We thought we would share about everyday living here in Cameroon. While some of these may sound like complaints, we really do love it here. It just takes some getting used to.
Here they are:
- One of Teresa’s favorite quotes from this past year is “WHAT?!? I have goosebumps in Cameroon?” Yes, it is sunny most of the time and sometimes gets hot, but when it rains and the wind is blowing there are times when you want to put on long pants, socks, and a sweatshirt!
- Grocery shopping is an all-morning affair. We have some nice grocery stores here in Yaoundé, but first you have to battle the traffic to get across town. Then, you have to go to more than one store to get everything that is on your list. Thankfully Nicoline is able to buy vegetables and fruits for us weekly at the market and if we need something quickly we can get it from one of many local vegetable stands.
- Cooking is NOT quick! You have to clean and soak your fresh vegetables (and cleaned dishes) in bleach water. You have to cook with filtered water. You have to sift your flour, sugar, rice to make sure there are no bugs in them. You have to fight with the ants that have taken over your counter because you left just a tiny crumb of food on the counter.
- Teresa may have gotten used to the ants, but she has not gotten used to the cockroaches or mice that like to occupy the kitchen. Matthew has become her hero with killing and disposing of these critters.
- Our clothes hang out to dry, but it is important to remember to bring them in before it gets dark because of the mango bugs that will lay their eggs in the clothes. There have also been times when we hear thunder in the distance and we take off running to get the clothes in before it rains or realized after it has been raining for 10 minutes that the clothes were still on the line.
- Most days, our main mode of transportation is walking. We walk on dirt (or mud during rainy season) roads, paths that cut through cornfields (see photo below), and along busy taxi-filled roads. We walk around trash in the roads, through soccer games being played in the alley, dodge animals (chickens, goats and dogs) that may be crossing our paths, and we wait for a split second opening in traffic to run across the road. It is always an adventure.
- If we do need to go into town, it is easy to catch a taxi along the road. You stand along the road, the taxi drives up and beeps. You tell the driver where you would like to go and for how much, and then if he accepts he beeps again and you climb in, if he drives off … well you try the next taxi that beeps at you. When you do get a taxi, you usually get to share it with 5 other people (not including kids)! Then you pray that traffic is good and that you will not be stuck in a hot car with lots of other people for very long!
- When driving you have to be aware at all times as to what is going on around you because there is not much that is constant about the traffic. The number of lanes of traffic is always changing. Motorcycles drive down the middle of the road, and oncoming vehicles are just as likely to be in your lane as their own. Many times the other cars are just inches away from you.
- We have been thankful to have electricity most days. So far, the power cuts have not lasted more than 8 hours. When the power goes out we turn on the lanterns and continue with whatever we were doing and laugh, 2 minutes later, when the power comes back on.
- It is hard to find a quiet place in Yaoundé. There is lots of noise at all hours. We are awakened by the birds squawking outside our window. Throughout the day we can hear the traffic from the nearby road as well as the taxis honking. We hear the children playing and people yelling. As it gets closer to evening, you hear the loud music from the local bars. And even in the middle of the night you can hear the log and beer trucks rumbling down the road.
- We usually have good water pressure and have only had a few days when we have had little to no water. So we can still easily wash dishes, clothes, and take warm showers!
- Eating out is a treat! There are some good restaurants, but traveling into town is always an outing and then you never know how long it will take to get your food. (There is a good chance that they truly may have to go and kill the chicken!)