Monday, January 19, 2009

In Yaounde after Christmas

We spent a lot of the last week we were there hanging out in Yaounde. Over the fence of the guesthouse we stayed in, Ed could watch soccer, or more properly football games.
It was just a short walk from our guesthouse through the neighborhood to Paul and Christy's. This container and rusted out car propped up on its side were landmarks of the road we turned down to get to their house. :)
Christy's house is full of wildlife besides her children. Their rabbits had a litter of babies just before we got there, that appeared our last few days there. The rabbits have free reign of the yard and breed, well, like rabbits! Nothing gets the kids more excited than chasing "baby bunnies"around!
The also have an African Gray parrot named "Hola" who loves to petted on the back of his head, and is starting to be a good talker.
Ed took pictures of other wildlife in the yard - a flock of tiny sparrows
a centipide....Uncle Greg!!When we weren't preparing mounds of food at home, we went out to various restaurants around Yaounde - this one had a room in back for the kids to play while waiting for food.Driving around Yaounde - past the HiltonNear some of the crazy 1960s architecture Ministry buildingsWe visited the artisan's market, the central market, and checked up on our reservations to go home... :)

Paul also took us to the site where he's building the new high school, Rain Forest International School. The basketball court site (a huge reservoir will be built under it)....The science building going up fast...The jungle over the back fenceMy Dad decided that the sons-in-law new to Cameroon needed to make a trip down to the valley where he once had a dam and fish pond project.My Dad and the pondThe intrepid sons-in-law with their machetes (being followed by some curious kids!)Kids collecting water to take home for their families - even the little ones help out!I don't really have the best picture to close with - maybe a picture of a plane landing at the airport. It was awesome to have two weeks in Cameroon to show Ed around, to spend time with my sisters, for our husbands to get to know each other, and to hang out with my niece and nephew.

Bye till 2009!

Christmas in Cameroon - Bamenda trip

After Christmas, my parents, and Ed and I traveled up to Bamenda, in the grasslands and mountains of northwest Cameroon, to show him a different side of Cameroon, not just the forest. Bamenda is the fifth largest city in Cameroon, in a valley surrounded by hills. In rainy season, it's beautiful, with everything green and waterfalls cascading off the hills. In dry season, the bowl Bamenda sits in can be filled with harmattan, dust storms that sweep down from the Sahara, and it becomes a dusty little town.
There were some sights that reminded us of home - who would have thought?One of my main goals in going to Bamenda was to meet up with my friend Jennette. We've been friends since 1996, when I worked with a Baptist network of clinics in this part of Cameroon. When I met her, she was fairly newly widowed, with a young son. She found a girl in a village whose parents had died, who was essentially serving as a slave for her uncle and aunt. She managed to get them to give her the girl, and started sending her to school. I thought this was cool, and since then, we've been sending our children to the best school we could, and they have stayed at the top of their classes. The girl, Cidone, is now 22 and works in a mission hospital and plans to go to nursing school. The boy Valery, is 16 and studying hard - they're great kids!! Jen is now remarried, and she and her husband just finished Bible school.We met up with them at a little restaurant and had Christmas presents for everyone, but as usual, Jen out-generoused me! She had beautiful matching outfits made for Ed and I.

A picture of all of us - thank goodness for automatic timers!
And one of just me, Ed, and Jen!
While in Bamenda, we stayed at the SIL guesthouse, on a hill overlooking the back of Bamenda - despite the dust in the air, rather pretty!
We drove up to Mbingo, about 45 minutes from Bamenda and site of a terrific Baptist mission hospital and some gorgeous scenery - great for hikes! The landscape is much different from southern Cameroon.
We went on a short hike, just to give Ed a taste.
Spectacular purple-blue flowers dot the hillsides
Ed and I in front of the huge hill behind the hospital, known as Mbingo Hill.Me and my Daddy!As sunset approaches, you can see how much dust is in the air. In the harmattan, sunset looks almost like fog!And no visit to Bamenda would be complete without a visit to Sister Rose's for grilled fish, plantain, and njama njama (greens!) - yum!!

Road tripping in Cameroon

We did our fair share of road tripping around Cameroon, to Kribi before Christmas and to Bamenda (in thr mountains of the northwest) after Christmas. Thought we'd share some pictures of what you might see from the car on the way.
Plenty of tiny houses, surrounded by their small farms and forest

Bus loaded down with people and their cargo, coming around a corner out of the forest

Speaking of loaded down, poor little car!

People place their produce along the road in piles to sell - wonderful, sweet, cheap, pineapples!

Bunches o' plantains and bananas, so much better than what you get in the US because it ripens on the tree - my Dad was dispatched to get a hand of bananas for car snacks.
On almost any trip in Cameroon, you cross the mighty Sanaga River at some point. An old Tarzan movie was shot along the Sanaga.
Even along the road, there are some beautiful sites if you know where to look - these spectacular waterfalls are right by the road.almost as far down toward the falls as we could get - where the spray itself is a wind and you can't stand for long without getting wet!The rainbow formed by the spray arches across the pool belowOr you might run into some car trouble and have a chance to change a flatTowns along the way give an opportunity to find food, do some shopping (last chance to pick up French bread before we get to English Cameroon!).....
or find a spot to go to the bathroom (I'm not kidding!!)No Santa!! (there's a town called Santa, and the red bar across the name indicates that you're leaving)We stopped in the town of Bafia to see a childhood friend of mine - his mom worked for my parents when we lived in the village of Yoko, and she would bring all of her kids over while she worked. Jean Marie is the same age I am and we grew up playing together.He's now doing water project maintenance for the Catholic church in Bafia, with his beautiful family. The baby is named after her grandmother.

Christmas in Cameroon - Christmas in Yaounde

Laura and Greg arrived on Christmas Eve, in time to bring stocking stuffers. :) In the afternoon, we had a little Christmas party for Gladys, the woman who has been the "househelp" for my parents for the last 10 years, and her kids, Thierry and Rhonda, who is named after my Mom. Look at that grin on Rhonda!! What a cutie! Thierry is very psyched about his new sooccer ball, with his name already on it.
Gladys, Rhonda, and Thierry in front of the Christmas tree. We started out our family Christmas Eve with time to read the Christmas story, with Jessica's help. Then we lit the Advent wreath, again with Jessica's help. Casey lives to blow out candles, and it takes a lot of convincing for him to allow them to stay lit! We did a Christmas craft - making sheep out of marshmallows and stick pretzels - here's our collection of marshmallow sheep! And plenty of food! I think we were trying to finish it for the next week, and the dog ended up getting a lot of treats! The Christmas tree - between the stuff Paul and Christy had been buying from sales of other missionary families, and what aunts and uncles brought, the base of the tree was drowning in presents!! The requisite pictures in front of the tree - first, Grandma and Grandpa.Ed and Julie
Paul, Christy, Jessica, and Casey
Laura and Greg
And the whole family! It was so special to be all together, and to get a taste of what Christmases together may be like in the future. Though we're definitely all human, my family is such an incredible blessing! (If you guessed, this was taken at the end of the day, and Casey was out cold!) I got to play Santa - with all the presents under the tree, Santa had a lot of work! My parents discovering some DVDs Ed and I brought for them. Paul with a new Cameroonian shirt big enough for him!
Casey opening yet another box of toy trains - it actually took Casey the rest of the week to finish opening his presents. Every time he opened a present, he would run back to his room with it to play with it!Christy and my Dad showing off their new trowelsJessica happily unearthing the contents of her stockingA crown for Princess Jessicaand a matching Cinderella dress! Laura and Greg clowning around with the dollar bill chocolate bars