Thursday, September 24, 2009
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Egg sandwiches, Djino soda, and marriage proposals: only a few of the new aspects of Cameroonian life I have encountered in the last two days. My flights went smoothly and pleasantly, albeit the lack of sleep. I got to sit next to a Russian owner of a fashion business (she was my age), a Texan pastor, a Belgium missionary going back to the Congo, and an American grad student coming to study malaria in Yaounde.
The Jacksons (along with the humidity of the rain forest) were waiting to greet me as I emerged from the last plane into the Yaounde airport. They drove me back to the Cameroon Training Center/Rainforest International School, and on the way back I was met with my first waves of sights, sounds, and smells of Cameroon. Yaounde is a very busy city, with people walking and working all over the edge of the road. There are no lanes on the road, and cars are veering around people and other cars constantly, with lots of horns honking and French phrases darting through the air. To add to the visual stimulation, all the booths, shops, and restaurants are right on the edge of the road, with beautifully lush vegetation filling in all the gaps. I couldn’t even talk, I was so focused on taking it all in. It was so different than anything I’ve ever experienced. The closest association I can think to make is that it is slightly similar to Mexico or downtown Los Angeles. The smells are also unique, but again, slightly similar to Mexico or LA. The mixture of burning trash, car exhaust, and body odors gives the air an interesting aroma of smoke and spices.
After picking up Karissa from school, we ate dinner with one of the missionary families, who were delightfully hospitable, and then I crashed back at the CTC apartment where we’re staying for a couple days.
Yesterday, I got to spend the day with Karen and her friend Wendy, who were wonderful about keeping me active and caffeinated, so as to help me recover from jet lag. They introduced me to more of the missionaries at CTC, as well as the school libraries, my first African skirt, yummy egg sandwiches (basically like an omelet in a roll), and my new favorite citric soda, Djino.
Today I got to go shopping in Yaounde with Karen. We went to an amazing warehouse of beautiful African materials, where I got some material to have dresses and skirts made. We also went to a grocery store and bakery, and everywhere we went, Karen would tell me that the French phrases I kept hearing yelled in our direction were marriage proposals or declarations of my whiteness or my beauty. It was a really interesting and exciting shopping trip.
After a quick rest to recover from the excursion, the Jacksons and I went out to a local restaurant, where we had roasted chicken, plantain chips (they tasted kind of like sweet potato fries), and lots of laughs. Tomorrow we leave early to go back to Bamenda, where we’ll prepare to go into the Fulani village for the celebration of the end of Ramadan. I can’t wait to see Kaitlyn, Lum, and the new addition to the family, Fadi.
I feel like I’ve only scratched the surface of my experiences these first couple days in Cameroon. I really like it so far, but I am still in process of just taking everything in. I’ve posted a few pictures of the landscape outside our CTC apartment, and am looking forward to sharing more photos with you after we get to Bamenda.
Thank you so much for all of your prayers over these last couple days—I know they have made a difference.
Praises: I had a smooth traveling day, and all my luggage arrived safe and sound; it has already been wonderful to be living with the Jacksons; the people here have been very welcoming and hospitable; I haven’t been too exhausted to enjoy my first few days; and God has proven to be faithful to remind me that He is constant, and he has wonderful plans for me here.
Prayer Requests: A safe trip back to Bamenda, continued recovery from jet lag; wisdom next week as I prepare to teach Katelyn and Lum; and continual reminders of God’s presence and good plans, especially as it hits me that I won’t come back to the states for almost a full year (it hasn’t quite sunk in yet).