Wow. I can’t believe I have been here for over a month. I feel like I have adapted quite a bit to living life here in Edéa, but on my off days I still have a hard time understanding the clerks when they tell me a price. My french has also improved significantly but the funny thing is that I can speak pretty well about media and communications (because I do this all the time at my work at Cameroun Écologie), but when it comes to haggling in the market I am still practically a lost cause. At least I can tell them I want the less sugary bread. A part of me thinks that 6 months here just isn’t long enough to completely get comfortable with the language and living life here on a daily basis. I’ve been told that in order to be considered “fluent” in a language, you should probably know about 100,000 words in that language and, although I can’t tell you how many words I know in French exactly, I can tell you it’s over 500 and that I am not “fluent” yet.
You know in one of my last blogs when I mentioned that I really wanted to go to Cecile’s house for dinner some time? Well, I posted that blog on the 30th of December and on Dec 31 she came to my area to say hello to the neighbors and I and she invited Leone and I over for dinner for the next day! I was pretty excited to have this wish fulfilled almost right away and the next evening Leone and I walked over with some food and wine for Cecile and her guests. We spent the evening eating real Cameroonian food and I learned a lot about Cecile’s family and work outside of Cam-Ecol. By the way, this was also my first night trying Viper (it was good, try it if you get the chance). The next day I went back to Cecile’s house because she had offered to give me a tour of it after I mentioned how big and beautiful it was. She showed me each of the rooms, her independent solar grid, and her laundry room. In the laundry room she actually had a washing machine and dryer! I told her that I had been washing my clothes by hand and that I’m getting better at it, but I was really not looking forward to washing my bed sheets. After I said that, she gladly offered to let me use her washer and dryer anytime. A few days later my pride crumbled enough for me to finally decide to take her up on that offer. I lugged over my sheets and a couple other things that I was having a hard time with (mainly white shirts), and I got them back fresh and folded at the end of the weekend. Fred has labeled me the princess of Edéa because I have access to a washing machine and he doesn’t. But he’s really just jealous. I knew Cecile’s family was well off before, but that they have a washer and dryer is what really confirmed it. That, and that she uses an independent solar grid. Her family is one of the first in Edéa (if not Cameroon) to be using this as a primary energy source even if it is cheaper in the long run to produce your own energy.
As the final week of Christmas vacation wore on, I began to get a little bored. I live far away from town and there wasn’t much for me to do but practice French and write. On Friday night I thought about how I had a weekend before work would start again and I decided that I wanted to take advantage of the next couple days if not just to get out of the house and get some exercise. Anyway, I decided to take up Mireille’s offer to come and visit her and her family anytime, and I made the 1-trip to Kribi on Saturday morning so I would have most of the weekend there. When I got to Kribi we went to the beach almost immediately and Didier and I rode in the pirogue again and visited a small island close to the shore. This also meant that I got to see the Chutes de la Lobé up close and personal, and the pano I provided for you doesn’t exactly do it justice.
In the evening Dider, Mireille, some of her friends and I went swimming in the ocean which was extremely refreshing after a week of being cooped up inside for most of the time. Swimming in the ocean there is probably one of my favorite things to do in Cameroon. When we got back Mireille made us all pig legs and pasta and we watched an extremely cheesy french drama. I understood a little over half of it, which made it seem even more ridiculous because I couldn’t take anything that they were saying seriously. Finally I went to get ready for bed and call Roland. It had been a long but good day. On Sunday I went with Anna (the mother of Mireille and Didier) for the first time to her church. She also lent me a dress made of pangne to wear, which I was pretty excited about because it was my first time actually wearing the fabric that I’d been meaning to buy pretty much since arriving in Edéa. Afterwards I met some of Didier’s friends and had a beer with them, and then we went swimming again briefly before I took the bus back to Edéa. I brought back some fish with me for the neighbors because Kribi is known to have the best fish in Cameroon, and Leone is just an amazing cook. The next night she brought me one of the fish that she had cooked in some sort of delicious sauce.
My first week back to work went pretty well. I was happy to see Blondine, Patricia, and especially Frederic again. Fred had been gone for three weeks to visit his girlfriend in France and when he came back I decided I wanted to celebrate with Blondine and him so I invited them over for drinks on Friday night. Also, Patricia invited us all over to her house to have dinner with her on Saturday. Blondine and I went over together and I met her older sister and nieces and nephews as well, who live in the same area as Patricia. Today was a little more quiet. But I did go to church again with the neighbors and to the market afterwards (again) with Tatiana. I was rather proud of myself this time because before Tatiana came over I had already tied my head scarf. I looked up some videos on Youtube for how to do it, but once I realized there was a certain basic pattern to it it was pretty easy to pick up and modify. I just hope I remember how to do this knot again next week, I feel like it was a little bit of a lucky fluke. Or maybe beginner’s luck in tying head scarves.
As you can see, I have settled into a little bit of a routine here. I think it is important that I set a base for a life here before I really try to mix it up. On the other hand, I have found that one of the most important things to remember is that time flies when you’re having fun, and you also end up learning without realizing it when you’re with others that you want to learn from. I hope you are all having equally good experiences in Canada (even if you’re not writing a frequent blog about it), and that you’re still enjoying all those things that I mentioned missing about Canada in my last blog. I am taking life week by week now and I am looking forward to see what the end of next week will look like.