>Greetings from Cameroon (Part 2 in a series)

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Beginning of surveying

Our first travels into the Cameroonian bush

Thursday gave us our first opportunity to travel to a village. Here, anything outside of the main city is referred to as the bush. Crammed into a cab that must have been over 20 years old, we made our trek along the dirt road. Travelling along roads here is an experience in itself, and helped me to truly appreciate what we have in the states. Like I said, all roads (apart from a few in the big cities and tourist areas) are dirt, and during the rainy season, it rains at least once a day. So there were many stretches which were mudpits, and cars and trucks would be stuck. In the worst areas, local young men would get in teams of about 8 and help cars through. At the end, the driver would hand them cash as casual as if they were travelling through a toll. Incredible. And there were large trucks that would try to make this trip, and if the rains are too heavy, a gate is closed, and only small passenger vehicles can travel.
I found it interesting in later talks with villagers that the three things they want the most are water, electricity, and roads, in that order. All three we take for granted in the States. We expect water from the tap. They travel one to three kilometer to find a stream and walk back. We think 1 hour without power is an emergency. Their power is regularly shut off in Kumba during the peak hours of 7-9, and in the bush, you only have power with a generator. We find a road deplorable if it has potholes or is rough at 60mph. They have dirt for highways.
After 2 or so more in the cab, we finally arrived at the village, Metoko bakundo. We travelled with about 20 men with machetes up a large hill and traveled over 1.5 kilometers to find the stream, and then continued to climb small rockcliffs to find the source of the stream at a small waterfall with a cavern. We celebrated “confirming” the source with the village men through a ritual and a drink. After that, we began work, surveying some of the toughest terrain I’ve ever worked with. We called it a day, and had a meal with the village leaders. Such a cool experience. After dinner we found a spot playing music and enjoyed ourselves and danced.
The next day we woke early and finished our work. We were amazed at how willing the villagers were willing to help. Before we had even made our way to where we left off the previous day, the men had cleared almost all the brush to prepare our days work. We began to teach them how to hold the rod, and even how to read the instrument. Their involvement from beginning to end was a promising sign that this village was ready for a water system.

I really enjoyed talking with the villagers, both during dinner and during our work. We talked about life in Cameroon and the states, and asked questions about each other.
After having lunch with the village leaders again, we headed back home to Kumba. When we were back, we were hungry, and we found a restaurant to have dinner and a sweet (their name for pop/soda). It was a harsh reminder to me that I was far from home when I realized we couldn’t just call for a pizza.
Saturday we didn’t do much, but spent much of the afternoon cooking. Food here is a long process, as everything you make has to be made from scratch. Fresh vegetables, fresh meat, and fresh fruit. That means the food is incredible, but takes a lot of time. The food here is also incredibly spicey, and it has taken me some time for my tolerance to adjust.
We travel again to the bush tomorrow. Hopefully it will be as successful as our previous trip … For background on Geoff Holmes and his mission – click here.
Foggy morning to the beginning of our second day in Mekoto Bakundo
View of Metoko Bakundo
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  1. #1 by Anonymous on June 6, 2010 - 11:58 pm

    >Very interesting. Thanks for posting.

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