this. I asked him what I could do. He said that I could send peanuts back with him that he could grill for the family. Without asking, he started talking about the bad roads and how it would cost a lot to take a moto back home. I didn’t care- this is my friend who is obviously experiencing something very difficult. Frank, who never has asked for anything, who takes my bag to carry when we walk to town, who saved each of the gummy flavors from the handful of American candy I gave him so that his grandmother could try them, who has impressive manners for a child that doesn’t even live with his mother, who is in need. I never imagined I would have relationships like this, but I found friendship with this 12-year-old child whom I have come to care a lot about. I found a moto and paid for his ride back to village.