Thursday, January 8, 2009

Life in Bamenda

As the plane lands in Douala and in Yaoundé, you can look down at an apparently random series of lights. The same is true when you come over the hills towards Bamenda. These pattern-free lights are not there when you land in Manchester, Liverpool or Heathrow. Nor are they when you travel along the A55. We have long strings of lights, which enable you to pick out the roads and streets. There is no street lighting here in Cameroon, so that the random sprinkling of lights reveals no pattern at all. When there is a power cut, as happened yesterday and tonight, everything becomes pitch black – the only lights coming from car headlights. It was in such a minute of blackness that I fell last night, grazing my arm, tearing the sleeve of my Van Heusen, and staining shirt and trousers with the red sand and gravel so prevalent here. I’m none the worst after applying a plaster, but the red stains won’t wash out!

The work is becoming ever clearer. I’m grateful to Canadian volunteer Paul Mercer for his insights. You’ll find him on one of the pictures. I’m hoping to attach pictures of Rose, who looks after the Baptist accommodation, and some of the place where I’m working. The building is a bit spartan from a U.K. perspective, but it does have some modern equipment.

I’ve had more experience of the yellow taxis. I’ve sat in two with holes in the floor and two with broken windscreens. On the way home tonight I had to share the front passenger seat with a young Cameroonian woman. She didn’t complain, and nor did I!


Gill Jewell said...

Well Bill, who needs the Archers? A day in the life of adventurous folk is much better.

Maybe the holes in the floor of the yellow taxi were strategically placed in case of breakdown?

So pleased to see you getting your priorities right - sampling the local delicacies (we're not talking taxi companions here).

It is reminiscent of when I experienced Corsica for the first time back in the sixties - remote mountainous area with no hot running water, washing M & S jumpers in the same water font from which the cows drank - and TV? You were joking .......... A complete culture change, but exciting to experience.

Hope once the "real work" kicks in, you still find time to entertain us with quirky news - oh yes, by the way, I'm sure I can do something about the shirt replacement!

No doubt the weight is dropping off too - all that trudging.

Will keep checking your progress/adventures.

Much love - Gill

Bill Chapman said...

Thanks for keeping in touch, Gill.

I might leave my tormn shirt here as a generous gift to the caretakrer.

Yes, I'm losing weight by walking up and down the hills of Bamenda. Things are cheap here if you're willing to haggle - I'm not! There are two supermarkets in the town, I've discovered. One is called Vatican. They have marked prices - but high ones. What am I to do?

Elinor Chapman said...

Learn to haggle?