Thursday, 17 December 2009


(This is a report Derek wrote after our bush medicine trip. Dr Bwelle added in photos and things, but I couldn't upload the whole thing, I'll try another way)

October 2009

The scared farmer lay on his back, staring up at the peeling paint on the ancient
concrete ceiling. His expression is stoic, his lower abdomen is numb, and
presently cut open. It’s filled with clamps and tongs as Doctor Georges Bwelle
Motto sings quietly to the man as he repairs his inguinal hernia. It’s 4am, and this
is surgery patient eleven in a 48-hour medicine and education marathon sponsored
and preformed by Dr. Bwelle Motto.
We’re deep in the Cameroonian bush in the remote village of Messamena.
The facilities here are cleaner and more developed than most locations the
volunteer bush medicine team visits. There is a hospital building, and a working
generator to power the sterilizer and a few naked light bulbs.
German colonialists built a hospital here in the late 1930’s, before World
War Two. It stands in stark contrast to the wood and mud huts that line the one
lane dirt road leading to this end-of-the-road outpost.
A gecko watches from the corner of the window frame as the patient is
stitched back together and given a shot of anti-biotic. There are no outpatient
procedures or follow up visits. Out here in the rain forest there is one chance to get
it right. The incision is double stitched and every possible precaution is taken to
ensure the farmer will recover without complications. Although skillfully
preformed, this is a rustic site to conduct a surgery and every incision is treated as
if infected.
Every Friday, for nine months of the year, Dr. Bwelle Motto finishes his
week’s work at the Hospital of Yaoundé, in Cameroon’s capital city, and loads up
a team of volunteers into a hired van and heads out into the jungle. Strapped to the
roof under a tarp are medical and school supplies, purchased primarily by Dr.
Bwelle Motto, with some contributions from donors, to be given to those who need
His mission is to bring vital medical aid and educational support to the
remote locations of his country. Every weekend from February to November he
spends his time off conducting these vital humanitarian trips. It’s not a hobby or
pass-time, but an all consuming passion that keeps Dr. Bwelle Motto in constant
motion, with a supernatural energy.

(There was a picture here of Dr. Bwelle operating on a pelvic abscess)
(Diagnosis and treatment in that condition without echography for pelvic abcess)

When he’s not working at the hospital he’s organizing his next trip, setting
up transportation, purchasing medicine and medical supplies, contacting village
officials, and acquiring educational supplies for the school children.
There are delays in departing and the team sets out two hours behind
schedule, in an over loaded van. The city’s chaotic traffic and corrupt police
delayed the team even longer. As night fell the van was still navigating a deeply
rutted dirt road into the bush.
Dr. Bwelle Motto and his team arrived at the Messamena Catholic mission
well after dark, and were greeted by a small reception committee of teachers, nuns
and school children. They had been waiting for hours to greet them, and express
their gratitude to the team of volunteers. The children sang a welcome song first in
English then in French. Their song rose up from unseen faces in the pitch black
church yard.
The plan was to start with surgery that night, but the team still needed
permission from the village mayor, the chief and government appointed doctor.
Because of the late arrival the officials had already retired for the evening.
After finally getting in to the hospital, electric problems were discovered and
the generator was not yet delivered so things were postponed till the following
morning. Dr. Bwelle Motto got the only few hours of sleep he’d allow himself for
the weekend, and we went to bed not sure of the next day. There were questions of
if the village doctor would grant us use of the hospital, but Dr. Bwelle planned to
turn the guest house into a clinic if necessary.
Saturday morning the team rose with the sun and started on the political tour
required to get permission to treat the needy of Messamena. First they went to the
mayor, then the village doctor, and lastly the village chief. The team presented
them all with gifts of paper and pens to express good will as the cultural traditions
required. Having secured their support the team proceeded to open the hospital.

The operating room had to be scrubbed clean. Spider webs and dead bugs
removed, a gecko didn’t want to leave and scurried along the wall and ceiling, and
in the end was permitted to stay and observe.
The surgical tools were sterilized, operating tables were set up and two
examination rooms were prepared. Medicine was sorted for a primitive pharmacy
with a simple system of dots to denote dosages to the illiterate villagers.
Perspective patients waited under the scant shade of papaya trees for their
turn to receive vitamins, pain killers, other medicines, injections and surgery.
Person after person were seen and treated. Things went non-stop until three in the
afternoon when medical treatment was recessed for the educational portion of the
trip. The team went to the village school for more politics and to give the children
school supplies.

All the village officials were there, the teachers, the nuns, the children and
parents. Speeches were given with pomp and circumstance, as the children stood
in neat lines in the baking sun. The head of the school was given boxes of chalk,
reams of paper, and red pens for the classrooms. Then the students came forward
and were individually given exercise books, pencils, pens and erasers.

“Education is what will change Cameroon. If we want to see democracy
work and change happen it starts with education. Maybe I can inspire just a few
children to finish school and go to the university. Maybe not now but in a hundred
years change will happen or maybe three hundred, and it starts with teaching the
children and inspiring them. Giving them these few things is what I can do to
help.” Said Dr. Bwelle Motto, when asked why.
After a dinner with the mayor and chief, the team went back to the hospital
for a night of surgeries, injections and consultations. The lights in the hospital
were still only working in a few rooms. But a generator hummed into the night
giving some power for the lights and sterilization oven.
The surgeries were conducted with flashlights held aloft by volunteers, and
Dr. Bwelle Motto working on patient after patient through the night and into
Sunday afternoon. The team finally had to leave so they could get back to
Yaoundé before it was too late. This way the doctor could get some sleep before
going to work at the city hospital to earn the money for the next trip into the bush.

Dr. Bwelle Motto doesn’t receive any funding or help from his government.
Unlike big charities he has no administers or support network. He earns the money
by working and receives some small donations from friends and colleagues.
“I was poor, my father was sick and for 23 years he laid in bed. But my
parents did the best for me. When I went to school my father asked ‘What do you
want to be?’ ‘A doctor,’ I said. ‘A doctor, well be a doctor then.’ So when I was
done with primary school, my father said ‘Go to high school,’ then ‘Go to
university.’ I was never able to treat my father; he died before I was able. But I
want to help other poor children know they can become educated, this is why it’s
not just about medical treatment but education as well.”
This isn’t a story about a corrupt government or charities that spend their
funds in administration costs, or even all the foreign aid that never helps a person
in need. It’s about a man that gives his time and money to help people who need
it, he has a deep burning passion to ease their suffering and bring change to a
struggling society.

He’s saving money for a sturdy vehicle to take his team into the bush. He
needs his own generator and lights, and there’s the constant need for educational
and medical supplies. If you want to help him there isn’t a website or a toll free
number to call, but you can email Dr. Bwelle Motto and he’ll let you know how
you can help.
At the end we did 147 free medical consultations, 16 free surgical
operations and we gave didactic material to 163 children of primary and
maternal school and 15 teachers.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Bush Medicine

Hi! I know it's been a long time since I've updated last- so much to tell you! Derek came to visit and I had a week off of school, so we had some great adventures.  I'll start with the first one, a bush medicine trip, and then maybe the next blog will be about traveling to a village called Bangem around with my cooperating teacher who used to teach for peace corp there.

Ok, so Derek arrives!! That was super exciting.  I was so nervous that any number of things could have gone wrong, and he wouldn't have shown up at the airport- but he did! He got in on a Tuesday night, and I had to go to school for wed and thurs, but he got a fever and was sick from all his travels, so he stayed home.  But, he tried to get better quick for our super cool trip.

So Anjana, who I'm living with now, knows this doctor, George Bwelle, who goes on these mostly self-funded bush medicine trips- so Derek and I got to go!  Derek wrote an article about it, so that would be a good summary to read- except that my computer hard drive died this week, so we lost it.  So I'll post it once he writes it again.  Anyways, I'll try to summarize how the whole thing works:

George is a Cameroonian doctor who has a heart for the remote villages in Cameroon.  He is a digestive surgeon at a hospital in Cameroon, but his main passion is to bring medical help and educational supplies to villages in the bush.  So he basically started donating most of his money and trying to get some donations from colleagues in Belgium and other connections, to develop get supplies and get a team together to take these trips on weekends to remote villages.  His hope is that he can develop relationships with these places so that the people will trust his medicine, and so that he'll be able to help the school systems so that he can make a difference.  He says that he hopes that at least 1 or 2 students from each village would be inspired to learn and leave the village for a better education and then be an example to the rest.  So basically George spends his weeks working at the hospital and planning these trips.  On weekends he gets the team together and leaves on a Friday, works like crazy, comes back on Sunday, and goes back to work to do it all over again.  He's really an amazing guy- and its just so refreshing to see someone who cares so much and who is really giving almost everything away.  In a country where corruption is so rampant, its so inspiring to see George and his team giving so much. 

Ok, so the team isn't really set in stone.  George is usually the only doctor, there are a few med students who come along, and then just some other students or people that George knows.  So I'll explain our trip:

So we meet George and two of his colleagues from Belgium, Fabian and Richard, who have been in Cameroon for 2 weeks or so helping him out, at Anj's apartment on Thursday night to talk about the trip and for them to pick up donated clothes that Anj collected.  Basically our role is to help out- give out medicine, observe surgery, whatever we want- so that we can tell others about it and spread the word mostly.  On Friday we meet up at George's house (which, by the way, is more of a typical cameroonian house- which he could definitely afford better if he wasn't giving his money away), and wait.  This is a theme of the trip, waiting.  Also not knowing what is going on.  Everyone on this trip is a native french speaker, so Derek and I are often sitting and smiling, or zoning out, not knowing what anyone is saying.   So we find out that there are 12 of us all together.  We finally jam into a bus that barely fits us, with all our belongings and supplies strapped to the roof with innertubing.  The ride was supposed to be like 4 hours, but we left late and got delayed on the road because the gendarm have many checkpoints on the road where they stop people and ask for IDs and find ways to make money.  So our driver tested positive for alcohol (he had had 1 beer so he was like .04 % or something) so we waited and waiting and then finally paid off the gendarm with 2,000 (which is like 4$).  Pretty rediculous, given what our mission is and who it is that's making it difficult for us. 

Anyways, the paved road ends and we go on a red dirt road which then turns off onto a very bumpy narrow road that goes into the bush.  We take this for a long time and finally arrive at Messamena. Because we were late, its dark when we get there and we can't have this ceremony that we were supposed to have where we would meet all the bigwigs of the town and such.  But there was a small group of students who sang us a welcome song and we met the teachers.  We stayed at this boarding house type place- very basic, but there were rooms and they cooked us food (no shower, outhouses...).  We were going to use this old, looked like it hadn't been used in 30 years, hospital so we were supposed to get it all sterilized and get started on some surgeries that night, but there were some obstacles.  First, apparently you need permission from the guys in charge to come and do anything like that, and permission to use the hospital.  Cuz we got there later,  they had all gone to bed so we had to wait till the morning and go around to each one's home and do the formal thing, take pictures, give a gift, all that for the major, the chief, and the head of the hospital.  Also, there is only electricity from dusk till 11PM, but we were supposed to have a generator which wasn't working or something the night we got there, so we didn't have any light to do anything.  So finally the next day we're able to start getting ready, by now its like noon on saturday.  Meanwhile there are people waiting outside the hospital the whole time, like all night, waiting to be seen.  

So we start cleaning- there's one surgery room, which has a basic surgery bed, and a sink- we do the best we can with a rag and dirty water and antiseptic wipes.  So basically they set up 2 consultation rooms- the patients wait wait wait and then see one of the more medically trained team members for consultation.  Derek and I bag medicine and put little code drawings on the baggies for how often you take the pills (because many people can't read).  Most of the medications are vitamins, supplements, pain medication, that type of thing.  And most patients come in and get a shot- its for the pain.  I was confused at first, but apparently the idea is that a lot of people in the village don't trust this type of medicine.  And a lot of people are in pain, because they're farmers so they work really hard and have all sorts of issues, so when we can give them an injection helps the pain for a few days, and then some medicine that will help for about a week, then the people see how it actually works, so they are more likely to trust the medicine for the next time George comes.  That means they're more likely to agree to surgery.

So Derek and I actually got to give injections- which was cool.  We mostly just learned how to do it and did a few.  Derek doesn't really like needles, so I was proud of him.  They were these huge long things that we gave to people in their thigh.  Other than that, we really didn't feel very useful.  There was a lot of sitting around and waiting.  We gave out the donated clothes to people who were waiting- but I didn't really like it.  The clothes we had were pretty crappy for the most part, and we didn't have a ton, so it was hard to find something that would fit everyone.  We'd come out with a few clothes and start giving one to each person.  Then when I didn't have any in my hands, the lady who didn't get one would clap her hands and give me this terrible look saying through her motions "where's mine?" I'd trying to motion that I had to go and get more.  Then when I gave her one, she'd smile and say thanks.  Its really amazing to see how much these people don't have, and its hard to come and just give them some vitamins and an old shirt.  But it really does mean a lot to them.  

Most of the houses at this village were made out of mud bricks.  Only the wealthy guys in the town had cars.  There was a little town center where at night there was a bar and dancing and people selling food, and some other little "stores."  When we were driving there on Friday we'd be in just bush, and then come up on some houses, and then nothing, and then another little section of houses.  Everything is really spread out.  And the people all waved and cheered when we drove by- very happy to see us.

Ok, so back to Saturday- George wants us to be as involved as we want, so I get to go in and watch a surgery! It was so cool.  Oh, so all the surgeries that he does are basically for hernias.  He only does surgery that he knows wouldn't lead to anything too complicated that he wouldn't be able to fix right there- because there's no med-evac or anything like that.  And due to the lifestyle of these people, tons of them have hernias.  (One guy was so bad that his intestines had all come out into his testicles so that they were huge.) (Oh, and he'll do like removing tumors or cysts too.  One woman had this huge cyst like in her urinary tract, and they tried to get it out but they couldn't)  So I walk into the surgery room and theres this skinny man lying naked and shaved on the table.  George gives him some injections in his abdomen so he can't feel it, but the guy is awake the whole time.  I thought that was crazy.  So they just cut him open.  George explains to me what he's doing the whole time, and shows me the nerve, the spermatic chord, the hole, a parasite they found white doing surgery, his intestines, and  then sews up the hole.  It was just George and then Richard, the nurse from Belgium.  It was really amazing to see.  I was nervous, but made it through the whole thing.  George says that he treats all the surgeries as if they're already infected, because of the conditions and because there's no followup on the patients either.  So he douses the area with iodine and double stitches him up, and gives him antibiotic. Then he sits the guy up, helps him put his pants on, gives him some pills for the pain, and he's out the door.

So George did I think 15 surgeries in all.  A few in the afternoon on Saturday, then we took a break and went to a ceremony at the school where we gave out school supplies to each kid (there was like 250 students there), and then back to work for the evening where George stayed up doing surgeries all night until we had to stop at 12 noon on Sunday so we could leave.  Most of the team stayed up too- but there wasn't much for Derek and I to do, so I guiltily slept.  There were still people waiting who wanted surgery, but we didn't have enough supplies, and we had to leave so that George could get back to get some sleep and then go to work the next day.  

Ok, so I know this was really long, but I really feel like there's so much more I want to explain about it.  It's just all so different than anything I've done before, so there's so many details I've had to leave out.  Sorry if its not a great summary, I'm trying to get out the things that stuck out the most.  Overall, it's really eye opening to see how whole villages of people live.  These people were really really poor.  And they live in the middle of now where.  Yet there's still a cell tower and cell service.  Even though there's barely electricity for a few hours a day.  The chief of the town is obviously a big tool- has a huge house and tons of stuff and actually answered his telephone to talk to a friend during the ceremony when George was giving a speech to him.  Everyone had to wait until he was off the phone to continue.  It was so rude.  And these people are so poor and have barely any health care- yet there's this whole hospital center and some guy who's the head of the hospital- but I have no idea what he does for the people.  

The rest of this team isn't like wealthy people either- they're mostly Cameroonian students.  One guy has been helping George out for years, he knows like everything about surgery now, but he didn't ever graduate from school, so he's very very far behind and dirt poor. George is trying to figure out a way to help him go back to school.  We didn't get to talk to people on the team much, only some of them spoke English, but we did find that further into the trip more people spoke English, or much better English, than they let on in the beginning.  Apparently a few weeks ago a group of med students from Boston came to help out and they were real jerks and really didn't do so well, so people were a bit apprehensive to be friendly to more Americans.  Stupid Americans :-) 

I ate viper and porcupine and caterpillars.  When I came home I wiped my face with my sleeve, and my sleeve had a huge red/brown streak on it.  We were soooo dirty.  But it was really a life changing trip.  If you want to help out, donate, get involved in fundraising, or even work out anything with going to Cameroon, you really really should.  There's no website or anything, but George has an account in Belgium for donating, and you can email him  

Ok, well that's enough for now!   I actually only have like 1.5 weeks left here.  Derek leaves on the 6th, and I leave on the 10th.  One more week of teaching, another weekend, and then I'm gone.  It's really crazy how fast it all went, of course.  I'll update again, but it might actually not be till I come back to the states. 

Miss you all!

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Sun Rises and Sets

Finally I could get some pictures up! We recently got "faster" internet here, so I might actually be able to hear your voices if we skype! Also, I changed the settings on this blog thing (didn't realize you could) so that anyone can post a comment. So now if you want to comment on anything or respond back or ask questions, go ahead! Or you can always email me too :-)
Oh, and just so everyone know, DEREK IS COMING ON TUESDAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! He left a few days ago and arrived in Amsterdam, and has been traveling around there for a bit. He's making his way to Paris and will fly here on Tuesday. Needless to say I am so excited. This next weekend starts break, so after that I'll have some good stories to tell about our adventures: I believe we'll go on a bush medicine trip, visit my cooperating teacher's village from when he was in peace corp, and go to the beach (Limbe this time) and see Mount Cameroon. I'm pumped! And my dad comes in 2 weekends as well, after his trip to a seminary with my church. So please pray for safety for both him and Derek.

Here are some pictures from Anjana's (I'm living with her now) porch- her apartment faces the east, so we get the best sunrises ever. Since we have to get up early for work anyways, I've been getting up a little bit earlier to eat breakfast on the balcony and watch the sun rise, it's really a great way to start the day. And I may talk about the sun and the clouds a lot here, but really, every day the clouds are beautiful. There are just so many all the time, I've never see blue skies.

This is a rainstorm coming in- its so fun to watch them come and then all the sudden its pouring rain.

There was a storm coming in really fast, and I quick ran to get my camera and saw this awesome rainbow. It only lasted a few minutes, before it was a total storm here, but it was so cool.

So here's some more from Kribi (the beach) which was a few weekends ago:This one is just a little trail we went on to look at that huge waterfall- the trees are huge and everything is super green. This picture doesn't really capture it though.
This is the view from the beach at our hotel- perfect sunsets. Although, that barge out there is for the oil rig, which is in all my pictures :-)
This is me and Raissi (or Riessa, as I've been spelling it), trying to get the sunset in the background. Beautiful isn't she?

Monday, 5 October 2009

Cameroonian Church

Hello everybody!
Well, we had our second basketball game this weekend- there was an improvement from the first one, which was good! Although, the other team was actually full of really good highschoolers, so they played down a LOT, which was really nice of them. By the end of the game the other team was playing defense with no hands, and their coach wouldn't let them shoot unless they passed a certain number of times! But that way my girls at least got to see how a game should flow, and the score was pretty close. So it was a good experience. Although my throat hurt after the game cuz I had been yelling so much, trying to get girls' attention to tell them they were on offense and not defense... :-)

I also went to church finally! I went with Sean, another teacher here- we took a taxi to meet up with Nelson, a guy who works at the kitchen at school (he's the one from Ndu that has brothers who are at the seminary there, which is where my dad is going very soon with my church), who took us to this really big baptist church. So it was actually my first few taxi rides, which was fun. We crammed 5 people other than the driver, plus a baby, in. I was sitting up front sharing the seat with Nelson's niece.

There were tons of people there. There's a french service and an English service. Although, the English service is second, so its way longer. The whole thing took like 3 hours. It was packed and pretty hot, but definitely could have been worse. They had 4 different choirs, all in different languages. The pastor gave this schpiel to the new choir about how its an honor to be in the choir and how they shouldn't wear their choir clothes to work or anything, but to remember that they are for the Lord and only for singing in church. Interesting.

There was lots of singing, which they put the words in the screen which was nice cuz I still have trouble understanding the accents. The pastor spoke about the God we thank. About thanking God for the big and small, about how God gives us things to enjoy and enables us to enjoy them. He told this story of a Cameroonian who worked his whole life, saying he'd enjoy life once he was in retirement. So he finally retired and got all this money, bought himself nice clothes and a car a and a chauffeur, and was on his way to the nicest restaraunt when he closed his eyes and said "finally, this is enjoying life" and BAM, car accident and he died. When he got to heaven he was standing at the gates, complaining to Jesus "why? why now when i was just starting to enjoy life? it isn't fair!" And Jesus says "who are you?"
Interesting I thought. Also interesting because a sermon on enjoying life the way it is means something different here and Cameroon. The standard is totally different. It's one thing to tell a suburban American who just lost a bunch of money in the stock market to enjoy life when its hard, and its another thing to tell a Cameroonian with aids and 6 kids and a salary of like 50$ a month to enjoy life.

So I didn't really meet many poeple cuz it was so crowded. Nelson usually goes to a smaller church thats part of this one thats a bit closer, so we'll prolly go there next sunday maybe. Nelson convinced us to go out for drinks afterwards for a bit, we met his wife who works at a salon, and then finally got home in the afternoon. I was super tired cuz I was up late- there was a Latin Dance Night at school the night before which I went to. The school tries to do stuff for the teachers and embassy/ex pat community every so often, so its good to go and support. This weekend is the women's tennis.

Also this weekend I think I'm going to a Lions game (the soccer team) so I'm really excited about that. Saturday will be a long day with tennis and the game, but it'll be fun.

Oh, so Liz didn't have swine, just another bad flu. So the school didn't close, so thats good. I'm currently living half at Liz's and half at Anj's. It's fun though.
Derek leaves for Europe tomorrow!! He travels around there for a week, and then will be here to see me on Tuesday!!! I'm so excited. My dad leaves for Cameroon on like the 16th to teach at a seminary in Ndu (which is like 8 or something more hours north of me) for the week. Then he'll come visit me for like 2 days and fly out. So great to be able to see family!

And my pastor from home can marry me and Derek, so May 22 here we come! This is the unofficial save the date, cuz we're not gonna be getting one out till I get home.

In other news I broke out the oreos that were in the package Gramps sent me, and oh man, are they good!


Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Tennis and Basketball

Here's a short one (finally, I know!) Ok, well now that I've written it, its not that short, but shorter than some of the others :

So this weekend was mostly a weekend of tennis. I've been playing after school with a bunch of other teachers a few times a week, and so this weekend I played in a mixed doubles tournament. It was mostly teachers, some embassy people, and some peacecorp people (mostly all Americans). Can I just preface this by saying that I am definitely not a good tennis player. I have had a little experience in the past, but I don't even like mentioning that because it shows how I should be a lot better than I am :-) But anyways, I played with Chad, who I had never met before. He and his wife work for peacecorp I think.

Oh, well first on Saturday we had our first basketball game!! So the first practice we had 2 girls, the second practice we had 3, and the 3rd practice (after some recruiting on my part) we had 9! So come Saturday we had had 1 practice with all the girls. I've been having a really good time with it. More than 1/2 of the girls have never played before, so we're starting really really basic here. So Saturday game comes along, and right before the game I'm trying to explain how to throw a ball in bounds :-) But the game went pretty well overall. I mean, we definitely lost, but it wasn’t too bad- the other coach put in his weak players and didn’t kill us, which was nice. I think we scored like 12 points, which the PE teacher said that's like 3 times as many points as they scored all season last year, haha

It was interesting to be a coach and not a player- my first time. I kept telling the girls to sprint back and then play defense, which none of them did. Not once were we able to get the ball and pass it around on our end of the court. And two of the girls loved to try and play defense on our own players who had the ball! It was quite funny. But I think they had a good time. Another game this Saturday- and we only get one, 1 hour practice before then! How are we supposed to improve? Oh well!

So back to tennis. I coached the bball game and then ran over to the tennis court, met Chad, and then we played. The tournament was fun- there were about 9 teams I think, split up into two groups. So the first day we played 2 games and lost both, but they were close. Then it rained, so we played 4 games on Sunday, which was tiring! But we did much better. We ended up in the lower of the two groups, but we came in first out of the lower division! So that was fun. Chad is a really good player, so I give him all the credit.

Other than that, I got totally burnt on Sunday, not surprising I guess. There's a women's singles tournament in 2 weeks, so I think I might play in that one, mostly because someone has to come in last place! This weekend there’s another basketball game and Latin dance night at school for teachers and parents. Then next weekend is the tennis tournament, and then Derek comes that Tuesday!!!!! (the 13th) I’m currently trying to figure out plans for my October break, which comes the week after Derek gets here, so it’ll be really fun. We may do some or all of the following: help deliver medicine in the bush with a doctor, visit my cooperating teacher’s village he lived at when he was in peacecorp, go to Bamenda, go to the beach again. All great opportunities!

Oh, and I've moved in with Ang for at least a little bit because Liz came down with a really bad sickness, and it might be swine flu, so she's qaurentined at least until we get the results back on Thursday. A lot of kids are out of school too, so we don't know if it's going to be a swine flu problem, or if there's just regular sickness going around. Hopefully nothing too major. But for now we still see liz, just with masks on- reminds me of mumps days at wheaton :-)

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Pictures from Kribi

This is Liz, Ryan, and Joel swimming at sunset in the little bay by one of the hotels.

This is the waterfall that flows right into the ocean

The internet is not really working now, so I can't get any more pictures up, but they will be on facebook soon, so you should check that out to see all of them :-)

Kribi- Weekend at the Beach

I feel like I’m always writing about my weekends- one of these days I’ll write about a typical weekday here, but for now, too much happens on the weekends!

This past weekend was a 3 day because of the end of Ramadan as a holiday, so I got to go to the beach with a big group of teachers! It was so cool.

Kribi is one of the beach towns in Cameroon- its about 4 hours from Yaounde, and there’s one road you take to get there. It’s the one road you travel on from Yaounde to Duala (the biggest city in Cameroon), and its crazy. We had it good because we left at good times when the road wasn’t crowded. But it’s a really narrow road with lots of turns, and everyone here drives crazy. There’s lots of buses and huge logging trucks so you have to pass people a lot. There are a lot of accidents on the road. Every once in awhile there are little “towns” long the way, very small, but everyone swarms your car and tries to get to you buy bananas and plantain chips. It's crazy how you drive with nothing around for miles, and then all of the sudden there's a little house all alone, or a little town. You have to stop at these towns and pay a toll to a lady that collects your money- apparently that’s why the road is so “good.” It’s actually paved and there’s no potholes, due to the tolls. You also have to stop at checkpoints, where the gendarmes (Cameroonian police officers) stop cars and check ID’s and passports, and try to get bribes. I drove in a car that belonged to one of our friends who works with the embassy, so he had special plates, so we didn’t have to stop at any checkpoints, which was nice. So that’s an adventure in itself, but we made it without much excitement so that was good.

We stayed at this cute little hotel called the Serena, its right on the beach, there’s only like 12 rooms in the whole thing. We were almost the only people staying there. It has outdoor dining and beach chairs and the beach right there. It’s nice, but Cameroonian nice- everything is just old and not very clean, and usually broken. But you can tell it used to be nice at one point, and where we stayed was very nice for Cameroon.

Kribi is so cool- you feel like you’re in Swiss Family Robinson all the time. You’re in a jungle but on the beach at the same time. I’ll put up some pictures instead of trying to describe it. The water is warm, and the waves are really strong so you can’t really swim out far.

So we went to this fish market right when we got there- it’s right on the water, and there’s tons of fresh fish. You walk around and pick out your fish, and then they cook it for you right there and bring it to you and you eat by the water. It was so cool, and sooo cheap for really good fresh fish. I had this red something or other and this really flat fish, and shrimp. We went back there the next day and got barracuda- it was sooo good. I’m not even into fish at all, but this fish was so good, and how they prepared it was awesome too. (Of course they give you the whole fish, head and everything.)

Because this was like vacation for us, a lot of us brought books and laid in the sun and read, which was really relaxing. We also went to see this really cool waterfall- its I think one of the only places in the world where freshwater pours straight into the ocean without going first into a bay or a channel or something. The waterfall was not high, but really wide, so it was like 5 waterfalls pouring into the ocean. The road to the waterfalls was crazy too- very Cameroonian. You really need 4 wheel drive to get around. The road wasn’t paved, and was full of holes and huge bumps. It had also just rained a ton, so there were huge puddles. They have these little bridges that are like 5 planks, makes me nervous! But we made it there and back. It’s amazing how you travel down these roads and then all of the sudden there’s a school or a hospital in the middle of the jungle.

Ryan and Joel and Riessa also came, but they stayed at another hotel (which was cheaper) so on Sunday night we went there to have a fish cookout and bonfire on the beach. It was really cool, we paid these people to get fish and cook it for us right there- barracuda again, shrimp, and “lobster” which was more like crayfish. I didn’t eat any of that. I was considerate and let other people J. Before the cookout we went swimming in this bay area that was more calm- the sunset was beautiful so I got some great pictures of people swimming there. It’s just so cool. You look out at this beautiful ocean, and then you turn around and there’s huge trees with awesome roots and trunks, little channels, huge leaves and palm trees. Everyone there also goes out and fishes in these canoes that are just hollowed out trees, they’re so cool. You’ll have to look at the pictures.

Overall it was a really great weekend. It was so beautiful, but also relaxing and so nice to just wake up and walk out your door to the beach. It was also really nice to get out with other people and relax and have fun as a group. There was 9 of us, so it was a fun group. I also got to hang out a bunch with Riessa, which was a lot of fun too. I really like that girl.

We came back on Monday afternoon, and then it was back to school today! I had basketball practice (I’m coaching middle school girls basketball) where 3 girls showed up. Haha. I’m trying to recruit more girls. If we can’t get at least 5, we’ll have to give up. I hope I can get more girls to play, I really like coaching. We have a game this weekend… so I need to get at least 2 more by Saturday! We’re playing Rainforest International School, the missionary school in Yaounde, so that would be cool to make some connections over there. I’ll let you know how it goes.

In other news, I’m starting to teach full time this week, so that means I’m teaching 4-8th grade on my own. It’s getting busy, but I still have Tom, my cooperating teacher for 6-8th grade guiding me a lot, so that’s good. I’m starting a unit on motion with the 4th graders and a unit on sound with the 5th graders, which I’m really excited about. I’m using AIMS and FOSS, which is like curriculum and lessons already set up, so its nice to have something to go by and be a little more organized with. Open house for middle school is tomorrow, so I’ll get to meet some more parents.

Other exciting news: Derek is coming to visit! He’ll be here October 13th, which I’m sooooooo excited about. I have a week break from school the week after he gets here, so we’ll have some fun adventures. It will be so nice to have him here for company, but also to experience all that I’m experiencing here. I had another nice treat this week to- a package from Gramps! He sent me a care package all the way to Cameroon. It was a bit of an adventure actually getting it, but I made it to the post office and had to pay a bit to get it, but it came, and it was unopened (which is rare that it got here and that no one opened it and took any of my goodies out). It took about 4 weeks to get here I think. But totally worth it! Peanut butter, pretzels, klenex, cup-a-soups, all sorts of great stuff. Thanks Gramps!

Ok, that’s all for now! I miss you all.

Love Grace