Sunday, January 4, 2009

I've arrived!

Here at last! I arrived in Yaoundé, the capital of the Republic of Cameroon on Friday night at 8.25 pm, But there was no one to meet me as I stood there in 30 degrees! My appearance with a lot of luggage attracted interest from the local rogues and my mobile is useless here, but after an hour I was able to call to a VSO officer who eventually came to pick me up. All’s well that ends well. I'm staying here in the capital to get my bearings before moving on to Bamenda on Monday.

This morning, Ibrahim who heads VSO operations here, a delightful man, gave me a tour of the city. It really is hot here, with everything green, and plants in full bloom in January. This is a bustling, dynamic city with a variety of religions. On the street you here French and local languages.

What strikes me at once is the red soil, the number of small bars almost like little huts by the roadside, the fact that people carry all sorts of things on their heads, like a bunch of plantain, without needing their hands to steady them. Another striking aspect of life here is the strength of religion. Catholics, Muslims and various Protestant denominations exist alongside one another.
I'm becoming clearer what is expected of me here. I'm going to do some sort of Training Needs Analysis to start with. I certainly need to talk to volunteers and the organisations they work with to see what the need really is.

I had my first Cameroonian meal today: a lunch of chicken and plantain chips, with a spicy (not too spicy) sauce. My evening meal was of grilled fish. They seem to eat a lot of fish here.
An intriguing aspect of life here is the system of little yellow taxis. They exist in great numbers, prowling the streets looking for customers. They squeeze in five people, each of whom pays the standard fare of 200 local francs. They are often very old and battered, but clearly still roadworthy. I took a taxi with Joseph into the centre of the city to buy a new mobile phone. Thanks, Orange in GB, for arranging for my mobile to be useless here.

It's a long haul ahead, so I'm pacing myself,


llysmeirion said...

Good to hear all is going well so far. Lovely photo. Have a good trip to Bamenda tomorrow

Brian Barker said...

Congratulations Bill, and safe journey onward!