Tuesday, April 26, 2011


Before I went to France, I never thought about the possibility that not only would the LANGUAGE be different, but the small, everyday GESTURES would be too ! In Cameroon I’ve become quite fond of two very popular hand motions. The first is a wave of sorts and means “come”, and the second looks like “paper” in rock-paper-scissors and means “beaucoup” (a lot). Be on the lookout—I’ll definitely be bringing these home with me.

So, speaking of beaucoup, what is there beaucoup of in Cameroon? Here’s a little mash-up of things I don’t think I’ve mentioned yet.

First, there are a lot of albinos in Cameroon! I don’t recall ever seeing one before I left home.

There is also a lot of corruption. Unfortunately. I don’t think I’ve met a person yet that doesn’t believe the government is corrupt. It’s really depressing to think about what they’re doing to their people.

There is a lot of carrying-things-on-heads. Ok, ok, I know I’ve mentioned this already, but I’m just so intrigued and impressed and amazed by this. It blows my mind to see someone walking down the street (la di da) with a jumble of buckets as tall as me…or maybe a cage of baby chicks….or maybe a tray of omelet supplies, including the raw eggs atop his head.

There is lots of nose picking in public.

There is a lot of voter apathy. What's the point in voting if you know ahead of time who will win? Only one person I've met has told me they will vote this coming fall in the election. (not my parents, not my professors...)

There are a lot of bad roads. Every time I imagine my poor car driving on them I cringe.

There is a lot of religion here. Most people are something, whether it’s Christian, Muslim, some traditional religion, or a combo of the above.

There is a ton of greenery here. Not in the city, but everywhere else it’s still all….jungle-y? I don’t know how to describe the landscape. Jungle seems a little strong. Basically, it seems like a lot of trees to someone who’s used to living where ‘the wind comes sweeping down the plains’.

Finally, there are a lot of “deuxieme bureaus” here. Literally that translates to “second office”. Can you guess what it means figuratively? ….”mistress”. We had a male lecturer at one point who told us that “everyone” has a deuxieme bureau. I think it’s safe to assume he was exaggerating, but still.