Édéa, je t’aime. Douala, you’re okay too I guess.

It has only been ten days since my last post but the other volunteers and I more so fell back into our placements rather than returned to them. The ten days have passed by really quickly. When we got back from Yaoundé I helped Evelyn move into Fred’s old house in downtown and later on I went over to her place with a bottle of wine. Last Saturday (the 25th of Feb) Evelyn, her boyfriend Adam, his friend Tijan, and I all went to Kribi for the day just to escape to the beach, have some of the best fish in Cameroon, and I also introduced them to Anna’s family (you might know her family better by her kids’ names Didier and Mireille).

Fish Market in Kribi

It’s funny that our way of celebrating being back in Édéa was escaping it to go to Kribi. The truth is that Édéa is a great place to live for me, but in the way of entertainment its potential maxes out at drinking beer by the swimming pool (still not too bad). Evelyn’s boyfriend is an art dealer as a profession and so we went to visit an African art gallery briefly while we were in Kribi as well. Cameroon just keeps surprising me. There are many buildings that are falling apart and dirty, but every once in a while there is a diamond in the rough and the poverty surrounding it just makes it that much more worth cherishing.

Evelyn in front of the Art Gallery

On Sunday after church I stuck with my habit of going over to Fred’s house, but this time I found Evelyn and the others there instead. Honestly, it’s a little weird not having him here. I imagine it’s weird for him too to have went from sun every day and walking on dirt roads past a crowded market on the way to Cam-Eco, to trudging through the snow in Québec city. This has made me think about how life in Canada might feel different for me (at least for a little while) once I come back. I may not be coming back to Canada for another three months, but Canada is kind of coming to me for the first week of April because my parents and Roland are coming to visit! I am so excited to see them all again, to show them around my home here, to introduce them to the people that I talk about on a regular basis, and hopefully impress them a little with how my french has improved (although it’s still far from perfect). Roland told me just last week that he’s decided to come. He booked his flight on the same day that he told me, and he has even already gotten his shots. My parents have also booked their flights and started planning the trip, but right now they are taking a little break from all that in Costa Rica. I hope they won’t have had enough sun by the time they get here to Cameroon.

Me, Adam, & Evelyn washing vegetables in preparation for grinding them

On Sunday when I went to Fred’s Evelyn’s place, they already had omelettes and coffee made because Evelyn’s boyfriend Adam loves to cook. After breakfast we all went to the market and picked up some fish for dinner. Evelyn and I wanted to learn how to make a sauce literally called “Green Condiment” (although it sounds much sexier in French; condiment vert), which we had had in Kribi the day before. We picked up the vegetables that Adam said we needed for it, and then I am proud to say I was able to show them where to have vegetables and spices grinded in the market. This is a unique experience in itself because I have never needed to go and get vegetables grinded in Canada. Come to think of it, I have never actually seen a service there for that. I would assume people in Canada would just use their blenders. They do have blenders for sale here but I’m assuming they are a little expensive for the average person or people just prefer to use the larger grinders in the market so they can process more. When we got back from the market Evelyn and Tijan christened the house with it’s first clean since she moved in, and Adam and I worked on preparing dinner. He taught me how to properly make plantain and even made me feel okay about pulling the guts out of the raw fish to get it ready to cook. After eating Evelyn and I went to go and meet our friend Peirette. Fred had introduced me to her and then to Evelyn when she arrived. We stopped at Peirette’s house in the late afternoon, she did my hair in two braids and then we went out to go and get a beer across the street from her neighborhood. It was a good time. I don’t really have much to write about it, but here have some photos:

Adam and I cooking in Evelyn’s kitchen
Peirette, Evelyn, and I

This post is a little crowded with pictures, and I would apologize but I don’t think you are too heart broken about it. Something else I can mention is that last week I went to the market with Blondine for the first time in a long time, as it’s my habit now to just get what I need when I need it. But I missed going with Blondine. I like spending time with her and going to the market together made me feel a little closer to her again. We even went to go and get lunch afterwards. We didn’t just go to the market to bond and so I could show her that I can actually navigate it now, though. We had a purpose. On Wednesday it is International Women’s day and my neighbor Sophie had pointed out to me that I should have some pagne to wear for the day. It’s for this reason that I asked Blondine where I could buy it, and she gladly offered to take me to the market and show me.  I have started to wear the pagne around the house because it is just so comfortable.

View of Central Market from Grinding Shack in Édéa

I also wear really long socks around the house now to protect my ankles from the mosquitos as was recommended by a few of my “moms” here. Basically any woman that I see here on a regular basis becomes one of my moms. Because they see me so often I guess they feel a responsibility to take care of me by telling me to protect my ankles from mosquitos, giving me food if the opportunity arises, or just by saying hi every morning and asking if I slept well. It’s a good way to start the day. As I sit here writing this I feel like I look about as Cameroonian as I can get for a white person typing on a macbook; the pagne/long socks combo is something I definitely should show in one of my other posts and when I do you will see what I mean.

This past weekend I went to my first funeral in Cameroun with Blondine. Blondine’s family is from Douala so I braved the trip to my least favourite city in Cameroon to go to the funeral with her. If it was for anyone but Blondine I’m not sure I would’ve been so willing to go. She was really grateful that I came with her but it turned out to be an interesting experience for me as well. People generally express themselves a little more at African funerals than those in North America.

Denise (the seamstress/Blondine’s friend), me, and Blondine. That necklace I’m wearing is made from pagne and Denise gave it to me as a “nice to meet you” gift.

Blondine introduced me to a friend of her’s from university before we went to the funeral. She had told me before that her friend is a seamstress, and if I wanted some clothes made with pagne I should have a couple pictures ready to show her. I had been meaning to have some clothes made in pagne for a while now, so I came prepared to put in my order for a shirt for Roland and two dresses for me. They should be ready by the end of March! I hope that by that time I will have the website migrated, these African garments sewn, and my family and boyfriend in Cameroon. The first week of April is going to be a good one. However, I hope I am not just fooling myself (sorry, I had to. Get it? Because that’s when April fools is going to be as well).

The normal mode of transportation from city to city here is via a big crowded van, and on our way back from Douala all of us roughly 18 passengers piled in. It was going pretty well, and then we got a flat tire in the middle of nowhere. Actually,

Us having a better time than anyone else in the photo

the flat tire wasn’t exactly a catastrophe for me. Like I said in one of my previous posts; having a phone stolen, and other tragedies happen in the span of two weeks has made it pretty difficult to phase me here. Basically the way we dealt with it was Blondine and I took selfies on the side of the road and then sent them to our very supportive boyfriends. After not too long the driver succeeded in changing the van’s tire, but I just feel lucky he had a spare. The rest of the weekend was spent napping, watching a movie with Blondine, and babysitting the neighbors’ kids. I think that if anything can still drive me crazy here it is probably the loud kids that run around touching all my stuff. But when it comes down to it, I think it would make me crazier if they never came by.


Now here’s a picture of the busted tire:


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4 thoughts on “Édéa, je t’aime. Douala, you’re okay too I guess.

  1. R says:

    Wow erin, sounds like a busy 10 days! They say that if you get the chance you should go t any international funeral or wedding so although it’s a sad event I’m sure you saw so much of adifferance there. Also fish guts – my sympathies Erin. Those are gross but the fish probably tasted way better and fresher for it right ? I hope you have a great trip with the fam jam and Roland – I can’t wait to see the pictures 🙂


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