Sunday, September 9, 2012

In which I do NOT ride a motorcycle on a bumpy dirt road, thankyouverymuch

Yesterday I went with my friend Audrey to her aunt's house. She lives in Yaounde, but definitely on the outskirts. On the way there we took two different taxis (two? three?) I don't actually remember, but it was definitely more than one and less than four.

The point is, it's really far and taxis don't go there super frequently. I appreciated this when we got to the house, we sat around back where there was a really huge mountain (but not Mt. Cameroon) to look at, blissfully distanced from the "BEEP BEEP BEEP. BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP" of downtown Yaounde. I helped wash some dishes and tried to help cook, but was terrified of the way they wield knives here. (Cue Senegal flashbacks to being mocked for my onion cutting skills) They basically cut things like onion slices and plantain peels the way people peel apples with knives. So we decided that I would learn how to cook by observation. Most of the morning was spent with me entertaining the 4 month-old baby while they cooked and people asking me what country I'm from every time I met somebody new. This seems to be a common occurrence. Apparently I sound "francophone" but "not French". Meaning it sounds as though French is my native language, but I don't have an American accent or a French accent. We have an interesting conversation about how "most white people are racist and they go up to Africans and try to rub the dirt off of their skin in Europe." Yeah. Not that I've experienced anyone trying to wipe the powder off of my skin or anything...

Anwyay, so we ate some chicken, they goaded me into eating the top of the chicken bone like they do (Never again), and then Audrey and her cousin suggested we go down to the main road so they can charge their phone credits. We did not charge their phone credits. What ended up happening, as usual, is that everyone stared at me and shouted things at me. This lady shouts across the street for us to come into her shop, as she has fish imported from the White House. Mmmhm...ok. So we go into her restaurant and the two other girls pick out a fish. (Seriously? Didn't we just eat chicken five minutes ago?) Also these fish were raw and just hanging out on a counter top right near the oven. Now I'm not super picky about FDA regulations while traveling, I adhere to the 10 second rule, thank you. So we tell the lady I'll share with Audrey and she leads us to the "Section VIP", giving us the option to sit in areas Martin Luther King Jr. or Nelson Mandela. We choose Nelson Mandela. I drink a tonic.

On returning to the house, we find ourselves just missing a huge downpour and we hang out inside with the baby for a little while. Eventually a TON of people show up for Audrey's uncle's monthly meeting of the like Super Manly Men's club or something and the kids' table in this instance becomes the pantry. So we eat in there. We talk. They eat. More peanuts are circulated around. (Cameroonians eat peanuts like it's their job.) The food was basically more plantains for me and beef hooves which I casually avoided. Eventually it gets dark and we decide it's probably time for us to head back. We walk down to the main road and someone says "We'll just take a couple of motorcycles up the hill." here's the thing about motorcycles and me. My mother has told me, in the United States where roads are paved, that should someone ever offer me a motorcycle ride, there is no way I should ever do that. So I guess around here motorcycles are like cheap taxis. You smush three people on one and head on your way. No.Way. I continue to resist their explanations of "it's ok, we'll put you in between two of us" and eventually Christian and I decide to walk up the hill. So we catch a taxi, driving one hour in between two girls belting out Celine Dion, and finally we arrive home. Yippee! Home!

Except the guard to my apartment has locked the gate and gone to hang out with his buddies. I should note at this point that Audrey is an hour late for a mass that she is supposed to be singing in. So she makes a few calls, we wait about twenty minutes for him to unlock the gate and fetch the guard to unlock the stairs (at least I'm really safe?) and I get home, culture shock abounding, and collapse into bed.

Yeah, it was one of those days.


jennyp said...

It sounds like quite the experience. I am happy you did not ride triple riders on the motorcycle- probably with no helmets! It was very cool that you got to spend the day with a family- what a great thing to do. I hope you brought a gift?! Hey when you are with families that that, ask them about autism/special education for me. Wondering about services in Yaounde. Enjoy your sunday and glad you got back into your apartment!
love Mom

Kristina said...

that sounded awesome. your posts are really fun to read. keep them coming! your nephew misses you so much he is on a sleeping strike until you return.

Alex said...


EP said...

I was on strike from riding a motorcycle.