Tuesday, February 15, 2011

My city is in the South West of Cameroon. I am not supposed to post the name of it for some security reason or other, but if you came to the South West region of Cameroon and asked around in the few cities for a white man, it wouldn't take long. The city is quite dusty and hot right now. During dry season it rains very little and is always hot and humid. Sweat is dripping down my body just typing this. Eating makes me sweat. Juggling makes me sweat. Thinking about sweat makes me sweat.

I passed through Yaounde and Douala on my way to post and those cities are massive and sprawling. Read this for an idea of what these cities are like: Douala! You can get pizza, burgers, fries, Indian food, Chinese food, and shop in a supermarket for western goods. If you care for that, I am fine with fish, rice, beans, eggs, and soya (street beef). The trip took about six hours in a cramped van. Five people per row and one stop. Its express service baby.

The clouds seem closer here. It seems like they are more personal here in Africa, like you know them better. Storm clouds are another thing. As a storm rolls over the city you can hear it before you see the rain. My first storm was a curiosity; it sounded like several large trucks driving off in the distance. Then the shack I was working in was bombarded with rain. And just like that it passed and the sun was shining but several minutes later. It appears rainy season has come about a month early. Rains have been coming just about every other day. 

Vast jungle sprawls out around my city and the paved road ends here. I have traveled on motos out into the bush and it is beautiful. Trees and brush so thick you cannot pass through without a machete. A great sea of green everywhere you look. The dense jungle opens up for massive plantations of bananas, oil palms, rubber trees, and plantains. Thousands of trees in neat rows. The nearby crater lake is gorgeous. An isolated tribe offers boat rides around the lake and to its village on the other side.  

The organization I work with is a sort of umbrella organization. They are a Common Initiative Group (CIG) and work with many other CIGs. The organization, Key Farmers Cameroon, (KFC) pulls all of these other CIGs together and works on projects or  training formations. I have traveled around and introduced myself to many of these groups, and I will be assessing their professed needs and figuring out what I can do to help them. These groups are not exclusively farmers either; one is made up of women who own small business and run small shops, another is made up entirely of people with HIV. This will provide me with a diverse workload which is great. I have also met with a  micro finance institution and a few schools to start figuring out how I can help with the agri-business and environmental education aspect of my job. Slowly but surely I am beginning to grasp a clue as to what I will be doing for two years. Hopefully something like the first project Douala Recycling.