Friday, August 20, 2010

Greetings from Bandjoun

I don't have much to report yet, but I arrived at my house last night after a long day of travelling. All I managed to do was call my postmate, then laid down for a second and woke up suddenly this morning at 6:30! I went outside, and literally the first bird I saw today was the Fire-crowned Bishop here on the left! A very nice welcome.

I also saw a Black Widowbird, long tail streaming behind, a Baglafecht Weaver, and two Blue-shouldered Robin Chats (a lifebird for me!) The downside, no signal in the house. The upside, I got signal at the top of the hill (where I sat hunched over my laptop on a stool, and watched birds go by). Sadly, this averaged about 10 kbps. So I am very happy to report that this evening, signal strength is back to normal and I have 3 bars and 100 kbps.

Today, I met with my postmate and explored Bandjoun a bit. Then in the afternoon, I met a PCV the next town over and we shopped for a few things in nearby Bafoussam. We also managed to get money out of the bank, though it took I think 3 hours due to technical difficulties. No worries... they were understaffed and had computer problems. C'est la vie.

Lindsey did manage to buy a bed, so her community host called a driver to pick us up. Then on the way out of town, people started opening the doors and trying to get in the car. First he let one, then another in. Finally, he pulled Lindsey's mattress out of the trunk to let in 3 more! We ended up with 11 people in this tiny Toyota hatchback. On top of that, he even took us off road for some unknown reason, and negotiated some harrowing bumps and puddles. Then we got to Bandjoun and he actually looked disappointed that I was "only" paying the actual fare we had agreed. Wow. I mean, we had hired the whole car, and he let in 7 more people and almost rolled the car over with Lindsey's bed on top. And it's a non-tipping culture :-)

After all that, I still need to buy a gas canister for the stove and a blanket. We tried for hours to find a gas canister, and it appears that not only has the price recently gone up, but half the joints will not "consigne" you a cannister at all - you have to bring in an empty one. Those who did have them said there was a shortage of canisters (in spite of having huge piles of them sitting there - wtf) and they wanted 30-35,000 CFA (or $60-70 US). That's kinda out of my budget at the moment, especially when all I want to cook are eggs... and an omelette is only 150 CFA if someone else makes it. So there!

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