I don’t think I would’ve ever described a day spent in Bafoussam, the provincial capital 30 minutes away from my village, as delightful. Usually I am lucky to spend the day there without wanting to punch someone in the face. But this past Monday, it was surprisingly pleasant.
The sun was shining for the first time in weeks. I hadn’t noticed it until a guy from village said this is the first day it hasn’t rained in two weeks. Per usual, I was squeezed in the back seat with 3 others, but luckily my favorite fish mama was next to me. We had some nice chats. She was on her way into Bafoussam to purchase coal for her fish grilling endeavor. It never occurred to me until that moment that one can’t find coal in my village. 14 months in, yet I still learn something new everyday.
The taxi made it into town without too many stops. I dropped off the copy work at my regular shop. The lady who owns this cyber café is one of the most modern and put together Cameroonian women I’ve ever met. She runs her business with such efficiency that blows my mind every time. We’ve became good friends and now she gives me my copies at a special rate. Each week, I look forward to our friendly exchanges when I go in to make copies for my business classes.
After I drop off the work, I walked down Akwa, a street in Bafoussam with bars, and mamas and people selling all kinds of street food. I stopped by my regular brochette guy and picked up a few skewers of bbq meat to fill the stomach. While I waited for my change, I noticed the ease and comfort I possessed in these social situations. Just a year ago, I was at the same place with Kirk, my predecessor, completely intimidated yet excited to face the great unknown. I thought of how far I’ve came in a year.
Brochettes in hand, I stopped by our regular bar to see Ghilain, our bar lady, but she wasn’t there. So I continued the walk toward the bank to withdrawl some money. Nice guard at the bank informed me the ATM machine doesn’t work. Luckily, there was hardly anyone inside the bank since it’s not the end of the month. (Do not try to do anything at a Cameroonian bank near the end of the month. It is a pure nightmare.) I filled out some paperwork at the counter. While waiting for my money, I had a flashback to a year ago when Kate and I were trying to open our accounts there with atrocious French. How things have changed.
I paid a visit at my Chinese family. Per usual, they asked me to stay for lunch. I continue to marvel at how much they reall are like my parents. I told them I will be sitting for the GRE at the end of October and therefore are a lot busier now. Just before I left, they told me to study hard. I was warmed and thought that’s exactly what my mother would say. I will miss them.
Since the sun was shining, I took the opportunity to take a stroll through the market. Usually I detest the market in Bafoussam. People are often obnoxious and in the rainy season, it’s a muddy mess. But this day, I was particularly in the mood for some market action. I roamed through the crowded alleys with relative ease. Saw a stand with some scarfs so I stopped to barter with the lady. Two scarfs for 3000cfa ($6), not bad. I pride in the fact I now can buy most things like a true local.
Then I found my way to the veggie section of the market. I was looking for cucumber and didn’t see any. So I inquired a mama. “Salut, ma fille !” (hello, my girl/daughter) I will miss being greeted this way. She told me where to find cucumber. The lady selling cucumber had a bunch of other things, among them, garlic that are already peeled! This is the equivalent of finding gem. I hate peeling garlic!
I concluded my stroll through the market, picked up my copies and then went behind the gas station to find a car back to Batié. Apparently during the week, taximen aren’t suppose to be getting clients anymore. They are suppose to get clients at a place a bit outside of the city. That requires an extra 200cfa (40cents) in taxi to get there. So during the week, getting car in the center of the city is a hush-hush operation. Like a true local, I do not want to pay the extra 40 cents. I knew exactly where to go and who to see to get a car back home. The things I do here. 🙂
A delightful day in Bafoussam. At this moment in time, I already know for the rest of my life, I will miss days like this one. *sigh*