Thursday 21 October 2010

You Were Supposed to Be Someone Else, But I'll Have Dinner with You Anways

I was invited to dinner by who I thought was the Director of the bank on the first floor of my building. I told him that I already had his number as the PCV before me had left me his number in the apartment.

Two days ago, I called and the conversation went something like this:

Me: …are still eating together tomorrow?

Director: I don’t know. Are we?

Me:…Umm, yes, I’m free.

Director: When?

Me: Dinner is fine for me (considering that he invited me to dinner).

Director: Okay, tomorrow then.

Well, yesterday was our supposed dinner and when I went downstairs, it was definitely not the Director, but another employee of the bank! I had the wrong number all along and made dinner plans with the wrong person! As it is Cameroon; however, the people are more than happy to welcome guests.

So this evening, I had dinner with the right person! Two authentic Cameroonian dinners in a row…not too shabby!

Wednesday 6 October 2010

Locks in Cameroon: 3, Me: 0

I got locked out of the kitchen this morning. The door wasn’t locked, but rather the door was jammed. Why was my kitchen door closed? To muffle the sound of the CD shop blasting Katy Perry at 7AM of course.

Unfortunately, the bathroom is past the kitchen. And the knob wouldn't work, even after I tried to hammer it off. So, no breakfast or using the bathroom. Thus, I went off to MC2 to help my neighbor with information on opening a savings account.

Luckily, Luc the Locksmith loves me and came over at lightning speed right after I called him. He probably loves me because I give him so much business. See balcony post directly below as he replaced the balcony lock. And see post why-is-my-front-door-being-driven-away.html

Moral of the story: buy the most expensive locks possible!

Sunday 3 October 2010

Day 2: Balcony and Bookcase: 1, Me: 0

My women’s group canceled today, but it was nice to enjoy a relaxing day off…or so I thought that would be the case.

After giving PCV Nick Bourguignon information for a PC project, he assisted me on the mission of finding varnish for my bookcase. Yesterday, I inquired my buddy for the price of varnish: 2,000CFA a litre for a new can. Only needing about a fourth, we went to the carpenter next door to see if we could just buy his already opened can varnish. He wanted 2,000CFA for just a fourth! Moving on…

PCV Nick Bourguignon happily varnishing my bookcase before we got locked out

The second carpenter wanted 2,000CFA again! He said that he paid 4,000CFA and I said that he needed to go down the street and buy the 2,000CFA a litre that my buddy sells. Finally, a third carpenter gave me the normal price of 500CFA.

While celebrating our victory, we took the bookcase out to my balcony to begin varnishing. As I went back inside some time after, the balcony door got jammed (of course, our cell phones were inside and the spaghetti was cooking).

In the next hour: a PCV rode by on a moto and thought we were waving hello instead of waving for help, a random Cameroonian got lost trying to PC office, my neighbor who knows me couldn’t make out anything we were saying as the CD shop next door was blasting Nigerian pop. Finally, my neighbor found a ladder, Nick climbed down, AND the spaghetti was saved!

Voila! My proud bookcase

Thoughts? I like it!

Friday 1 October 2010

Day 1: I Knew I Could Find a “Home Depot” to Buy Wood for My Bookcase

While I was living on the East Coast of the United States, I was the subletee of a studio apartment in New York City. It was completely furnished except for a coffee table. Though I could find cheap coffee tables on Craigslist, I could not find anyone that was available to help me carry it. Thus, I built one and could easily carry it part by part on the subway.

Now here in Cameroon, I decided it would be an adventure to try making my own bookcase after designing my other furniture through a carpenter. So after trying to buy wood from a carpenter, he directed me to the “Depot de Bois” (literally Depot of Wood) a.k.a. Home Depot!

No, I didn’t take measurements. I just figured I’d eyeball it. So, after a VSLA meeting, fellow PCV Jessie Warning and I just asked for the cheapest wood and pointed at how big each piece of wood should be. Supposedly, we could only buy a big whole piece of wood and then they would cut it into smaller pieces. He wanted 5,000CFA ($10US) for the smallest piece of wood and after more haggling, we went to a second warehouse and found ourselves a better piece of wood for 4,000CFA ($8US). That’s 2,500CFA for the wood and 1,500CFA just to cut it – what a rip just to cut wood!

Depot de Bois a.k.a. Home Depot

Thank goodness I had somebody else to help me take the wood pieces! I’m really thankful that we didn’t knock out any unwitting passerbys with our wood sticking out on the moto.

After 1.5 hours (well, maybe 2), the frame of my bookcase was good to go and strong! Now I just need to varnish it…