Where to start…

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My mind is racing between what to say and how to say it en français.  The stimulation is constant and accentuated by the fact that most of it happens in a language I do not yet speak or understand very well.  When my intake capacity hits its limit I don’t want to write, I want to sleep.  Aside from the first few nights of leftover jetlag and some “intestinal adjustment”, I’ve never slept so well in my life.

This is the first time I’ve been on my computer since I arrived in Cameroon last Friday (June 2), and the second time I’ve been on a computer at all.  The first was at the hotel in Yaoundé to let my family know I had arrived safely.  I am now at my host family’s house in a town called Bafia – about 120km northwest of the capital, Yaoundé – where I will spend the next ten weeks.  There is no electricity in my host family’s home, and in the rest of the city it is unpredictable.  I found out after asking my host father about the lack of electricity in the house that he just hasn’t paid the bill in months, as he showed me a bill that exceeded 350,000 FCFA (more than $700).  Maybe some of that money that Peace Corps reimburses to host families will help pay the bill.

In any case, this place is beautiful: dense foliage with tall, thick blades of grass and exotic trees, rolling green hills, deep red dirt, and cloudbursts that give off the kind of light I have only seen in the grasslands of Kenya and the mountains of Colorado.  The people are hospitable, the food is spicy, oily, and damn delicious.  I’m not the first Peace Corps volunteer the family has hosted, but I’m the first man.  My host father (Etienne) and my brother (Junior, 19) seem pretty happy about this, and have both taken me in warmly.  My host mother (Odette) and sister (Christelle, 22) are quite cordial, though they address me with much more apprehension.  (Perhaps the first example of the endemic gender discrepancy we keep hearing about).  It helps that I’m vocally appreciative of their cooking, because aside from bonjour and bon nuit my host mother doesn’t actually speak to me.  I think she’s waiting for my French to improve before she bothers.  But as long as she keeps the baton de manioc and meaty tomato sauces coming, I’m sure we’ll work it out.

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2 thoughts on “Where to start…

  1. Hi Andy, It’s great to see this. I have found Lomie on the map – so Dja Faunal Reserve is Cameroon’s only UNESCO World Heritage Site huh? love Anne

    • Hi Anne,
      Thanks for the note. I was just talking about you, Niger, and Benin the other day! Are you back in Norwich permanently or still skipping over to Africa once in a while?
      I’m very much looking forward to visiting the Dja Reserve – will prob try and suss it out next month. Also I’m planning – in my head, not yet on paper – to come to Europe for the holidays next year. I figure the Haours have gone to the U.S. so many times it’s about time for the Knipes to come to your side of the pond. I think I can even convince some more Knipes of the same. Where do you think you and yours will be then? Geneva? Norwich? Paris?
      My door is always open here. I even have an extra bed!
      Cheers,
      Andy

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