Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Fun-tivities in Foumban

In the West region of Cameroon, November and December are the months of cultural festivals. Cameroon is incredibly culturally diverse, and you only need to look at the local languages to see the extent: some sources (by which I mean Wikipedia) estimate that over 230 languages are spoken here. In my village of Bansoa, people speak a different language than Dschang (20 kilometers north) or Bafoussam (20 kilometers south) or any of the villages in between. Which is to say that in November and December there approximately a million parties. And I had the pleasure of attending Nguon, the Bamoun cultural festival in Foumban, at the beginning of November. Here are some highlights!

1) The Sultan's Palace and museum: This is without a doubt one of my two favorite museums in Cameroon (out of the two I've visited). It's full of treasures like the skulls of our enemies that were subsequently used as goblets and parts of animals killed a really long time ago. The excellent tour guides and/or his excellency Josh Shelton will happily tell you plenty of fun stories, like that of the tenth sultan Mbue-Mbue killing all his enemies to forge his borders in blood and black steal then comparing himself to a two-headed snake. It's a symbol that stuck, as you can see in this concrete structure that will eventually (and I stress evennnntually) house the new museum. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Hiking in Beautiful Bangang

About 2 months ago now, Danielle and I went to go visit Alec at his post. He lives in a health center, in a quartier called Bamboue, in a village called Bangang. Bangang is somewhere way off en brousse, at least by the standards of the West region. Located in the Bamboutos mountains, it's full of waterfalls, a tea plantation, logging areas, odd rocks, and terraced farmlands. Some (like Alec) argue that it is the most beautiful post in Cameroon, and though I'm not sure I would go that far, I will agree that it offers stunning scenery. As an advance apology for the really long post about Foumban and its cultural festival - coming soon to an internet-enabled device near you - I'm going to show you instead of telling you how beautiful it is. Alec took us on a meandering five hour hike, and this is what we saw… 

View of the tea plantation and Bamboutos mountains (I think)

Danielle & Alec, taking a break and enjoying the view

A big white sheep dog resting on a big grey rock

View towards the South (?) - probably can see my post from here!

Stumbling across the creek

View of the waterfall

Then we climbed above the waterfall, involving running
away from very large cows with very large horns.

Enjoyin the sunshine :)

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Definitive Guide to Washing Socks (According to Me.)

Are you struggling to wash your socks? Do you often find that even after washing, your socks appear dingy? If you do not have a washing machine, this may be you! (Then again, if you are a Peace Corps Volunteer, this may not be you, and all of your Cameroonian friends may be clucking their tongues in judgement when you turn your back.)

After extensive observation of Cameroonian women doing laundry followed by a  period of trial and error, after only 14 months of Peace Corps service, I have discovered the perfect sock-washing-system! Simply follow these steps for brilliantly clean socks.