Monday, July 6, 2015

First Impressions

It's strange...Even when I moved to Kentucky or Detroit, I don't think I have ever had an influx of new information quite like this. Culture, sayings, a new money system, people, the market (I'll explain more), and...potholes? Yeah, we'll go ahead and call them potholes even though they are more like sinkholes or ditches. Basically, you close your eyes and pray the car makes it over them. Seriously, I thought Detroit's roads were bad... 

Anyway, back to first impressions...

After what felt like a million hours in the air, cramped into confined spaces, we landed in Douala. We had been forewarned that Douala is hot and sticky, and I think the words used were "you are on to greener pastures". The sisters welcomed us warmly, a wonderful welcome to Cameroon. The next morning, we started off early for the drive to Bamenda. The drive started with traffic to rival the 405 at rush hour. I tried to sleep a little, but there is only so much sleeping you can do when you are stuck between a window and a body with your long legs trapped in an uncomfortable position. We passed by plantations of banana, mangos, palms, and papayas or pawpaw. Somewhere along the road, we stopped for pineapples. Okay, let me just say, I have tried local pineapples in three different places now (Hawaii, French Polynesia, and Cameroon), and the pineapples We pulled up and the man selling them slices one open for us. I had to lean over to avoid the juice that was dripping everywhere and the sweetness was out of this world. 

The last hour or so on the road gets bad. Potholes and cars and busses dodging them. Inside the car, you dodge this way then that way then fly forward and backwards...basically, you don't sleep and you pray nothing bad happens. It didn't. We were fine. Our driver knew the road well, and he navigated it the best he could. So we finally pull up at the Newburn's house. We are tired, but the excitement of meeting the people we had heard so much about helped to curb the fatigue. There were children, friendly faces, and a hot dinner waiting for us. I will forever be thankful for Joy, Logan, Eric, Jen, Brent and their kids for welcoming us and offering words of wisdom. 

It was bittersweet watching everyone trickle away. First, Alicia left for Shisong. Then Martha, the Burket-Thoenes, and the Newburn kids left for Njinikom, and finally the Horne's departed for Kumbo. It was the first moment where my stomach sort of hit my toes, and I felt alone. I wasn't. I had Joy, but I only have her for a week and then I will have Cody, the male calico cat. Because of that, she and I have not stopped. Get this fixed. Show you this place. Get to the market. How about shawarma? Let me introduce you to this person and that person. Like I said, it is a lot of information. I got to meet Elsie who is a Canadian that runs the homeschooling program here. She's been in Cameroon for twenty years. I left her house with an open invitation. That helps. I have someone I can go to. I have a friend that will be in Bamenda for the next three years. 

So the market...since I promised...The market is overwhelming at first. The lanes are narrow. There are people everywhere and everywhere people are trying to get you to buy their goods. Your senses are assaulted by the smells and colors, and you have to watch your feet because the ground is uneven. I met some amazing people in the market and figured out where to get most things I need. 

Things are coming along, but there is still a long way to go. 

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