Monday, January 23, 2006

Rhumsiki and the Surrounding Area

The next day, we set off (in a 4WD Toyota with a driver) to Rhumsiki. The drive there was gorgeous. We passed many villages with homes made of mud/clay bricks and roofs made of wood and grass. As we drove, children shouted out Bon Anne (Happy New Year) and Cadeaux (gift). We passed beautiful mountains and amazing scenery. When we arrived to Rhumsiki we were immediately given a tour guide who took us on a tour of the village. The most impressing part of this particular village was the landscape of amazing peaks and mountains. We could even see over into Nigeria. On the tour we saw the crab sorcerer who told Darrell and I our future from the movements of two crabs. We learned how some village ladies make pottery from clay. Also, we went to an area where they weaved cotton.

That evening we celebrated New Year’s Eve at the hotel. We watched dances from traditional dancers, drank good beer, and ate mouton (sheep, I think). We had a fantastic New Year’s Eve celebration.

Pictures of the Far North

Pictures of the North

More Pictures

More pictures

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Maraoua and Mindif

On our first full day in Maroua, we had a nice petite dejuener (breakfast with bread and coffee) from what would become our favorite restaurant in Maraoua, the Artisant Restaurant. After breakfast, we did a lot of bargaining at the artistant market and took a stroll through the central market. The following day we decided to set off on moto taxi for the 25km ride to Mindif. Darrell and I rode one moto taxi with the driver, it took us almost an hour to arrive. Our legs were so cramped afterwards!

The village sits at the base of la dent de Mindif (a mountain said to look like a tooth). Luckily for us, we arrived on market day! We shopped for fabric, greeted the warm and welcoming locals, and saw many interesting foods being sold. On the way back to Maraoua, the moto taxi driver repaired a hole that he had in his front tire. As he repaired the tire, we tried talking with some of elderly men who were sitting down next close by. They were extremely happy when we gave them a taste of our fruit snacks! The men were so thrilled and delighted by the cadeaux (gift).

We had such a wonderful day, we were all smiles when we traveled back to Maraoua. However, our trip back was worse than the trip there because ten minutes after setting off, the tire blew again! And, it blew halfway between Mindif and Maraoua. In the middle of nowhere. So, the driver drove his bike back to Mindif to repair the tire while Darrell and I took off on foot towards Maraoua. It was so, so hot with the sun beating on our necks. Everyone from market day passed us. People carried wood, women carried food on their heads, and even cars passed us as we hiked towards Maraoua. Our driver eventually caught up with us with a repaired tire.

NOt more than five minutes later, a police officer pulled us over. What’s worse is that the driver had no documents for the vehicle or his personal ID card! The police officer wanted Darrell and I to catch a ride back to the city with a man who had stopped along with us while he took the driver and his bike. All of us (the driver, policeofficer, the man with the truck, and Darrell and I) debated the issue. The moto driver eventually had to pay the police officer in order to leave. So, we finally made it back and were very tired.

IN the picture of Darrell and I, I know I totally look awful. But, I thought it was a fun picture of us on the Moto Taxi.


Friday, January 20, 2006

Pictures of Maoura and Mindif

Here we have two pictures of La dent de Mindif (the mountain at which Mindif sits) and some cows we passed on the way to Mindif. All three of these pictures were taken while on the Moto taxi.

Pictures of Maoura and Mindif

Here are some pictures that we took on the way back from Mindif.

1.) This was taken while walking back towards Maroua when the moto taxi got a flat. It was market day in Mindif, so many people rode their bikes to and from Mindif with their goods. In this photo we have a man carrying wood back to Maraoua.

2.) As we walked, we passed a huge field of meal. A food that is found in the northern part of the country.

3.) After such a long day, Darrell and I went to a small store, which sold drinks and food. Together, we finished two liter bottles of soda. We took this picture while we were sitting down. It shows the main road in Maraoua that leads to the central marche.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Trip to Extreme North Province

Our three week Christmas break was much needed! My boyfriend, Darrell, came to spend the break with me. We had such an amazing time together. In hindsight, we were naïve to think that travel within Africa (even with set reservations) would be simple.

After Christmas, Darrell and I set out to the Extreme North Province of Cameroon, which borders Nigeria and Chad. We took one of the weekly Nacam (National Airways Cameroon) flights to Maoura, the capital of the province. Before taking off, the airplane crew argued about the amount of luggage that was piled up in the back of the plane. The luggage blocked passage through the aisle and through the exit! All the commotion caused me to be even more nervous than I already was about flying such an old airplane.

Before reaching Maraoua, we landed in Ngoundere (the north province, which is right below the far north province) for refueling. What seemed as a routine stop, ended up taking us an hour and a half. The crew had to stop fueling midway because the man to accept the fuel money wasn’t around. So, some phone calls were made and the passengers waited. I even saw a few people eating breakfast in the lobby during our wait. But, we did end up making it to Maroua, the capital of the extreme north, more than 2 hours late. The north province was a hot and dry area containing mountains and grasslands. It consists of Muslims, Christians, and Animists. This area was very beautiful and very exciting to visit.

From the airport we took a hotel shuttle. I realized it would be a long ride to the hotel the moment we left the airport going 30 kph. Throughout the journey, the enginge continued to fail and the driver had to constantly remove the hull (located inside the van) to fix the wiring. As we sat there, nasty fumes blew into our faces. At this point I really just wanted to relax in our hotel and grab a bite to eat. After our dreadfully long journey, we finally arrived at the Porte Mayo Hotel.

Check back tomorrow for more about the trip!!

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Around Yaounde

I decided to post today after my father kept politely reminding me to post about my recent trip to the Extreme North Province of Cameroon. So, I have written out everything I wanted to place on the website, but left it at home. I realized I needed to write something before I receive an email again telling me that I need to post. So, I should have the post about my three week winter vacation up and running tomorrow.

For now I will show you pictures that I have been meaning to post. For the past three weeks I have taken African drum lessons. Once (pretty soon twice ) a week I have an hour lesson at a dance studio called Svelta. The drum we play is the Djembe, which is handmade by the instructor. Its quite fun taking these lessons and I must say I'm actually quite good!!!

The second picture is of one of Mahina, the grocery stores that I go to (just in case you were wondering because I'm sure you were). I rarely go to the market to buy groceries.

So, tomorrow I will definitely have the wonderful pictures up that I took of my break to the Extreme North. I hope everyone is doing well.

Oh, I added some more pictures taken around Yaounde (of one of the traffic circles and of the central market).