Monday 30 May 2011

Limbe, Limbe, Limbe

Before an intense week of welcoming and training the new Peace Corps Trainees, I took some vacation days to go fishing in Limbe, Southwest region, Cameroon.

First stop was to the barber shop as my buddy wanted to get clean-shaven or as Cameroonians like to say, “Oh, you want to be fresh?” Thank goodness I was there as I stopped them from putting black gel into his hair that I’m positive is only for African hair.

Best idea that we had was to stay in Limbe’s Botanical Gardens. Founded in 1982, the Gardens cover almost 48 hectares and are ideal for nature-lovers of all kind (too bad I'm not one!). Birdwatchers was booked, so we checked into Hotel Miramar for 15.000CFA. It was an okay view as our room overlooked the ocean from a cliff. Not too shabby!

View from Hotel Miramar

After eating at Mars, we headed off to the black sand beach. With a gentle breeze and the sun setting, it was very relaxing to say the least.

The rest of the weekend was spent beaching it up, exploring Limbe’s Wildlife Center (one of the few primate sanctuaries in the world) and fishing at midnight. Cameroon is actually one of the few countries where coastal and lowland gorillas exist, so it was great to see them being saved in the sanctuary instead of being poached. See the video below for some good times!

Sunday 22 May 2011

Exploring the Jungles of Manjo, Cameroon

Manjo lies in the Littoral region of Cameroon with a variety of ethnic groups including the Bamileke. An agricultural city, the biggest cash crops are coffee, bananas, and pineapples.

Today, Ashley and I headed off into the jungle!

The jungles of Manjo

Living in a regional city, I find it great to explore other PCV's posts as each PCV has a widely disparate experience! From her house, we walked about forty-five minutes to come across this bridge – it’s nothing more than a hollowed out tree.

A fantastically classic bridge!

Before the night ended, I attempted to send my dad an e-card as it’s his birthday today (happy birthday, Dad!). Hopefully it went through, but with a sketchy internet connection, who really knows what I actually sent him?

Saturday 21 May 2011

Journey to Say Goodbye

A good PCV friend will be finishing her service in a few weeks, thus, I wanted to say goodbye and see her youth business club before she left Cameroon. And the journey to say goodbye begins…

At 7AM, the VIP car agency (Le Car) that I wanted to take said that the next car would not leave until 9:30AM. Thus, I jumped in a yellow taxi to another agency called Centrale Voyages. Luck would have it that they have their own VIP bus leaving at 7:30AM and for 6.000CFA (~$12US), I would receive my own seat (a luxury in itself!), curtains on the windows, reading lights, a chocolate pastry, and a cold drink!

After three and a half hours of luxury cruising, I arrived in the city of Douala where I took a motobike to a friend of a friend’s workplace. From there, the friend of a friend and I jumped in a private car and he helped take me to Carrefour Roundpont to find a big sharebus taxivan. It took about two and a half hours to head off to the next transfer point as there was an incident…

The man sitting next to me wanted to exit early; however, the driver wanted to go to the normal stop. The man next to me became angry, leaned out the window, and threw the van’s spare tire into the road. The driver realized what had happened a few moments later and stopped the car…and then the man and driver argued for about half an hour solving nothing.

When we finally arrived in Loum, I was advised out of the van into a small, private car (I would normally think that this is sketchy, but here in Cameroon, c’est la vie). After about half an hour or so of sharing the front passenger seat, we arrive in Manjo at 2PM! Seven hours of driving done to travel 220 miles - phew!

So happy to finally reach Manjo!

Found the waterfall!


Friday 20 May 2011

Cameroon's Independence Day

May 20, 2011. Today marks fifty years of the independence of Cameroon. I try to keep this blog free from anything from being politically-related as it's 1) a travel blog and 2) the U.S. government wouldn't be too happy (hence the disclaimer on the right-hand side of this).

So here are a couple photos!

Fellow PCV Janelle Walikonis and I at the parade in Yaounde

Snipers on top of the big grocery store in case anything should occur

Sunday 15 May 2011

The University of Yaounde

I visited my buddy, Muburak, who currently studies at the University of Yaounde. Taught by a PCV while in high school, he can understand American English extremely well!

Surprisingly, the University of Yaounde strikingly represented an American University. The library was about five stories tall and there was wireless. The oldest university in the country (built in 1962, mind you) is a mix of old and new. Yes, there’s wireless, but final grades are still posted on one big wall.

One of the graduate student buildings

Clearly, I have lost my fashion sense since moving to Cameroon

We walked over to Muburak’s dorm room, which goodness, is small! What can you do? This is college after all - complete with an NPR magazine that features “American” culture: flea markets, barbeques, and...the Peace Corps!

Muburak's kitchen, bedroom, and office

NPR magazine listing all things American from rodeos to summer camps. And of course, the Peace Corps! (sorry for the photo rotation, I'm in Cameroon and internet is way too slow to change it!)

Saturday 14 May 2011

I Don't Give Away Milk

After a long day of pagne shopping, Ben Ace and I ate delicious fried rice at L’Orient Rouge. It was good to catch up as Ben and I live about 21 hours away from each other! Luckily, being active with Peace Corps background activities lets us catch up from time to time.

After some great Chinese, we headed off to the French Cultural Center where there was a highly entertaining hip hop show. The dancers were great, but the song “Je ne donne pas de lait (I don’t give away milk)” was even better! If you’re confused, let me put this into cultural context. Here in Cameroon, it’s very customary to give away gifts whether you are coming back from vacation or just because. It’s easy to buy drinks for someone; however, if you don’t even give away milk, you must not give away any kind of gift.

It took a taxi man to explain that one to us :)

Friday 13 May 2011

Hilton Happy Hour

We decided to continue our little taste of the USA by attending Happy Hour at the Hilton, Yaounde, Cameroon. The best part for me? Shopping at the 'Stop and Shop', which resembles a 99cent store. There, I bought the necessary slippers and kitchen mitts. Yes!

I think that’s the main difference between being an expat in a country and being a Peace Corps Volunteer in a country: you get excited by kitchen mitts.

And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

View from the top! (top photo) View of Marche Centrale (bottom photo)

Nothing beats live music (top photo) and good friends (bottom photo).

Thursday 12 May 2011

Just a Taste of the States

If you’re living in America and reading this post, this will be irrelevant to you. If you are a Peace Corps Volunteer living in a developing country, you will know what I mean!

Five others PCVs and I headed off to Pizza Roma, the most fantastic (and only!) PIZZA place in Yaounde. And yes, it’s real pizza with real CHEESE! Between the six of us, we ordered Pizza Margherita, Hawaiian, and Vegetarian. I had three huge slices for less than $6US. They even provided OLIVE OIL for us to put onto our pizza. Heaven.

Afterwards, we saw what looked like a huge boulangerie (bakery) a little ways across the street. It turns out that the new Dovv Supermarche is two stories and sells BROCCOLI, CAULIFLOWER and…YOGA MATS! Additionally, there’s shopping carts, concierge service, a fountain, and a computer in case you need to check your internet!

I found America. It’s in the Bastos neighborhood of Yaounde, Cameroon. And again, if you’re living in a first-world country, I apologize for the boring post.

But for my fellow PCVs and me, tonight was pretty awesome.