Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The shots

I couldn't believe how well the kids took getting the shots. Only two really cried. I couldn't even watch, what a weenie I am. It was really quick and then the nurse working with Ann explained proper teeth brushing techniques in French. That is the last time I will see the kids. However, I know Katie will continue you this next year and I am going to organize donations from the US.

Last Orphanage visit

Ann had the great idea to use the funds we raised to get vaccinations for the orphans. This round we get tetanus and meningitis. While there we distributed toothbrushes and toothpaste that Katie got donated from back home in Michigan. One of the ladies who works there had her little daughter, Francine, and we all clamored to hold her. She fell asleep on Katie, irresistible.

We also gave out little booklets in French that are about a gorilla named Koko. It is to help educate the kids about not eating bush meat. Gorillas are endangered here and there is still poaching going on.

Kids in their glory

Something that is different than American Proms is the the kids all get shots together in different groups. Many of them spent most of the night posing instead of dancing. This shot is of the seniors.

Prom 2008

We chaperoned Prom last weekend. It was at the American Embassy. Pete and I worked 'security' at the front entrance. It was fun checking their names off the list and getting the first view of the kids all dressed up. It was not fun explaining that they could not bring in cameras or cell phones with camera because of security reasons.

Ahhh... the romance

Beautiful sunsets.... the roaring waves... no seagulls. Ahhh.... wait... what is that off in the distance? It's an oil tanker!
Why go out shopping when the merchandise comes to you? In Kribi men walk up and down the beach all day with things like necklaces, masks, statues, and paintings. A hard way to make a living when no one is buying.

Last beach trip

A few weeks ago we took out last beach trip to Kribi. It was a nice large group and we all had a nice time together. Pete got roasted the first day so it was nice when there was a huge rain storm the second day. The water might be murky, but it is warm like bath water. That is our friends' youngest son, great shot huh? I will definitely miss the beaches here!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Potluck Party

We had a send off for friends, Sandrine and Dgybi, who went back to France early. Everyone brought some yummy food and we got to say our goodbyes. They are expecting a baby and were eager to get back to family and friends. Peter and I are with the lucky couple. I am with Kristie in the other shot.

Sill Here

I know, I know... I haven't blogged in a long time. Our camera broke so I had no photos to post and the photos are the thing everyone is interested in anyways. Luckily Katie kindly let me get some of her photos. We have less than a month to go. Mixed emotions, really ready to go, but sad to leave the excellent friends we have made.

Monday, March 24, 2008

The Female Lake

The pictures don't do it justice, just breathtaking. The moment we looked over the edge to this view was one of my favorites from the whole trip.


It took us 2 hours and 45 minutes to do the hike. We were happy to have beaten Tom and Jennifer to the top, they had driven up in his car with the picnic supplies.

It was hot as you can see by my soaking wet t-shirt. The boys are Hadison, Leanghi, and Divine-our guide.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Hike

Peter, Meredith, John, Leanghi, Hadison and I trekked up the mountain to the volcanic lakes. It was on a dirt road, not through the rain forest, for at least 3 miles going up, up, up. It was really pretty, no air pollution, and mostly overcast so not too hot. We were guided up by a local boy named Divine. This is a shot of a church we saw on the way. It was full of people attending Palm Sunday service. Pete is with Hadison, aka Sporty Spice, who actually ran the whole way down the mountain when we were done. Meredith and I were still impressed by the fact there were signs telling us where to go.

Palm Wine Hut

As part of our welcoming into the compound we were brought to the palm wine "hut". It is where the MEN congregate to drink the local liquor, so it was a big deal that we girls got to go in. It is made from tapping a palm tree in the morning and the sap ferments by afternoon. The one time I tried it last year it was sweeter than this one. I cannot equate it to anything I have ever had before... it was fizzy, but did not have the kick of hard liquor. It was one of those moments where we just had to take the plunge. They gave us a communal glass, which was still wet (we have to dry everything so we don't get sick), I am sure not washed with any sort of soap, and drank with all the toasts they gave us. At times things can be very formal here, many speeches and acknowledgements. They rose their glass to Tom- a son to them all- many times, saying he was a true son of Africa because he came back. It was actually quite touching and nice for him. Meredith, Jennifer, and I took a sip and the poured the remainder in Hadison's glass. Pete got out of it because he was on medicine--you can get very ill if you drink liquor while trying to rid yourself of parasites! Most of the men were three sheets to the wind so it started to get loud with laughter as everyone vied for a chance to get their picture taken. We were very popular, many pictures were taken, but not too many turned out as they were so blurry.

Our walk back to the hotel was beautiful and moonlit, we all crashed early to gt ready for the big hike up to the twin lakes.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Upper Arm Work Out

Jennifer and I are trying to pound the cassava. Now I know why so many people here have such cut arms! The sacks are filled with coffee beans that will be exported for sale. Like the tea plantation we visited last year, every available place is terraced to grow their cash crop. Farming here is nothing like the states, all done by hand, no machines to help out.

Traditional Cooking Hut

We were introduced to everyone. The little kids followed us around and delighted in getting their pictures taken. We were shown how the cassava root is mashed and each took a turn at it. It was unbelievably hard! It is a root about the size of a rolling pin, but wider. They boil it and then while it is still piping hot use a stick to mash it in large bowls. It has no nutritional value, just a starch to use as a filler. It is the base for much of what the locals eat. We have had it, it is like pasty mashed potatoes with no flavor whatsoever.

The cooking hut shown here is about 110 years old. Just a few months ago part of the roof fell in and it is now used as storage. The materials used is a plant grown here. It has a snowflake-like pattern internally that helps retain heat. It is amazing what nature provides for us if you need it!

Town Shots

Meredith and I on a cool looking root system. That is the main road behind.
Pete, Tom and Hadison at a bar we sat at to wait out a rain storm.

We eventually made it to the family Tom got close with when he was in PC. The tree in the background is a coffee tree- the main source of income in the area-- it ahs laundry drying on it. Up front is the water source for about 10 families.


After a pretty long day of driving we made it to Bangem. The hotel was about the nicest we have stayed at so far--no overwhelming smell of mold or urine and for only 10,000 cfa (about $20 US) a night! Tom did a fantastic job of making out a menu and cooking for us the whole time. Meredith, Jennifer, and I knew we wouldn't eat the local food. Pete decided not to after recently visiting the doctor and being diagnosed with not one, but 2, amoebas and was on medication. We walked around town a bit . We noted that this area was much more clean, organised, and in general friendlier than the other areas of Cameroon we have been to. I believe it was partly that it is an Anglophone province, that Tom is something of a celebrity there, and this is the first area we have been to that makes it a bit easier on tourists. There were signs for the lake we hiked to the next day and even a road sign!

Taxi Stand

We stopped for a drink at a taxi stand in a village on the way to Bangem. It is about 40 minutes down the mountain from it. Basically there are a series of shacks/shops where people can buy supplies and get a beer while they wait for a bush taxi to become available. You can wait all day for it to fill up. Not because there are not enough people, noooooo-oh. They wait all day because they overload the vehicles with people and products. I tried to get shots of it as we waited, hopefully you can pick out what I describe. In the first two pictures towards the back you can see trucks overloaded with people and supplies. The last shot is of a little boy balancing a tray of dried fish on his head, for sale to eat.

Lower Shots

We took a little path to see the waterfall from a lower view. Meredith is at the top of the steps we climbed. We were surprised that there were stone steps, usually it is just dirt. Hadison was our model at each place, we kept calling him new GQ names. He is Cameroonian, but had never traveled to this part of the country so it was an adventure for him too.

Spring Break

This year we went with a great group from school to the Southwest Province, specifically the village of Bangem. Tom, a co-worker, was a Peace Corps volunteer there about 15 years ago, had talked a lot about it, and wanted to share it with us. I am so glad he did. This was our smoothest trip yet. We went in two cars and our biggest difficulty was a flat tire.

These shots are on the way to Bangem on the first day. While going down the highway we saw an overloaded bus driving with a man clinging on the back. He actually got back into the bus while were driving about 100 kilometers per hour!

The red car is Tom's, passing the bus. The scenery was much different, more lush and mountainous. Lastly, a waterfall we stopped to check out and give our legs a stretch.