TUESDAY Feb 15
I have officially picked out my morning teeth-brushing-spot (There’s not a designated one—no one else seems to brush as regularly) I peek around the corner of the house, and I can see the mountains in the distance, which look like silhouettes in the morning light. Beautiful.
Don’t think I mentioned, but I really like our new French profs here in Dschang; they’re funny and friendly and start each class with a skit to teach us ‘cameroonianisms’.
After class Ellen and I went to a cyber café (my first!) to work on a project together. Besides not having any luck with our google searches, we walked away with quite a few viruses on our flashdrives (928 bad files on mine alone, according to the dude we paid to clean them off).
I’ve officially begun eating bananas—at 5cents a pop, I can’t afford not to! I LOVE buying snacks on the side of the road all day long. (Orange? Sugary beignet? Yes please!)
When I walk home I pass this group of 10-15 kids on the dirt road near my house playing soccer; looks like a photo straight from national geographic.
Peace out girl scouts!
PS the kids are OBSESSED with my travel alarm clock
WEDNESDAY Feb 16
To the chefferie! Chiefs are a really big deal in Bamiléké culture, so we got to go visit one. The drive was just under 2 hours, but I love car rides here—the countryside’s beautiful and there are fun distractions such as herds of cows in the middle of the road. At the chefferie we: saw dancers/musicians, met the chief, took a tour of the ‘palace’ led by the chief, even got to wine and dine with the chief. Tried palm wine (aka raffia wine) for the first time; it’s a pretty big deal here. The taste was ok-ay, but the smell? Not so much. The chief explained many traditions to us and even recounted how he became chief. In short: his dad died. Left the Jesuit seminary for a few days to come to the funeral. Was arrangingfor his ticket back when suddenly attacked by 10ish men. Fainted. Was dragged off. Held hostage for a while nd was eventually asked if he had a fiancée, because he was to marry that night…4 times!! 22 years later, here he is. We asked how many wives/kids he has now and he refused to say, but he did say that his father had 250ish children!
2 new foods at dinner: “potates”—like potatoes but sweeter—and cabbage, which was surprisingly good when lots of stuff is mixed with it.
THURSDAY, Feb 17
Crazy foggy this morning. Class? The traditional and modern Cameroonian woman. Interesting idea that the concept of inequality of the sexes was brought to Africa by colonizers; before then, women and men had distinctly separate roles, but they were complementary. While western civilizations may look down on motherhood (etc), it’s actually a great honor here, where kids are the greatest thing since sliced bread (the more the merrier!!).
[By the way, I want to clarify an earlier post: my host dad in Yaoundé is not exceptionally sexist, he was just explaining to me the typical Cameroonian belief.]
Speaking of women, that’s what my friend Ellen and I are studying for our “IDI”—basically a small multi-city research project. General research questions: when married women here begin working, do their duties at home change? Does the level of respect they are given by their husbands change?
So we have to distribute surveys and conduct interviews both here in Dschang and in Yaoundé when we return. Since we arrived in Dschang only 5 days ago and know practically no one, we just have to walk up to random street vendors, explain our homework, hand them a survey, and hope for the best. That’s definitely out of my comfort zone, but most of the women are really friendly and helpful. Plus it’s great French practice and just a good way to interact with the community.
FRIDAY, Feb 18
Continuing along yesterday’s theme, today we had a male guest prof who presented the traditional arguments for the belief that “men lead, women follow”. Wow, does a lecture like that get a group of 11 American girls riled up!
Finally gave into curiosity and bought one of the whiskey packets that most street vendors sell. I mean, who can resist. I’m not exactly a whiskey gal, but according to my friend Sam, it was “really mediocre”. Guess that’s what you get for a 20cent shot.
Ellen and I finished our surveys! Yay!!
When I stopped at the salon on my way home I found Allison there getting her hair done. Whew! They ended up having to finish it back at our house…I think it took 5-6 hours, but it looks awesome. They did it with blond ‘mech’…hmmmm…maybe I’ll try something like that??
It meant we ate dindin quite late. 10pm is quite a contrast to my 4:30 Yaoundé dinner. Potates for the 3rd day in a row. Good thing I’m a fan.
Maman made a comment about how I MUST return and do my ISP here—makes me feel loved! Speaking of which, I know Therese really likes me too, because she was sad to see me go. Anyhoo, who knows where I’ll end up for my ISP…I really like it here in Dschang and for the most part I really like my family, but 1. The kids are distracting, and that would make getting work done really hard 2. I’m simply not used to how the parents yell at their kids. Big cultural difference.
A bit about Dschang:
-less westernized than Yaoundé
-mountainous and beautiful!! (minus the trash everywhere. My family literally uses their yard as their trashcan.)
-red, red, red dirt roads. It’s cool looking, but it means EVERYTHING here is perpetually dirty. I cannot wait to get ‘home’ and get my feet clean. I’m telling you, there’s even dirt when I blow my nose.
-Instead of taxis there are motos…we’re not allowed to use ‘em
-It’s a bit cooler here, which means the weather is perfect!