Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Another Goodbye Party

The weekend before Chris left, our friends Ann & Ray hosted a farewell gathering involving our friends in the SIL community. Everyone gathered for a few hours at their lovely home (the very same one where we lived while they were on furough in the US) to enjoy refreshments and each other's company.

The snack table was popular.

Dan and Sun. Later in the evening, Dan played his guitar
and sang a Bob Dylan song (Forever Young) for us.

Us with Philip. Check out our matching African outfits!
That's how we do in Cameroon...

Mary, Alison, and Ann on the couch

Ronald takes a turn at the keyboard.

Julia and Mandi

Daryl, Chris, and Paul

We have met some truly fine people in this community, and it was a joy to have them all together in one place for an evening. Thanks, Ann and Ray and family! Special thanks to Ray for taking all these photos so we didn't have to.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Two More Months

For almost a year now, we've been in this together. This whole Africa experiment, living somewhere else for a while and seeing what it teaches us. Working, traveling, adjusting, reading, meeting some amazing people, getting to know another part of the world a little bit.

Last night, Chris and I said goodbye at the Yaounde airport, and I watched him step up the long staircase to the boarding area. The next time we'll see each other is December 4, when I will arrive at the San Francisco airport.
I'm still here in Africa, by myself this time. I've decided to stay for a couple more months, because I can, and the groundwork is already laid, and because I don't feel like Cameroon is finished with me yet. Chris has been so supportive of my choice to stay here, even when I have been disagreeable, and even when I didn't get my visa until about 30 hours before departure time. So for a while, we'll be living the adventures of life in different places, sharing the best we can over Skype and e-mail, looking forward to coming together again at the end of this time apart. I'll try to be a more faithful post-er here, since Chris is no longer here to do the lion's share of the blogging.

Really, I'm excited for both of us. He gets to be back in the best city ever (at least that we know of), re-connecting with friends, enjoying Mexican food, going to our wonderful church, doing theater, feeling the San Francisco chill in the air, and looking for work. I get to be here in Cameroon, continuing to enjoy some of the relationships we've formed here, exploring others more deeply, working with a great NGO, watching baby Grace grow a bit older, being warm, eating wonderful food, and dancing to the music. I think we'll have a good time. But it sure will be great to see each other again.

The sun is shining in Yaounde this afternoon...should've done some laundry!

Monday, September 15, 2008

RELUFA farewell party

Our friends and colleagues from our past year of volunteer work threw us a farewell party last night. The Boyds hosted at their house, which is also the house where we spent our first three months here in Cameroon, while they were on furlough in the US. Nice things were said to us. We received some thoughtful gifts. There was a ping-pong table. It was a thoroughly pleasant evening full of friends, food, drink and music, and a lovely farewell to a place we have worked, made friends, and learned a lot.

Here are a few pictures.

Val and Terri's son Iman, with his uncle Romeo.

Ann, our friend Thierry who we invited along with us, and me. Thierry is a friend of a friend in the US, so it was fun to introduce him to our work crowd.

Ann, Thierry, and Christiana, a Brit who recently finished her master's in London and is interning at RELUFA.

Annelies, who works for RELUFA member organization CED, and her boyfriend Mikel. Annelies is doing communications work for CED, so we've had some good discussions with her related to work on the RELUFA website. She loves living here, and we've had some good times hanging out, although we only met her recently.

Sorry, Gilles. I had to put this up. Gilles is enjoying a brochette de boef. I intend to learn to make them when I get back. Small pieces of tender seasoned beef, onion and peppers, like satay-sized kebabs. Here you dip them in powdered pimantes, or hot peppers.

Naomi and Salome, the Boyd girls. It has been a pretty entertaining year getting to know the Boyd family, and they have welcomed us into their home and even brought us on vacation. The girls' brother, Matthias, wasn't at the party, because he left a couple of weeks ago for an internship in the US. We owe Matthias a huge thank-you for hand-carrying some paperwork to the US for us and mailing it from the airport.

Axel plays ping-pong...

... against Valery, RELUFA's coordinator.


Christiana and Ann.

I take a turn at the table. In my fine African shirt, no less.

Got one of Val and Terri dancing.

Thanks for a fine party, if you were there and reading this. The hospitality our friends and coworkers have shown us here over the past year has been humbling, helpful, and something we won't forget.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

brunch with Nancy and Gretchen

We had Nancy and Gretchen over for brunch this morning, on their way out of town back to the village. I learned, finally, how to make a proper omelet thanks to them, so I made some today, and Ann made cardamom biscuits.

We showed them the blog post that Ann wrote about our stay in their village, and talked about our plans for the future.

They're headed to the Bay Area in the spring to visit Gretchen's mom, so we hope to see them next year back home. They should be home in the village right about now, as I write. Here they are with Ann in front of their truck (Nancy is on the left, Gretchen on the right):

They told us they found a tiny frog in their truck on the way down to Yaounde. They got a few pictures of the little guy before releasing him.

It's rainy season here again. I sat awhile this afternoon and just watched the rain from our third-floor back balcony. I took a few pictures last night from there, around sunset.

The secret to a good omelet, by the way, is to get a couple of tablespoons of oil smoking hot in the pan before pouring in the eggs. Then you get the texture.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

So who are all you people, anyway?

The little map at right shows where our readers are. If you read this blog, even once, a little dot shows up on that map in your part of the world. I saw this elsewhere, and thought it was neat, so I put one here.

Now we're wondering who all you people are. We have friends from San Francisco, especially from our church, who are now all over the world, but I'm not sure it's that many. Especially in South America. Neither of us even speak Spanish or Portuguese.

So if you don't know us personally, and you read this blog, and you feel like it, please leave a little comment with a note about yourself. You can click on the "comment" link below. But if you prefer to continue reading in secrecy instead, that's fine with us. We just wanted to get you know you a little.

If you do know us personally, but feel like leaving a note anyway, just to say hi, feel free.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Kribi farewell

Our friends and neighbors Alison and Jordan (her son) invited us along to Kribi last weekend. Jordan's heading for university in London to study photography. He leaves Cameroon tonight, so Kribi was his sendoff. We had a fine time hanging out, sleeping late, eating seafood, and spending the day at the beach. Here are a few pictures.

Ann got this out the window of the car when we pulled into Kribi Friday night.


The beach in front of our hotel.

On a beach walk.

Alison and Jordan.

Saint Ann.

The hotel, looking back from the edge of the beach.


After sunset. They didn't have rooms, so they put us in a two-room suite with a veranda, where I shot this, looking towards the ocean.

Our chef, who said his name was Adolphe Mesmer. He has worked all over, including the Hotel Xaviera, which is just up the road from our apartment in Yaounde.

Ann, Alison and Jordan.


Rain on the ocean on Sunday.

We're riding along to the airport with Alison tonight to bring Jordan, so we'll get to see them both one more time, probably over fries and a 33 beer at the airport restaurant.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

odds and ends from Tropicana

We're planning on remaining in Yaounde until our departure from Cameroon at the end of the month. Here are a few pictures I shot today, around the house and our quartier of Mvan-Tropicana.

The Xaviera Hotel, shot from our balcony. Line of sight means line of sound as well, and the Xaviera is frequently rented out for all-night wedding celebrations with what, I suspect, are outdoor amplifiers as tall as me, with tweeters like dinner plates and woofers like truck wheels. It sounds like the party is in the back yard, not across the valley. The Kapteyn house, where we lived for seven months, lies in between this place and our own, so we heard it there too. Their house is lower and closer, but on the other hand is better-protected by brush and solid windows rather than louvers, so the noise level is probably about the same. Happily, like the el train in the Blues Brothers film, the parties happen so often you cease to notice them.

Living room. The cup of coffee and novel were my long morning. The CD is something in the Yemba language that Gretchen and Nancy gave us. I am mystified about the pillow in the background -- it looks like the Hand of Fatima on there, a Muslim symbol, but we inherited the pillow from Karen, who doesn't seem likely to own one. Have to ask her.

Three essentials of our life here -- antibiotics for a minor but persistent inconvenience, insect repellent (especially necessary because we take no antimalarial medicine, preferring to treat it if it comes), and a laptop. This bug repellent (thoughtfully sent to us with many other fine things in a Christmas package from the US by Brian, Kate and Dave) is hardcore; we wear it regularly, and did at the Kapteyns' house too when we lived there. We took our cues from them before they left, and so got in the habit of putting our legs up on the coffee table there to watch TV. The bug goop on our legs actually ate through the finish on the table, over time, leaving chemical burn marks of bare wood. I've started sticking a pillow under my legs now, in our new place, when I prop them up. Some guy named Larry owns most of the furniture, and will come back to it after we leave. He is reputedly a stickler, too.

Missionaries drive trucks. Some of the teachers drive cars instead, but a truck has the advantage of being able to leave town and to go deeper into the neighborhoods, because it can handle rougher road conditions.

The front gate of Cabtal, where we live. The tower over the gate is the office building, and the diagonal stairways behind it belong to our apartment building. The guardhouse at left is always manned.

The apartment complex next to ours, called New Land, is also full of SIL ex-pats. I went over there to get a picture of a monkey and a parrot who live in separate cages under a stairwell. But they seem to have moved. So here's a flower instead.

The gate of CTC, the complex that houses SIL offices and Rain Forest school. I'm in here at the moment, writing this.

Entering CTC, I heard a plane in the sky, and grabbed a zoom shot. This is SIL's plane, so this could be our friend Ray up there. If not, it's either Dennis or Daryl, the two other SIL pilots. Funny to see a plane and be fairly sure who's flying it. The only other small aircraft around are military, usually a green helicopter. We hear large aircraft noise at night, sometimes, too, but don't see any during the day.

With the advent of rainy season, the skies are spectacular again. This doesn't come through all that well in a 400-pixel image, but I thought it might be worth a try anyway.

And another.

Part of the CTC campus. Everything grows here, often with wild abandon, so you can trim a tree by simply hacking all the branches short, and sure enough, they sprout green again pretty quickly. I'm currently sitting in a hot sun on the left-hand side of this porch, where there's a network connection, blogging and shooing the occasional mosquito in spite of repellent.

Fooling around with the camera and laptop screen.

Me on the porch just now.

I'm off back home now, to get some work done on the new RELUFA website (coming soon!), and dinner with Ann and our friend Christy W at her favorite restaurant. We're sorry to see Christy go, to teach in another part of Cameroon for awhile, but hope to see her in Michigan one of these Christmases, since her parents live 30 miles from ours. Meanwhile, planning continues for departure and Europe, with San Francisco just over the horizon in October.