Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Happy Month Anniversary, Cameroon

A month ago I was in the backseat of the SIT car, driving too fast through Yaoundé on my way from the airport to Benedictine monetary/hostel at the top of Mont Febé which was home for a week of orientation. I’m slightly addicted to driving too fast, and Cameroonians have this down to an art form. There was wind in my hair and a bit of dust in my lungs and the smell of heat and city, and just so much joy because I was finally, after four years, back in Africa.

Despite the relaxed Cameroonian attitude towards life/time, I still feel like I’ve been flying since then. I can’t believe it’s been a month already. There are so many thoughts and experiences I have wanted to capture, but I have been too busy living them to bother writing them down. My head’s constantly a blur of new information and impressions, but here is a snapshot of some of them over the last month:

          The sound of Annie, my host mom in Yaoundé, singing nonstop around the house. After just two weeks in Yaoundé, Annie’s lilting, not quite off key singing sounds like home. 
My shoe, vaulting over heads in the fancy nightclub when my 30 year old Cameroonian dance partner dipped me and whiskey and soda and his impressive dance skills made me mistakenly think that I, too, could dance. I proceeded to try a leg/kick/flip thing that I kind of learned swing dancing years ago, with unfortunate results.
·         Tonight, dancing around the living room with my little host sister.

·         Madeline, Justine and I bent over laughing, collapsed on the dusty intersection on the road to the SIT office in Yaoundé. When Madeline fell with her giant backpack when we were packing up for Dschang, and none of us could get up we were laughing too hard.

·         Omelets inside a baguette, baguettes with Tarentina, baguettes with dinner, a whole baguette eaten on the way home from class without even realizing it, marching through Dschang happily munching.

·         Luic, my 15 year old sort-of neighbor in Yaoundé, and the laughing head shake of incomprehension he has when my French is particularly horrible.

·         Swamp ass, all day everyday.

·         This feeling of complete awe at everything I have to learn. I know nothing and I want to know everything—the language, what books about women and Africa Professor Noupa thinks are best, how to wash my sandals correctly, at exactly what time in the afternoon you switch from bonjour to bonsoir (different people seem to do it differently) where the line between universal human rights and cultural imposition is drawn, what Annie wants to do here PhD research on (I asked once and then forgot and need to ask again), why the dirt is red, everything.

·         Skirt hiked up, squatting in the kitchen with my Dschang host sister, washing dishes and talking.

·         Wearing my pagne (wrap skirt) from Mali for the first time, and my Dschang host mom telling me I am a real African woman and wanting to explode with joy.

·         Simply walking through the streets being happy. It’s hard for me to stress here because it’s simply too beautiful. I’m too busy trying to soak in the noise of taxis and French and constant friendliness, and the aching vibrancy of colors and life.

·         Chopping onions for dinner, all of us dancing in the kitchen of the Yaoundé SIT office on student’s night. These incredible people who share their brilliance and stories of bowl movements with me, the fact that my host mom asked me who my best friend in the program was and I started listing people until I realized I'd listed everyone. 

Cameroonian traditional dance class and our dance instructor literally grabbing my leg and moving it for me because I fail at rhythm, the feeling of being ok with not being perfect, a miracle  


  1. IT is wonderful to read the posts of your thoughts on your experiences! Brings me to joyful tears!

  2. I just read this and it literally made my eyes well with happy tears. xoxo