I can say that this weekend is filled with adventure. Friday night we went out to a club. They played mostly western pop songs as well as some African songs. We had such a good time dancing. I went with the new teachers here. We met up with some folks from the embassy and a few of the marines who are stationed here. Many of the people I have met here (from the embassy and at the school) seem to not get out into they city itself and meet with the locals. I’ve heard many conversations about ordering food from the United States and only befriending others from the expatriate community. It seems it is so easy to not mingle with Cameroonians or delve into the culture. I’m excited about getting to know Cameroon and its people. I want to learn about the culture. I don’t want to be here for two years and just barely skim the surface of Africa. There are tons of things to explore and I do not need to transport my American life here to Cameroon.
Well, anyways, at the club some guy starts dancing with a bunch of us. At first he is quiet and doesn’t say much. After a few songs he begins to talk with us. When he is talking, its all in French. I say to him “Je ne parle pas francais.” I don’t speak French. This happens to be the only sentence I know in French. Anways, after saying this in his best English he says, “I love you! Come with me over here” Apparently he was in love and he wanted me to get a drink with him and his friend. I politely said no, but he kept on saying I love you and grabbing my arm!! So I finally escaped by heading to the bathroom. This guy was definitely a bit more aggressive than what I am used to. I thought it was absolutely hilarious that he loved me after only dancing with our group for 10minutes.
On Saturday, another one of the new teacher’s and I decided to take a mini tour of certain areas of the city. We first took a walk in Bastos. Bastos is the community of Yaounde where we live. There are a lot of foreigners in this area. It is very quiet. We had lunch at a rotisserie chicken place (kind of like the “roadkill” they had in Italy mom and dad). So both Amy and I had a half chicken with sauce and plantains. It was excellent, very delicious. I definitely will head back there again. We continued our walk down the main street and stopped into tiny convenient stores, clothing stores, and video stores. I love walking in cities because you can see so much. In your car you miss a lot of these little shops. Well, a little ways down from the chicken place we see posters outside of a hair salon. The poster contained various braided hairstyles. So, we decided to check out the salon. It sits on the lower level of a building so we had to take the stairs downstairs. The two ladies who came to greet us were so friendly! They gave us a tour of the salon and told us their various services. It costs $6 for a pedicures and $3 for a manicure!! They even offer massages and a sauna. I plan on getting my hair braided, which will cost me 5,000CFA. That is only $10!! In the states the style I want would cost me $40. The ladies were very friendly and we decided we definitely will go and give them business. In another post I will talk more about the hairstyles here.
Later that afternoon we decided to become brave and take our chances at the marche central (central market), a gigantic, crowded market in an old multi-story car park. We thought this would be easy, but it turned out to be an intense eye opening experience. So,we drive down to the area and finally find a parking spot. As soon as we get out these guys start talking to use in French and English asking if we are here to buy a cell phone. They ask us to come into their store and we pretty much say we are only here to walk and look around. Walking down the street towards the market, people are yelling at us to come into their stores.
“Come, I have shoes.” “Would you like to buy a cell phone.” “Look at what I’m selling.” I think I pretty much ignored it and kept walking. So, we enter the very outskirts of the central market, when we are pretty much surrounded by five guys who are trying to get us to buy stuff!! “What are you here to buy?’ “Do you want some shoes” “Come look at this” “What do you need.” They kept surrounding us and trying to get us to go to various stores to buy things. We decided to not even enter the market. Instead we did a loop around this outside part and left. It was such an intense experience. I think we were pretty much drained after that. We felt that that was enough and walked back to the car, where the original guys wanted money for watching my car. We drove off, without giving them money. I am not sure if it is custom to give money to store vendors for watching your car.
We decide to drive into another part of the city, the Briqueterie, which is a poor muslim area. We pretty much drove around in this area looking at all the things they are selling. There are a lot of wonderful fabrics for sale in this area and interesting foods. The traffic in this area is bumper to bumper. Taxis and people are everywhere. Oh, I made a wrong comment before, there are rules to driving (although it doesn’t seem as so). On the traffic circle, those cars entering have the right of way. Those already in the traffic circle have to yield to the incoming cars! That’s helpful to know because a taxi driver was yelling at me because I did it wrong. By the way, my car doesn’t have power steering either. That makes for some fun turning.
This small trip gave us a great idea of the layout of the city (well at least part of it). The briqueterie is between the area where we live and the area where the school is located. We know how to get there and to the marche central. It also made me realize that going to the markets here are a totally different experience than any other market I have been to. I think for now on I will go with someone who is from here or very experienced.
I have posted a couple pictures of the city. A few of them are bastos and a few are views from our school, which is located in the Quartier du Lac area.
Tomorrow is my first official day of school. We have several meetings tomorrow. The students come on Thursday. I’m not sure how often I can post especially if I am real busy with work.