Vendredi le 25 fevrier
Rise ‘n shine! The morning was a mad rush of normal morning prep (last cup of not-quite-boiled-water tea…glad I didn’t get too sick from that), packing, and good-byeing. Luckily Mimi helped me get my suitcase down to the road. The van was 45 minutes late to pick me up, but by 8 we were on our way. Au revoir Dschang! Tu me manqueras!
Some concluding thoughts on Dschang: This town grew on me so quickly! I liked having classes at the university, because it meant increased independence and more interaction with the community (ie street vendors outside the gate).
Plus, I learned a LOT at my homestay. I learned about adapting: stoves and running water? Psh! That ws so two weeks ago. I learned about poverty and my reaction to it: this is what seemed to make Dschang a bit of an emotional roller coaster for everyone—pretty much all of we students either had 1. Family members (generally kids) constantly asking for things or 2. Money go missing at home. Luckily I fell into the first category. Here’s the battle: who am I, a middle class American who makes $7.50 an hour to deprive a kid a 10cent lollypop? On the other hand, I didn’t want my brothers and sisters to expect me to bring them something everytime I came home and/or only like me because of my purchasing power. I spent the whole second week trying to brainstorm things I could get my host parents for their house to help/say ‘thank you’, but couldn’t think of anything. In a way they have everything they need. They have a blender, they just choose to crush things by hand. They have a broom, but they just prefer to use these twig thingys. Who am I to tell them their way’s not as good?
I’d like to think that what they lack in possessions they make up for in joy, but it’s not that simple. Their life is hard. Plenty of Cameroonians are struggling more, but that doesn’t mean that my family didn’t drop comments about not being able to afford meat or ask “see how we suffer here?” when I replied, “no, in the US we don’t cook over a fire…” It’s that sort of thing that starts to twist your gut into a know and sucks the words right out of you.
Anyhoo, 2 hour drive to Bamenda where we’re spending the weekend. We got to spend most of the afternoon walking around town and the market, and though I didn’t hear much Pidgin, I did have fun shopping! (We found ourselves constantly accidentally slipping into French, but I guess that’s a good thing!) Then we had a class about the history of discrimination against Anglophones that was taught by an active member of an organization that is fighting for Anglophone Cameroon to “regain their rightful independence”. He was very passionate. Not so sure I agree with the whole thing.
We had dinner at a really nice restaurant (first time I’d seen a sink with running water since the hotel the first night in Dschang!) and then had the night to feter a bit…it’s not very often that we students all get to spend a night together.
Samedi le 26 fevrier
We spent the morning speaking with leaders in the main opposition party (SDF). In theory there will be national elections this coming fall…we’ll see…
Normally we would have met John Fru Ndi, the SDF chairman (he was once elected president, but somehow *ahem* did not make it into office. *cough, cough* corruption *cough*). He’s touring right now, because he’ll be on the ballet again later this year.
Dimanche le 27 fevrier
After breaking my suitcase zipper (grrr) and eating some delicious banana bread, we were back in the van and headed “home”. Probably the highlight of the trip was when we stopped at a market for lunch and Bobo (our office manager) was eating when all of a sudden a huge bird swooped down and stole his food right out of his hands!