Friday, December 11, 2009

Cameroon: The Last Leg

Friday, Sepember 25th

Since Brian was leaving in the evening, we went to the Parc National de la Mefou (National Park of the Primate) instead of working.

“It is where rescued primates are taken. As many as can be are released back into the wild, but most cannot and so live there for the rest of their lives. That’s a long time considering that many are orphaned as babies when they come and can live into their forties (chimpanzees).” (Excerpt from Cameroon journal.)

“Each enclosure is multiple acres or hectares and has one or two keepers. The fences are very high and electric so that it delivers a shock if touched. The interior perimeter is kept short to prevent the inhabitants from climbing above the fence and leaping out. However, they are only out during the day. They are fed in cages in the evening and locked up for the night. Reason being, when the keepers are gone they contrive escape using wood sticks to pry the wires apart and prevent electrocution. If escape does happen, most are easily caught again by their keepers. The keepers are part of their troupe/group and so are family. Escaped individuals will come to them when called.” (Excerpt from Cameroon journal.)

It is really a fascinating place housing chimpanzees, gorillas, and baboons along with a few other small primates. When the young animals are brought in, they are put with others of their kind an in their age group. This becomes their group and when they're old enough to leave the nursery, an enclosure is built for the group. They are never split up. One of the gorilla groups that we were able to visit has been there long enough that the second generation has begun. It was interesting to see the very evident family relationships of alpha male (Dad), Mom, and aunties and uncles.

From there we went to the SIL Cameroon Training Center compound to shop at the boutique. One of the women keeps it stocked with sewn items made by a women's self-help cooperative in Bafut, called Seheco.

 Saturday, September 26th

It was a rest day!

Dad and Lendl went to a soccer game and I stayed back at the compound reading and doing laundry. At one point in the afternoon I thought I heard rain, ...but it wasn’t raining. It kept getting louder and then I remembered. The rain was coming across the city and I was hearing it on the metal roofs as it got closer and closer.

I ran out to the line and began frantically pulling down the clothes. Just as I stepped back onto the verandah, the rain reached me. I was just in time.

Sunday, September 27th

"Covenant Baptist Church. It was planted by the first church that we went to here in Yaoundé. Their service is bilingual, so everything said in English was repeated in French. While the pastor preached in English, he would pause every 1-3 sentences so that the turn-talk could repeat it in French." (Excerpt from Cameroon journal.)

It was really good to see how the Cameroonian church has grown in both size and leadership. They are firm in their faith and are sharing with others. It was good to see that what my parents invested in when I was a child had grown and flourished. The pastor that did the sermon is a Cameroonian who evangelizes Muslims. They have missionaries! We could use a few of them here.

We rested that afternoon, then joined SIL people at the Cameroon Training Center for an evening chapel. My Dad volunteered to do the devotional. His topic was about living by faith instead of just trying hard. It was really good.

Monday, September 28th

Another work day. I was looking forward to putting up ceiling pieces with the same men I had the week before. But new guys had been hired and, being new, they were not experienced with working with white people as the other construction workers were. They might have been in awe if I had been a guy, but since I was a gal they really didn't know how to respond or what do do with me. I stuck it out and did my best to let them know I was capable without treading on their toes and being a nasty white woman. It was certainly an adventure.

Tuesday, September 29th

I switched jobs again and got apprenticed to a wall builder.

"I watched for a bit, then he showed me how to place adn adjust the blocks. He did the ends adn the corner and had me do the middle ones." (Excerpt from Cameroon journal.)

Those cement blocks are heavy and seem even heavier when you have to lift up and set down slowly and fairly accurately. I was really missing my muscles I had back in my picture framing days. I could have used them.

For supper Dad and I were the guests of an interesting couple.

"He's a linguistic consultant and she's a literacy consultant. They travel a lot, both together and separately." (Excerpt from Cameroon journal.)

Since they not only travel, but move house a lot they don't weigh themselves down with a lot of possessions. The apartment they hosted us in was rented along with all the contents. The only things that were theres were the necessary personal items and a very few decorative items acquired during their stay there.

Wednesday, September 30th

"Today I got to help Deudonner finish the wall. He had me do one row of mortar but after that he had me just hand him blocks and keep him supplied...It was too high for me and he needed to get the wall done that day." (Excerpt from Cameroon journal.)

It was SO HOT that day. I think the only dry part of me was the last half inch on the tips of the bandanna around my neck.

"For dinner we had more African food. Several forms (3 to be exact) of njama-njama, fried plantains, boiled plantains, and boiled sweet potatoes." (Excerpt from Cameroon journal.)

Thursday, October 1st

Since Deudonner was off in his village negotiating a bride price I ended up back on the little tractor. I cut a new place to keep the gravel they use for concrete and finished up with the back hoe just as it sprung a leak.  So, while Dad and Johannes tried to see if they could fix it, I finished up with a hand shovel. It was another extra hot day, so I took longer breaks than normal in the shade, keeping myself hydrated.

When I was done with my spot, I went to help Lendl. He looked as tired as I felt. I kept him supplied with dirt while he compressed it in the hole he was filling up by hand.

Our after dinner bonus was getting to see Lendl's pictures of where he lives in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It's a beautiful country which looks quite run down from the civil war. There's some real need there.

Friday, October 2nd

It was our last day in Cameroon. Since I had a lot to do before leaving, I didn't go to work at the school site. Instead I did laundry. That was a little more stressful than I was hoping for since it was overcast and humid. While trying not to think about the laundry getting dry enough to pack, I sorted through things and started to pack them up. Throughout the day, people kept showing up with letters for me to post back in the States for them. I think I ended up with almost 300 pieces. They were good padding for the ceramics that I was taking back.

I kept checking on the laundry, turning it occasionally, trying to shorten the drying time. Finally, mid-afternoon, it was dry enough.  You see, in Africa you don't want to take your laundry off the line too soon since if it isn't completely dry there are these little bugs that like to burrow into your skin get the picture. One way to take care of that problem if your laundry won't dry is to iron it and I REALLY didn't want to have to iron everything.

After supper, we finished up the last of our packing and waited for Mickey to take us to the airport. I sat on the veranda for awhile to soak in the sounds and smells one last time. When he did come, there was another family in the van who were also going to the airport to return home to the States.

"When we pulled into the airport parking lot, a swarm of porteurs raced across the ground toward us. We grabbed our small things before opening the doors so that a porteur wouldn't grab them. They were a little disappointed with how little luggage there was for so many people."

We boarded our SM Brussels flight, and left Africa.

Saturday, October 3rd

We were home again. My sister and her family met us at the airport and it was so good to see them. I still had some Cameroonian money so I gave each of the kids a 1000 franc note.

"We collected our things from baggage claim and went out to the car. Brenda had some bread, cheese, sausage, and apple slices to munch on and Dad and I talked about our trip all the way home." (Excerpt from Cameroon journal.)

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