First things first, happy new years everyone!
When I came here to Cameroon I knew I would be trying many new things and I assumed I would love some of them and just hate others. When I first came here I was in the honeymoon stage, so I just loved everything new that I tried. I remember saying more than once “This is the best [insert Cameroonian food] I’ve ever had”. One of those experiences was when I was with Ginette and we had bought fish from a street vendor and it came with onions and was cooked perfectly, and it had some sauce on it that I had never tried before. I loved it. That was also I think when I tried the juice “Top” for the first time. Top is pretty much the only significant juice here in Cameroon. It may be almost impossible to find sunscreen here, but I’m not exaggerating when I say you can buy Top at just about every other store as you walk down La Rue des Banques. When I first tried it I really loved it too, but now I am pretty darn sick of it, and it doesn’t help that it comes in a container that’s at least 1.5 L in volume. The beers also come in that size, in case you were wondering. Speaking of which, another thing that I loved about Cameroon when I first came here was just generally how cheap it is to buy alcohol, and how much beer you get in one bottle for the equivalent of about 2 dollars CND. The chicken that Leone and Tatiana made me also was one of the best chickens I’ve ever had. It had so many different spices in it, and was amazing. I also tried viper the other day, and I’ve got to say that I liked it a lot. Probably more than fish, and it was lighter than chicken, so it might be my favourite meat. One more thing, they don’t have a Tim Horton’s here (obviously), but they do have bakeries all over the central market and I really can’t get enough of the small cakes they have here. I guess they could be compared to donuts, but they are really just sweet, fresh baked buns (like, really fresh), with icing sugar on top.
Keep all these things that I find new and special in Cameroon in mind as you read this, but I really just want to crank out a list about everything that I miss about Canada.
- The constant flow of electricity that never just randomly shuts off. Then when it does shut off, having to quickly fill my reservoir of water because the water pump is going to stop working soon, and I don’t want to run out of water because who knows how long the power is going to be shut off for
- Not having to always be careful to not swallow a bone when you eat any tiny sliver of meat
- The fast internet
- The internet not slowing down when you use it too much
- Things generally staying cleaner
- Being able to go grocery shopping once every three weeks instead of twice a week. I have a small fridge here and things are so fresh that they go bad very quickly. The lettuce is really only good for a couple days
- The imported wine
- The chocolate
- The candy in general from bulk barn
- The washing machines. I wash my clothes by rubbing them together roughly and dunking them in soapy water, and then I let them dry for about three days.
- Not being sweaty every single day after getting back from work, but then not wanting to just throw everything in the laundry because doing laundry sucks
- Not having to worry about Malaria
- Being able to just walk up to a dog and pet it because I love dogs. Here, my neighbours think I’m generally just afraid of dogs, but I’m really just terrified of rabies (even if I have all the shots). Did you know that if you don’t have rabies shots, and you get bitten by a rabid animal, you have almost 100% of dying within three days if not treated properly? Yeah. And good luck getting treated properly in Cameroon when there is something like 1 doctor per 600 people. And many of the doctors aren’t trained properly or don’t have the right equipment, or are just flat out corrupt. So I’m pretty scared of dogs here. Marwa if you’re reading this, I understand why you were so afraid of dogs when we lived together and I’m sorry for giving you a hard time about it
- Listening to mindless pop music on the radio. I could technically do that here, but it would use up my phone battery, or my internet etc. And those things cost money. The local dance here is a Bassa dance called Assiko. I recommend you look it up. If you listen to the music they are playing, that is generally what is playing in every car that I go into. They are also very talented dancers and I could never move my hips like that or keep a full bottle of beer on my head while I do so. But they do.
- Having a printer
- Not having to constantly worry about pickpocketers
- Not having to wonder and constantly check if I turned off the gas for my gas stove
- Church services that only go on for an hour
- Being able to understand the songs at the church services (they are sung in Bassa, so after I learn French maybe I can start to learn some of that)
- Spaghetti sauce. They do not have good spaghetti sauce here unless you make your own from scratch, which I am not skilled enough to do yet.
- Coffee. If I do drink coffee here it is probably going to have to be Nescafe, because if not, I’m going to have to buy a coffee press and those are about $50 here (I translated the currency). I miss my coffee pot
- I also miss Tim Horton’s and generally just being able to be lazy and go and grab a coffee before going somewhere.
- Cheese. The only cheese they have here in Edéa is called “La Vache qui Rit”. You might recognize it as “The laughing Cow”. If you have never tried it before, don’t worry about it, you’re not missing out on much.
- Hot sauce. This is just turning into a grocery list. But yes, in Canada I put hot sauce on almost everything and now I can’t put it on my sandwiches made with freshly baked bread (#firstworldproblemsinthethirdworld)
- Store vendors being able to understand me
- An oven
- I miss it being culturally appropriate to wear shorts. I’ve been wearing so many skirts and dresses since coming here because I refuse to wear pants. I would die of heat exhaustion every day.
- Hot showers (They have them as well in Yaoundé, and probably in high-end hotels and homes, but this had to be added to the list). When I get home I am going to take a shower, and then I am going to sit in a hot bath surrounded by candles for an hour.
- The transit system. I will mention later on why I like riding on motorcycles almost every day, but I also miss being able to read on transit.
- The expectation that there should be no lizards in a house. They are kind of cute though, and they eat the bugs as a bonus
- Being able to listen to the 6pm CBC report at 6pm and not the next morning.
- The snow
- Hakka noodles
- Chinese food
The final three items deserve more than just a bullet point each. The things on this list I can deal with pretty easily, but the hardest part about being here is being away from friends, family, and Roland. It’s nice that Roland and I talk on the phone maybe more now than when I was in Canada, but I miss being able to have him over, make dinner with him, and wake up next to him. And I especially miss our lazy days together when we would basically just turn into cats and watch shows, nap, and eat food. I know you’re reading this Roland, and I just want to say thank you for being patient with me to get back so we can have more days like this. Six months isn’t that long anyway.
I don’t know if it was a healthy thing for me to have made this list, or if it just made me miss Canada more but, if anything, I hope it helps you (my friends in the Western world) appreciate the things you have there a little more. You can be sure that I am probably more than a little jealous of you right now. I’ve learned since coming here that when you come to a new country you have to find things that you love about it too (that can’t be found at home), or you’ll go crazy. In my next list I hope to talk about these things a little bit more.