Sorry for the long-awaited update! I’ve been on site visit. As I thought might happen, I’m posted to Nguti in the Southwest Region of Cameroon. It’s a teeny-tiny Anglophone village with only 4,000 people. I figure it’s easier to read about what happened in sections, so, I’m breaking it up by town:
PCTs load into a car, 18 deep. The car is supposed to seat approximately 14. Get a literal push-start at a gas station. Arrive in Yaounde to catch a bus to Douala, Ryan and our two counterparts (plus a two month old baby) in tow.
Depart bus after several talks from business men about the benefits of Chinese medicine. If we buy it from them right now for this low, low price, we’ll also get a durable plastic bag to carry it all in. Douala is big and loud and dirty and they really love grabbing white girls. I get literally spun around and “LA BLANCHE!” screamed in my face as I’m carrying my bags to the next bus. For such a large city, they still seem endlessly fascinated with white people. While at a table waiting for my next ride a man marched right up to me and let me know that he loved me, and that he wanted to have me birth his children. I kindly refused.
Ryan and I (plus counterparts and baby) get into a van that managed to pack thirty of us into a sixteen-seater. Snarky punk-ass kid asks us why we whites didn’t just rent out the whole van. Tension resolved when we duet to Katy Perry during traffic. Manage to loudly run into/greet another trainee randomly in an alley. Now all of Douala is convinced that all white people know each other.
Numb to the world. Arrive in Kumba, refuse to eat cow feet even though I’ve had nothing to eat all day. Sleep.
Just take my word for it when I say that these roads are the worst you’ve ever, ever seen (YouTube Nguti, you’ll see). Four of us (and baby) cram into the cab of a truck and try to conquer mountains and walls of mud and water. Water comes in through the cab, we have to stop to repair, we get stuck in the mud, more weird cow parts are eaten at a rest-stop, I get a sunburn on half my body, six hours pass by and I finally arrive. Children run past my car screaming “whiteman!” when they see me. This prompts my six-hour mantra of “I am a celebrity, this is just a rollercoaster”. I sit on the front porch of my community host’s house as children taunt me. I cry.
The days after that in Nguti were good, though. It’s nestled in some mountain and it feels like you’re at the beach thanks to a breeze, though it is still crazy-hot. I’ve got a four room house, though I stayed with the PCV who is heading out soon from the town since it’s under construction. The village is teeny tiny, mostly just one road. There is a pack of wild goats roaming around that nobody eats. They speak Special English and Pidgin, which I cannot for the life of me take seriously. The food is kind of…scarce, so Nguti will be, essentially, Georgia’s Diet Plan. I weighed myself this morning: I’ve lost about 15lbs.
Now repeat all of that, in reverse order, and here I am. Except, throw in a beer tower, Dr. Obama’s Snack Bar, wearing the same clothing for 48 hours, crying over opening a bank account and forgetting all the things I need (though I got it open eventually…), feeling really really white, a bus full of Cameroonians mistaking Elton John’s Sacrifice for a song about Jesus, magically delicious pasta, sleeping on a floor, lots of PCVs giving us words of wisdom, tons of a motorcycle rides, and the firm stance that traveling in the country is a nightmare. There you have it. Site Visit, 2011.
Oh, and did everyone else manage to make an awesome wish at 11:11 on 11/11/11? I happened to do it on Africa’s longest bridge, the Fly-Over.