Sunday, January 4, 2009

first week: hotel in yaounde

Thursday, June 12, 2008

So, I'm finally here. Yaoundé, Cameroon is my first experience of Africa, and so far I'm pleased. We've stayed at a hotel (Hotel Jouvence 2000) here in the city, but this afternoon we are driving to the training site, to move in with our homestay families. I'm nervous about the meeting the family.

I'll live with my host family for ten weeks, during training in Bangante. Then we all move to our individual posts, which we will chose/be assigned to in the following weeks.

One afternoon we left the hotel in small groups to explore the city some. It's easy to become disoriented because the streets are not straight and there are no road signs, but we we're able to make a large loop. Since it was Sunday, the businesses were closed. There were still some street vendors selling mangoes, peanuts, bananas, western clothes, and electronics. I was worried we'd be approached too much, but most people let us be. Some people made sales attempts, but mostly we had a nice walk. There is flora aplenty, but not as many stray animals as I expected. There are many wild lizards.

Except the time we ate at the country directors, all our meals have been at the hotel. They make nice salads, but we've yet to have a green salad. They have been carrot or avocado based. They put sliced fresh onion on most things as a flavoring garnish. Our meals begin with the small salad. The main dish is a small potion of protein (fish, chicken, or beef ), a carbohydrate, and a veggie or fruit. Veggies might be carrots or bell peppers. Carbs might be pasta, but most often fluffy rice in huge portions. The people here seem to greatly dislike the starving Africa stereotype, so they will try to keep you well fed.

They have a few native beers. Beaufort, Trente-trois, Castel, and Guinness are available. They also sell sachets: little plastic bags of whiskey. I have not tried the whiskey.

Health-wise, the past two days have been a downward progression. Many of us have fallen prey to digestive illness. I have a very mild case, and I am not really bothered by it. I think we will have a more difficult time when we eat with the host families. I was not adjusting to the time change appropriately, so I have not been getting very much sleep: three to four hours a day since we got here. Since I've been sick, I've felt extremely fatigued, and was able to get more rest.

Our hotel has running water and heaters, though they give out sometime everyday it seems. We have a bucket in the bathroom full of water to flush when the water is cut off. It takes the whole bucket to flush, and then you hope the water comes on. We also have electricity, on a 240 current. We have some critter friends, even though the sign posted in the elevator says they fumigated last week. We have an air conditioner in the rooms, and some rooms have mini fridges (not mine).

The tap water is unsafe to drink untreated, but fine to bathe in. We have been drinking and brushing our teeth with bottled water, until we move to our homestays. There we will have to filter our water.

The people: There are 38 trainees. It is hard to consider who will be Firstly, because no one seems to be hesitant. Secondly, because we have gotten to know each other well in this week we've been together and don't want to lose anyone.

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