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On the road to Bakang/Balatsit. A beautiful and evil water-sucking eucalyptus.

Let's start with Monday.

Monday morning I thought I had a water committee meeting to go to at 10. I was puttering around my house, drinking coffee, getting things together, and 10 o'clock is approaching. This is a little strange, because Marcel is usually 20 minutes early (he is the TIMELIEST Cameroonian). I go to open my door and I find a note on the floor from Marcel.

What I understand from the note is that the meeting was earlier and Marcel is there, but I should still come at 10. So I start busting down to Bakang. As I'm walking, I start to wonder if I have interpreted the note correctly. I didn't bring it with me, so I can't check it. It would make more sense that the meeting is tomorrow, dju-dju, the day before market day. And the wording didn't seem quite right to me.

I tell myself that I'm worrying needlessly, to trust myself, and I keep going. I see a really cool bird in the tree, so I stop and try to take a picture for Lizzie. Of course, it flies off as soon as I turn my camera on. But then another one shows up, and they land in a further off tree. I snap a picture of the tree, even though I can't see them. And I got it! I think it is an African Pied Hornbill. Coooool.

Not the best picture, but it was so cool! I'm going to try and snap him again.

I get to the Bakang Chefferie and there is no one there. NO ONE. Roops! But it is a beautiful day, so I walk around and check out all the water points. Meet some folks in the road, learn a little more patois. There are a few minor problems at the water points, but they are fixed by Tuesday.

Upon my return to the house, I reread the note Marcel left me and find the source of my error. I have completely skipped over the word "demain". Tomorrow. Same time, TOMORROW. Oh well.

I see Marcel in the evening and I tell him about my mistake. He confirms our plans for the next day, and we decide to leave at 9.


Again, I am puttering around the house, waiting for Marcel to show up. I hear a knock on the door (actually I hear a voice going "Tok Tok Tok", because that is the Cameroonian way), and leave my house only to find Maturin!

He is here to take me to meet the farmer he told me we were meeting last Wednesday. 6 days late? This may be a new record. I tell him that I am going to a meeting right now, but I can do it in the afternoon. I will call him when I get back to the house.

He leaves. Marcel shows up. We go to Bakang. Water Committee meeting. They have finished the 8 slow sand filters the Engineers have subsidized, and we give them money to subsidize 8 more. Marcel lectures them on how they need to get their ISH together. Mostly in patois, so I don't understand, but also in French. Anyway. That tone of voice and uncomfortable squirm are kind of universal. People hate admitting they are wrong, so I'm not sure how much good is done by this.

Marcel asks if I have time to go meet a Gabonaise woman. I tell him yes, because I really have to stop saying NO to opportunities, and it's not like Maturin never makes me wait. (I am waiting for him as I type this. Only 30 minutes late, which is on time for him). We walk for another 30-40 minutes.

And it is SO beautiful. I wish I had taken more pictures. I'll walk out again and snap some. Marcel and I have some good conversations. I tell him I'm interested in working with him and he tells me about some of the various projects he is working on. We talk about finding funding, the Peace Corps, the gap between rich and poor, the obligation to help others. All in all it is very pleasant.

We get to the lady's house and Marcel starts talking to her about getting funding from young Cameroonians in Libreville in order to build les toilettes at the hospital in Bamendjou. I get distracted by the baby and a young girl who is there. She seems to be a little slow (developmentally disabled? differently abled?), but real sweet.
"Voila le bebe."
"C'est vrai."
"Le bebe dors."
"No, il ne dors pas."
"Voila ma maman."
"Voila les bananes."
"Ma maman a les bananes."

I get a call from Maturin wondering where I'm at. Marcel and I leave. I ask him if there is a handicap group/center in Bamendjou, and describe CFRASH to him. He says, no, once a year the government gives some rice to the handicapped and that is it. Bummer.

Maturin calls back and tells me to hand the phone to Marcel so he can tell him where we are. (It takes about 3 tries for me to understand this is what I'm supposed to do. French on the phone is so hard!) Marcel explains. A few minutes later, Maturin shows up on his moto. Guess I don't get to go home for lunch/breakfast!

I hop on the moto and Maturin and I head off further down the road to Bangam. To meet a farmer. But. Imagine my surprise when we get there and end up in a classroom with 20 people, and they ask me to give a presentation. Thank goodness I had just given my intro presentation 2 days before and it was fresh in my head. I speak louder this time and more confidently, but I'm really still working out the nuts and bolts of my presentation.

It is SO much easier to have Maturin there. He translates my French into better French. He helps me with points I have forgotten. He clarifies points that I have not made entirely clear. I answer some specific questions that people ask. We talk about the problems in Bangam and what can be done. There are maybe 3 or 4 people who are really interested, and a lot of the other people are sleeping (totally acceptable meeting behavior). We spend about 2 hours presenting, and leave with some good contacts. I meet the director of the Primary school where we are using a classroom. Everyone is reeeally nice.

Afterwards, one man takes us to get us sodas. My French is pretty worn out, 5 hours deep into the day, so mostly I just sit and sip my small Coca and let the conversation flow around me. But it turns out that this guy is hard not to listen to. On top of having these weird blue eyes (just a narrow band of bright blue in between huge pupils and stained whites), he has just recently returned to village after turning 60. He was a pilot for 38 years. It's hard to understand everything, because I don't have much airplane vocabulary, but I pick up the words ailerons and cruising altitude. Wow.

Anyway, this guy is really excited about making improvements to his village. He is interested in starting a pepiniere, and he has a water catchment and water tower right by his house that he had constructed. Neat-o.

Post-soda, Maturin and I head out, a different direction than we came and I am completely confused as to how we will get back to Bamendjou by heading further away from it. But the road makes a slow loop around and I sit back and enjoy the scenery. There is that feeling in the air, that combination of smells, hot sun, breeze and bright greenery, a feeling I only get in summer, that everything is good and this is a time that I will miss and revisit in my future mind. Aaah.

But also the road is bumpy and I wish I had a sportsbra and wish I did not have diarrhea. Oh Motos. I love/hate you.

Finally at around 3:30 I get back home and fall ravenously into a plate of spaghetti omelet. It is heavenly.


Head to Bafoussam for banking and shopping and tailoring. My ride there is so roomy, I am in the backseat with 3 guys. Guys have such narrow hips! We are barely touching! It actually feels more awkward than being jammed in with some large mamis, because once you're jammed, you can just relax into the pile.

The trunk is full of guinea pigs. They make muffled, scared squeaks through-out the journey. I can't imagine eating guinea pigs. Who knows. Maybe I have.

Bafoussam, I walk towards the market and stop at a boutique to print some stuff (pictures for the tailor to use, a report Marcel wrote). I decide to hold off on the bank (no need to carry all sorts of money around all day) and search out some pagne.

Oh pagne! Often when I am pagne shopping I don't think very carefully about what I will use things for and I buy the first thing I see and then later I wonder what I was thinking. This day, I have a plan. I go into every pagne shop, and think carefully about the pagne I like. What will I use this for? Is this a design I want to wear? Are these colors I like? Gosh, sometimes I feel silly for having to put so much thought into everything.

In one shop I buy 2 pagne, one nice quality one with a pretty blue starfish design and a cheaper hot pink one. The lady who runs the boutique is from Bamendjou and we have a nice little chat. I keep on into boutiques, still looking for my beautiful chicken pagne, and more fun things. A lot of the stalls are both pagne vendors and tailors. In one I see this amazing(-ly ridiculous) rainbow-y skirt. I ask if they have the fabric. No. They don't.

I find a boutique with the chicken pagne, but it is uber-high-quality and 4 times what I want to pay. (Ah, 2 times, I really want that chicken pagne!) In another boutique I find the ridiculo-rainbow print, as well as a couple other prints I really like. That boutique has lots of little designs, instead of the traditional foot wide repeating designs that I just can't get into. I drop some Gs for 3 pagne. I find another version of the chicken pagne, but it's got these weird misplaced green spots. I pass.

I head to the frip (fripperie/thrift clothes) section of the market, but get lost along the way and find myself in an entirely new area. Oh Bafoussam market. You are so twisty! I find my way out and pick up another towel, I start to look through frip. A sparkly fou (crazy man) grabs my arm and I say "Laisse-moi," and keep walking. Unfortunately, this is a persistent fou. He starts to follow me, stopping where I stop, walking next to me like we are together, telling me how we will be married, how he is secretly a high up politician with lots of sway, how we must form a budget for having kids. The entire market is laughing at us.

It is uncomfortable. I tell him that he is deranging me and he should leave me alone. He does not leave. One or two guys tell him to leave me alone, but he does not listen (usually the fous will stop when someone else yells at them). I try to find my friend Martine in the veggie market to make him go away, but she is busy, so I just say hi to her and continue on. Sparkly fou continues, too. (He is wearing a gold-lame shirt, a skirt over pants, and has a giant plastic diamond in one ear. Sparkly.)

He follows me all the way to the tailor, but does not follow me inside once I go. Thank goodness. It's been like 20 minutes. Oh Cameroon.

At the tailor, I order 3 dresses, 2 shirts and a pair of hammer pants. Come March 31st, I will have the rainbowiest hammer pants! I am so excited.

I'm exhausted, so I head down to Akwa to grab a ginger ale and wait for Liz and Kiki to show up. They are longer than I hope they will be (though I am known to be a wishful thinker) and one of the guys at the bar also thinks that by being irritating he will win his way into my heart and pants. I am really sick of the majority of Cameroonian guys. I need to find a way to deal with this frustration.

He asks where I'm from, if I have a boyfriend, if I'm married, tries to buy me another soda, a shot of tequila, a beer, asks me why I'm so quiet (because I don't want to talk to you!), blah blah blah blah blah.

Finally Kiki and Liz show up and we head to Les Arcades for some food. Again I am eating my first meal of the day in the afternoon. It is a steak with mushroom sauce and fried plantains. Oh yum! My steak is super tough though, and I haven't finished even half of it by the time Liz and Kiki are done. I go bag-lady style and put my unfinished food in a ziploc bag I have in my purse.

Next stop, bank. The line is 12 deep. Ugh. Here is my problem with the bank. If I use the ATM, I only get big notes which are hard to change in village. If I go inside, I have to wait in line for like an hour to get smaller bills. As of late, I've been getting big bills. Interestingly enough, this results in me spending less money. Excellent. Then I can do things like buy 5 pagne and eat a steak.

Supermarket. My splurge this week is some white chocolate.

Home. Buy some mangos at the market. Sit and talk with Jane for a while. Plant an open bed nursery with seeds I've been germinating. Eat.


It is a public holiday today, the Ascencion. Separation of church and state? Nope. Maturin said he would come get me for a meeting at 9 today. It is 10. The frustrating thing about this is that I am anxious when I am waiting and even though I have time to do things, I can't relax and do them. I will have to be ready to drop them at any time. I need to learn to be more laidback, n'est-ce pas?

(Now it is 4 hours after Maturin was supposed to come. I gave up and left to meet Marcel. Home again and still no Maturin).

Tomorrow I am going to visit another volunteer for a few days. It has been a busy week and I am ready for a little relaxation.

7 of the 8 biofilters in Bakang (the 8th is behind a house). These cost about $30 to manufacture, and Engineers without Borders is subsidizing $20 of the first 16. Unfortunately, for many families, $10 is still a pretty steep price, even for a clean water source. We're working on a solution.
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Productive Day!!

Waking up today was much the same as everyday. I sleep in as long as possible, because it is inconceivable that there is anything more comfortable than my bed. Today, this meant getting up at 9. What a lazy bum I am!

I made a cup of coffee, hoping it would spur me to productivity, or at least deter me from complete sloth. I started downloading a yoga podcast, but this meant I couldn't use the internet for fun and games. What's a girl to do? I finished translating Marcel's work report to send to the EWB. While I understood the report in French enough to get a general idea, translating it into a workable English document was a little more difficult.

As I was finishing up with the translation, I hear a knock on the door and Marie-Noelle's strident voice. I threw on a skirt (somehow short spandex shorts are not appropriate dress here) and answered the door. Shoot, I forgot that she wanted me to go to a meeting today.

She tells me the meeting is now. I have barely got pants (skirt) on and I haven't eaten breakfast or prepared anything for the meeting. I tell her that I have to finish this report before I can go, and ask how long the meeting goes. She says, "Just until 2." (It is now 10:30). I tell her I will try to make it before the end. She says, "Come by 1," and looks disappointed as she leaves. Fair enough, I've kind of bailed on her a lot of times. By kind of I mean actually.

Once inside I look at the report that I have all but finished translating and realize that I have a golden opportunity to actually do some work. And then there is some combination of caffeine, guilt, excitement and having used up all the fun the too-slow-for-streaming-video internet can provide me. I grab my flip chart paper (twice flooded), a box of markers, my tech manual and I whip up a 3-flip chart Intro to Agroforestry presentation. I write out everything I want to say in French, just in case. I make a quick spaghetti-eggs (I'm actually shaking from caffeine, roops!). I change into something more presentable (pajama shirt soooo comfy).

And I walk out the door! And towards the center of town. And behind the Sous-Prefecture. And into a meeting!

It turns out that it is kind of a political meeting and we are in the (unfinished) RDPC building (yes, that is Paul Biya's party). There are three women sitting up on a raised platform, and 8 other women sitting on a bench facing them. (I hear there are normally 25-30 women; my nerves are glad for the low attendance). The president welcomes me and introduces herself. I go around and shake everyone's hands. Everyone goes around and introduces themselves. Each woman is a representative of a different women's group in the area (Bamendjou-Bameka-Bahouan-Batie). I introduce myself un peu. I ask the president if after the meeting I can have 5 or 10 minutes to make a little presentation. She says, "No, it's important, let's do it now."

So I tape up my flip-charts and a little unsteadily make it through my teeny-tiny introduction. They get my "teach-a-man-to-fish" saying and metaphor. After I finish and sit down, the President re-says the majority of the presentation in a much louder voice for the lady who is deaf in one ear. Oops! I remembered to speak slow, but not loud! Marie-Noelle adds a few points that I didn't include. I answer a few questions from the President. She asks what my work plan is. I tell her that if anyone is interested, I can go out to their farm and assess the problems and work with them to use agroforestry interventions. I tell the group I can also go to each of their groups and do formations.

The President thanks me and asks me to come back to do another presentation at next months meeting. She says I can go, and I don't even have to stay for any boring meeting! Yaaaay. We all thank each other and I walk home feeling pretty groovy.

When I get home I decide to plant more of my garden (now there are carrots, broccoli and onions in the ground!) and I clear some brush I left in the path a few months ago. Roops.

Delicious oatmeal. Some internet time. I look up recipes that use wilted lettuce as I've certainly got some. I find some recipes for lettuce soup that look interesting and doable. I get my lettuce out only to find that it is beyond the state of wilt. It has moved firmly into the state of slime. I guess I'll try lettuce soup next time I let my lettuce get past its prime (but not too far past).

My eggplants and cucumbers are starting towards the point of prime-past-ness, so I decide to cook those. I make my favorite eggplant recipe, yum yum, but I quadruple it because I have 4 aging eggplants. It takes a lot longer to cook. But it is the best! You can find the recipe on my Zara Cooks in Cameroon blog here: http://cameroonzaracooks.blogspot.com

What else is going on?

Yesterday was a little eventful. I walked out of my front gate to go buy some bread, but there was a huge crowd standing in the road, and several vans. Jane is there and I ask her what is going on. She tells me that everyone is there for Alice's funeral, and I notice the coffin strapped on top of the van. With some bananas and a spare tire. Alice used to sell veggies next door to my house, but she left a few months ago, I think she was sick and pregnant. I just found out that she died a few weeks ago. This is a major bummer. She was one of my few "friends" around town. And beyond my selfish reasoning, she had 7 kids. Her husband is sick too. I don't know what she died of.

So. Crowd. Vans. Still life with coffin and bananas on van. The vans fill and take off and the crowd stays and chats. Jane screams a little and I turn and see what has scared her. A teeny-tiny fluffball of an unsteady-on-its-legs kitten. I pick it up and scratch its head. "They just look so gross," Jane says. Huh. I've never heard that response to a kitten before! Different world. (I also heard Jane singing the Barney song a few days ago. It somehow sounds nicer here).

Yesterday evening I am washing dishes and Jane comes to my window. "Zara, there is a dog in my house! Will you help get it out?" The dog was in our yard earlier and Jane was throwing rocks at it to try to get it to leave, but it couldn't figure out how. I'm not a fan of dog-rock-throwing, but I think it was the same dog that dug up my one pitiful row of Swiss chard and spinach. I go over to Jane's, she has two friends over and they are all in her bedroom looking for the dog. He has found a way under the bed. We take off the mattress and they try poking at him between the slats. He just hides more. He tries running behind the bed where I am. I hold out my hand and try to make friends, but he is scared and growls. Okay, buddy. We'll try a different way.

I tell them that all the people are scaring him and he just wants to hide, so Jane and her lady-friend go outside, and her guy-friend and I continue to disassemble the bed and prod the dog (who is kind of tiny and really adorable). We finally remove all possible hiding places and provide an exit and the dog runs out and hides in the garden. Poor thang. I can't imagine how or why he got into Jane's house with 3 people in there!

In other (unsavory) news, I've had diarrhea for something like over a month now. I need to go to the health center and figure out what exactly is in my gut so I can kill it. But the idea of going to the health center and waiting and waiting just to poo in a cup and have an awkward French conversation seems so unpleasant. I'm still kind of hoping it'll go away on its own, but, it's been over a month.

Love to you all! Hope your intestines are healthier than mine!

(Also if anyone can explain to me the difference between it's, its and its', I'd be much obliged).

(Also my latest package requests include: one of those cloths you can roll dough on, coriander, turmeric, some liquid Dr. Bronner's peppermint magic soap, and probably some other stuff I can't remember now. Oh, America candy is always nice. I got some smarties and cadbury eggs that were nothing short of epiphanic. And can I say again that everyone who has sent a package is nothing short of AMAZING?! It's really not necessary (soooo expensive!), but it is really nice. Letters and photos are also great. Also thank you letters are sloooooooowly on their way.)


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Qu’est-ce qui se passe? That is to say, what is up?

Last week was tough. I was having some serious doubts about my commitment to Sparkle Motion. I mean, the Peace Corps. The upside is: it turns out that I have an amazing number of family and friends who are loving and supportive and I would be nowhere without them. Anyway. After spending 4 days inside my room crying, I then spent 4 days exclusively with friends, and it is amazing what a difference not being alone makes in a mood. Things are a lot brighter now.

Well. Two nights ago it was raining something fierce. I was watching the waterfall on the steps in front of the house and thinking, “Hmm. I hope it doesn’t flood!” I pre-emptively put a towel at the base of the door, took a few dramatic photos and returned to the e-mail I was writing. I clicked send and looked behind me, and water is pouring into my room. Balls! I snatch up my pile of maybe-dirty clothes (or can I get another day out of them?) and (ever so smartly) snagged my voltage regulator out of the growing lake (no electrocution, lucky me, and it still works!).

So. House flood number two. My room filled with a good two inches of water (it is, as I mentioned last flood, about an inch and a half lower than the rest of the house). Sigh. The worst of the deluge stopped, and the water outside the house receded to not-entering-house status. Time to start bailing! Also, the water smelled really bad. Like feces. I’m sure there was some percentage of poo in that pool. Especially since I watched a two-year-old attempt to drop a deuce in my yard last week. (I didn’t really follow up).

Bail, bail, bail. Tin cup and 5 gallon bucket. How many buckets to bail out my room? 18. I estimate somewhere around 70 gallons of water. Then on to squeegeeing out Lake Living Room, without re-inundating The Great Bedroom Depression. Two hours later, je suis fini! (This is a French joke. The proper grammar is j’ai fini, or, I finished. Je suis fini translates closer to, I am finished/dead. I was. Also I hurt my lower back with all the bailing even though I thought I was using good body mechanics. I’m still walking around like I’m 100).

Also, I was just getting ready to eat when the flood came. So. It was two hungry hours of bailing. But afterwards I made a little tuna-salad with fresh cucumbers and it was all the protein-y deliciousness I wanted. Well, kind of. Tuna cans are kind of small. I also had some oatmeal, because hot and yum, and it was still raining and cold. In case you were curious.

While the flood was frustrating, it was comforting in that it wasn’t my worst day this week. And I think that revelation was indicative of my mood brightening, even in muddy-floody circumstances.

Also, as of today, the landlord has dug a bunch of trenches and erected a barrier, so this should NEVER HAPPEN AGAIN. (Hear that, universe?)

So. Onto something more exciting and productive.

Sunday! I had plans to meet with Maturin (my formerly flaky, but now kind of on-top-of-his-shizz counterpart). He had a meeting in Baham, something to do with his real job, and youth. That was about all I knew. Up early, waiting, waiting. He was only half an hour late on Sunday! Once we got to Baham, we did some more waiting.

The meeting. It was a group composed of delegates from a number of women’s and youth groups in the Bamendjou-Baham area. Maturin conducts bi-monthly (in the every two months sense) meetings to help them with action plans, consult on problems, etc. It was actually pretty cool to see him in that role. He really played up treating everyone as equals, and tried to get the youth to ask each other for advice instead of him. They are also planning a big festival in July, partly celebrating the 59th anniversary of Cameroon’s independence, partly something about what Youth have to say about AIDS, and partly competitions in arts, dance, sport, etc.

Well, this is about 3 hours deep into the meeting, and I’ve been spending the last hour daydreaming about starting a girls group (honestly, after a few hours, my French comprehension is out the window and it’s pretty hard to focus, especially on something that doesn’t actually concern me). The topic of the sport aspect of the festival comes up. People start talking teams, how they’ll be divided, how many games to have. After a while, we elucidate that it is in fact football (soccer) that we are discussing (what else, right?). I’m madly curious inside my brain if these will be co-ed teams. I’m contemplating asking, when one of the women does ask. “And what about the girls?”

“Oh,” Maturin explains, “For the girls, there will be athletisme. Two races of 100m and 40 m. Each town (of 4) will have one girl for each distance.” Wait, WHAT? Hold up. So each town gets to have a team of 16 guys to play 1 or 2 games of soccer, and then 2 girls to run 2 races which won’t last more than a minute? I ask, “What if the girls prefer to play soccer?”

Guess the reaction. Guess it. C’mon. I’ll even give you options.
a) “Sure, girls can play if they want!”
b) “Well, that’s not something we’d considered, but yeah, let’s talk about it.”
c) Laughter.
d) Punch in the face.

Did you guess C? It’s always C. It felt like a punch in the face though. Maturin laughingly explained that at this level, soccer is for GUYS. Maaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaybe in the future. I felt frustrated. I get it. It’s a cultural thing. Women’s rights here still have a long way to go. It’s hard feeling transported back decades and decades though. It made me even more psyched to start a girls group.

(PS: Remember the girls I played soccer with in Bangangte? They got a team together and they have been traveling and winning games and trophies and even money! Check that out!)

Also, when we paused for lunch, Maturin says, “Okay, now the women will serve us.” And they did. Without pause or question, they cleaned and passed out dishes, served all the food and ate last. I think I was the only person who said, “Thank you,” when I got served my plate. I still get all flustered thinking about this. I’ve also been thinking about how much more difficult it must be here to be homosexual or have a mental illness. Those are things that still aren’t even talked about. Women’s rights have at least got their foot in the door.

(Lunch was fish and macabo in a spicy fish sauce. Yum. Macabo is like a starchier, harder potato. It’s my second favorite tuber here, after actual potatoes.)

The good thing about the meeting was that I met some nice folks. A girl I’d met at the lycee, Christelle, was there and we made plans to get together. I met a woman who is really interested in Agroforestry, who I think already worked with Nura. And I met a lady from Batie, who is a coiffeur (hairdresser) who wants to chill. I would be so happy to work with just women here.

But. After lunch we went to Fovu, the sacred rock site in Baham. It was wicked cool! Giant, giant rocks (volcanic in origin, not quite my beloved granite). They still do sacrifices there. There were tons of smaller rocks covered in salt and palm oil. And some stained with blood (probably chickens). There was a small stream running through that everyone washed their face in (I opted out, feeling exhausted and prone to water-borne illness). The guide told me if I drank the water I would be very fertile and have lots of babies. No thanks! I bet that’s not all I’d get growing in my tummy either.

After Fovu, we went to CFRASH, which is the handicap center in Baham. It is pretty amazing. I have been there once before. There are 17 residents, people with handicaps and orphans. (I realize that the term handicapped is certainly outdated and un-PC, but it’s the term used here, so I defer). They get classes and physical therapy. There is a German volunteer there (Hi Kiki!) who teaches some of the classes. Also, there is a women’s and a men’s atelier (workshop). The women make jewelry and clothes, and the men make raffia-bamboo furniture. They also have a small farm, a porcherie and some chickens.

After the visit, I stayed behind to visit with Kiki and then headed over to Liz’s for some more friend-time. Then Liz and I went back to CFRASH (she visits often and sometimes teaches English there) to hang with the homies. I sat and talked to a girl named Stephanie. She was really sweet, and it was probably the nicest time I have had hanging out and talking with Cameroonians. She told me she couldn’t speak a word of English, and I said she must know at least ONE word, and she said no, no, no. Then she busted out with like 10 English phrases. Smarty-pants.

Liz and I went out for dinner, I got a spaghetti omelette and she got spaghetti and beans. Yum. Then we made some Kalimotxo, or what I call Classy Juice, which is half carton-wine and half Coke. Yum-ish.

Still working on getting my house cleaned up and in order after last week and the flood. I have a meeting with a farmer on Wednesday with Maturin. So. Things go!

I'm just going to say that for the record, Staircase Falls in Yosemite is way prettier than Staircase Falls in my front yard, Cameroon.

I decided to put in a luxurious water-carpet. It's the latest in hybrid water-bed/carpet technology. My bedroom. Mid-flood.

Bailing tools. Bucket 3 of 18.

Giant flat look-out rock. Half the girls did all their scrambling in heels. Color me amazed, encore.

Immense rocks. Zara is happy.

Big cave, full of salt and palm-oil covered rocks. Don't fall on them!

It was really cool to see how excited everyone was to visit Fovu. I'm guessing field trips aren't a real big thing in Cameroon. Interacting with nature usually means farming or clearing land. And I'm not even sure people get to see sacred sites like Fovu very often. It was nice, and not just for me.

Pumpkin guts? No. Palm oil. I'd never seen it look like that before, but I guess that is probably its' oxidized state.

Walking past the edge of Fovu on the way to CFRASH. It was really one of those beautiful days that puts me in awe of just how beautiful is Cameroon.

Here is my new friend Adeline. Maybe she will braid my hair one day!

Some of the amazing handcrafted bamboo furniture at CFRASH.

Gratuitous. I have the cutest nephew! Miss him!