African outfits

African outfits
Our crazy family

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

More of my observations

Some things here in Cameroon are just so different it makes me laugh. Just this morning I made a phone call to the man in charge of a taxi service here in Ndu. We need to arrange a ride to Bamenda next week and I have been trying to get in touch with him but I was getting only a busy signal. This morning I finally got an answer but barely into my call when my phone went dead. I went to plug it in and we had no power, so I figured I would try again later. Meanwhile, Levi and I headed down the hill to go to the health center. As we were walking, a car came down the road we had just past honking his horn and flashing the lights - strange behavior even for Ndu. I stopped to see what it was all about and a man jumped out and greeted me, it was the taxi guy. He had tried calling me back but got a busy signal, the only information I had given him was that I was at CBTS. Wow, what service. I was able to tell him when we needed a ride and he agreed to meet with Drew and I together a few days before we leave to get the details worked out. Nice to have that off my list, especially since we still do not have electricity. Can you imagine in America if your conversation was cut short with a dead battery and moments later the person showed up at your door to finish the conversation?

Levi was tested for malaria this morning and it did come back negative - Yeah! We got some medicine for parasites so hopefully he will be feeling better soon. While waiting for 3 hours between our registration, consultation, lab work, more consultation and then the pharmacy, I had a lot of opportunity to observe the people around me. One thing I have noticed since arriving here is that women seem to embrace their chin hairs and today I noticed several women with actual go-tees growing. Many of the women wear a wrappa around their skirts and this is very useful for waiting - they just throw the outer wrappa on the grass and use it for a blanket (I will have to remember that next time we go to the health center). Another thing I noticed is that "Minnesota Nice" does not work well when you are waiting in Africa - people do not usually take turns but push to get waited on as soon as possible. You really need to stand your ground or you could spend the whole day waiting and never get service. Yesterday I went to the Moneygram place in Ndu to get some money my brother had wired me. There were probably 20 people waiting and when I arrived the security guy ushered me to the front of the line. I wasn't sure what was happening at first but once I realized I felt very awkward. I did not have the right information though and was unable to get my money, therefore I felt very relieved that I had not waited hours to find that out. I'm going back today but plan to wait my turn.

One thing that I will miss that just doesn't happen at home, is the greetings that happen everywhere you go... and it's not just that we are white, everyone greets everyone. It takes longer to get from place to place because people say "Good morning Madame", "Good Afternoon" or the kids shout "Hello, how are you?" (over and over). People shake your hand and sometimes hold their arm when they do this as a sign of respect. As our time is coming to an end we have had numerous invitations to have supper (fufu and jamajama most likely). The Africans we have met have taught me so much about being hospitable and making people feel welcome. As you enter their homes they often say "You are welcome".

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