Sadly, my bag did not follow, and somehow ended up in Paris. Although the Cameroon authorities swore it would arrive on the next flight from France, it didn’t show up until five days later, so I spent my first week in the same grubby clothes, washed in the sink with shampoo. At least I blended in smell-wise.
- Yaounde is a typical bustling West African capital city - the air is thick with smoke from a perfectly-intoxicating mixture of humidity, dust, exhaust fumes and burning garbage
- You can buy pretty-much buy anything you need
- From every alleyway (every day) you can hear church music mixed with the traditional African woman’s yelping cry
Highlights of the week:
- The people – fellow volunteers, VSO staff and (some of the) locals made the week a great one!
- Hot water – who knew I’d see it again after I left Canada?
- Saint Tropez – the best restaurant in Bastos! 1,500 CFA (approx $3 Canadian) for roasted chicken or fresh fish, vegetables and plantains/rice/vegetables, plus $1 for a litre of beer!
- Visiting a Senegalese tailor’s mansion – she makes Cameroonian haute couture (wedding dresses and other interesting/expensive fashion designs) and her house is literally an African museum (she says she is opening a gallery in New York). She invited all the volunteers for a traditional Senegalese dinner on Friday night, consisting of a massive tray of couscous, fresh fish and vegetables, served on the floor of her mansion (and this was after drinks and hors d`oeurves at the British Embassy – needless to say I didn`t fit into most of my clothes after the week was over!)
- We barged in on a board meeting at the Bureau d’Afrique Forest Modal – a joint venture with Canada’s Modal Forests - in which every member stood and greeted us one-by-one (my first lesson in African office etiquette – there is no sense of time, no concept of interruptions or linear train of thought).
Overall, the week in Yaounde was exciting, but exhausting. It is a city full of interest: vibrant and hectic with very few tourists (if any) that is dirty, dusty and brown…yet the colourful people bring it life – as do the crazy ones, such as the taxi driver who jumped out of his car in mid-traffic to smash in our side-mirror in the Marquette Central (I would mention the traffic situation but I wouldn`t want to scare anyone who may be thinking of visiting!)
|The tailor's house where we had dinner|
|Yaounde from the hilltop - the massive square |
white-pillared house belongs to President Biya