Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Trekking up to Ohio

As my parents and I travel to Ohio for my brother’s wedding, I’m thinking of all of the different places I’d like to visit in the future. Mostly, I’m thinking of my cross country road trip with my boyfriend! It’s going to be so much fun. I enjoy traveling and I encourage everyone to do so. You meet so many wonderful and amazing people and see things you wouldn’t normally see (or things you could only see off of google images).

It is also a small world:

1. Darrell and I met a man and his neice while waiting in one of the various lines at the Eiffel tower. The neice was visiting her uncle in Europe. After talking with them, I found out that she goes to a high school close to where I went to high school. And, it is even a high school my basketball team used to play.
2. On the flight from Zurich to Atlanta, I sat next to a friendly man from Ohio also. His son attends the university that I graduated from.
3. My parents and I stayed in a campground in Knoxville, TN. The morning before heading out we met a nice couple who stayed in the RV next to us. My parents were explaing to them how I just returned from Africa. And, the woman says I know so much about Africa. I was stunned because not so many people know much about Africa (or Cameroon for that matter). Well, she explained that she was from Cape Town (where I spent my spring break) and her husband was born and raised in Long Beach, CA where I lived and will return to this summer!

It is such a small world. And, you can find some of the most interesting people when traveling. You never know who you’ll run in to. I always imagine that one day I will come across a long lost friend of mine while wondering the halls of the airport. And, I think it will happen one day. HAPPY TRAVELS.

(This is a picture of my parent’s RV (the one on the right). We spent the night at a campground outside of Knoxville, TN.)

Random thoughts and shots around Paris

I have just recently returned to the US from Paris, France only to be welcomed with a sore throat and a headache. Before arriving, I spent three days in Paris with my boyfriend, Darrell. Paris is not on my top ten list of places to travel to, despite the wonderful reviews it receives. It is a beautiful city, with tons of cafes, shopping malls, beautiful historic buildings, and TOURISTS!

On Day one, Darrell met me at the airport and we took off to our hotel, Michelet Odeon near the Luxembourg gardens. We dropped our bags and walked to the Notre Dame cathedral, where we took a few pictures but were scared from entering after viewing the long line of people. We wondered around a bit more then decided to go to the Eiffel tower. I was shocked at how industrial the tower looked in person. But, nevertheless, we were there and we were going to stand in line to head up to the top. Once, at the top, we had beautiful views of the city. The entire trip up to the top and back down (including waiting in lines, purchasing tickets, and taking the elevator) totaled three hours!! At that point, I was quite turned off to the idea of waiting in lines since I had just flown 6 hours from Africa and had a hellish last week at school.

The following day we walked around some more, ate at a few cafés, and visited the Parisian shopping malls, Printemps and Lafayette Galleries. I wondered the aisles of the shopping mall, amazed at the selections of designer clothing. And, no, I didn’t buy anything at the mall (but did buy two blouses elsewhere).

The two places on my list to go in Paris were the Eiffel tower and the Louvre. Unfortunately, the Louvre is closed on Tuesdays. On Wednesday Darrell and I met up with a friend of mine named Sandrine in Reims (a 45minute train ride from Paris), in the Champagne country, which is the only place true champagne comes from. We enjoyed walking around, viewing the cathedral, and of course touring one of the champagne caves (and the tasting of course). Darrell and I bought a vintage bottle of champagne! And, I can’t wait to open it. I will admit that this trip to Reims was my favorite part of the whole trip to Paris. The town is simple, small, and welcoming and we had a wonderful time.

After returning by train to Paris, at 5:00pm we dashed off to the Louvre. Since it was around 5:30 when we arrived, there were no lines to the Louvre. But, don’t let the lack of lines fool you, the place was still crowded! We spent almost 2 1/2 hours in the Louvre and still didn’t get to see everything. By the end of that time, my legs ached and I was exhausted. But, we saw the important pieces like the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo.

My trip to Paris ended quickly, as I dashed off to the airport at 4:45 am on the last day.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Je suis a Paris!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

You know you're tired when...

Stressful, Tiresome, and Busy. Those are the three words that would be describe my last week in Cameroon. Definitely not how I would want to spend my last days in Cameroon. In hindsight, I think I would have booked my flight out of Yaounde a week after school got out instead of two days after the final bell rings. Between dealing with school business and arranging my personal things, I have had no time to take in the beauty that I will leave behind nor properly say good-bye to the wonderful people I've met here.

Today, I knew I was tired when my eyes started burning after I tried removing my eye make up with make up remover. After applying the liquid to my eyes, and feeling the burning sensation, I decided to check the bottle. I had applied NAIL POLISH REMOVER to my eye instead of make up remover! I'm so lucky I'm not leaving Cameroon blind.

I can even tell I'm tired when I'm speaking with my co-workers. I will walk into their classroom, stand, and just stare around at the walls not realizing I actually did have something to say to them.

This week I have gone to many going away parties for teachers who are leaving as well as families who will no longer return. At one house, there were drummers who filled the brunch with a lovely sound. I couldn't leave there without doing a bit of dancing. And, of course, I had to say good-bye to my dance and drum instructors. I learned a lot about Cameroon culture from them.

I've done all this and I still have to pick up a skirt I ordered, visit the market one last time, and say bye to my friends at the orphanage.

At this point, I'm too overwhelmed and tired to be excited! But, I'm sure when I board the plane on Sunday, all will be well.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Cameroonian Dance Performance

Last year, if you remember, I took drum lessons. This year, now that my knee feels a whole lot better, I've been taking Cameroon dance class off and on. Well, let me be honest, more off than on.

One morning I decided to wake up and do the class. Little did I know that that move would land me in a dance performance in front of an audience of people! The other ladies had been practicing for some time, but it didn't take me long to learn the two dance performances.

So, on June 1st we had our performance at the Cameroon Cultural Center. I invited a few people from the school to come out and watch me perform! Surprisingly, three of my students came to watch as well. It was definitely a great performance. Everyone loved our dancing and outfits.

In the pictures, I'm on the left side in a black and purple outfit. My position is in the second row. Hopefully you can see me!

One week left in Yaounde

Wow! I can't believe that my two years in Cameroon has come to an end. There is exactly one week left here in Yaounde!! A few weeks ago the moving company came to ship my things to Los Angeles. Wow, I really didn't realize that I had so much stuff. I was even worried whether or not my boxes would fit on this small moving truck, but it did. I'm excited about leaving. I can't wait to decorate my apartment with the things I've bought, have dinner and show my photos, and spread the knowledge of Cameroon and Africa to my future students.

Learning Batik

The students and I took a trip to Charlotte's house. There we learned the process of batik, or dying fabric. Each student received one piece of cloth to wax. They then selected one of these various stamps. After allowing the wax to melt and become hot, they dipped their stamp in the wax and made patterns of wax on their fabric. I remember being a nervous wreck because I didn't want one of the students to get burnt by the wax. But, I did manage to make my own design.

Orange Dye!

After stamping a pattern of wax, the cloth is then placed in a bucket of dye. The students chose a bright orange dye. We were all confused because the dye looked purple! We let the fabric sit in the bucket for about 20minutes, turning often.

The places where the wax was placed, penetrates the dye. Therefore, the dye does not stain any place where the wax is. So, once the cloth is removed from the dye and the wax is finally removed, a beautiful pattern is left where the wax once was.

After the 20 minutes in the dye bucket, we laid the cloth out on the ground for the color to get exactly the right shade.

Removing the wax

After the cloth has been dyed, it is placed in a boiling pot of water. It is left to boil for about 20 minutes. The boiling process removes all of the wax that remains on the cloth. The wax melts away and remains in the water. This wax is collected and reused for later projects.


The last step in the batik process is to remove the cloth from the boiling pot and hang dry. Sometimes, you may have to wash the cloth several times afterwards to remove the additional wax leftover.

And, Voila! You have your very own batik masterpiece!

Field trip to Mbalmayo

The students and I took a trip to one of the father's wood factory. Here we saw the entire process of transforming wood into veneer.

Cutting and Drying

Huge chunks of wood are brought into the factory and cut into fourths. Afterwards, the pieces are lifted and placed into a huge steamer which dries the wood before it can be cut. The steamer is about 4 meters deep.

Cutting the Veneer

After the wood pieces are dried, they are put into machines to be cut into small, thin pieces called veneer. The wood sits in the machine and it quickly slices pieces from the top. It then spits them out, the men catch them, and stack them on top of one another.

Sewing pieces together

The last step in the process is to "sew" the veneer pieces together. They use machines that are similar to sewing machines, but instead put out a zig zag of glue that sticks the pieces together. And, voila!

The factory usually receives a request of the amount of veneer, the type, and the size. And, therefore all of this is done according to their orders.

Shots of the church

I wanted to add these photos of the church we visited. The sunlight shines directly from a whole at the top of the church. In addition, the church has huge wide open spaces that overlook the mountain.

The Beautiful Church

After visiting the wood factory, the students and I went to a nearby mountainside that overlooked the city of Mbalmayo. There we met an Italian man who is in charge of building this beautiful open aired church. Coincidentally, I sat next to this Italian man and his family on the plane ride back from California in April. It's a small world (or a small international community here in Cameroon).The wood used in building this church comes from the factory while the rock comes from the surrounding area.

The church allowed for a nice mix of sunlight, cool breezes, and fresh air. It's too bad I won't be around to see it finished.

Butterflies at the sanctuary

The class and I took a walk with brother Daniel out to the rocks that over look the city of Mbalmayo. Out on the rocks, they constructed a statue of the Virgin Mary. This area is a place for the brothers and sisters of the sanctuary of peace to pray. The students had a wonderful time talking with Daniel. I think he was even happy to see us!

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Shots around Town

Yaounde is a great place to take pictures. For that reason, I always have my camera at hand. On our return from Mbalmayo I took the following shots from the bus. Here we have a picture of a beer truck making a deliever of 33, one of the locally made beers. And, the other picture is of one of the various driving schools.