Saturday, January 29, 2011

So Many Firsts

Since I knew I wouldn’t be able to post right away, I have been jotting down notes in what now amounts to a collection of memorable moments from the first few days in Cameroon. As a result this is a lengthy post and I apologize in advance.

I got my first (and somewhat abrupt) introduction to Cameroonian family responsibility on the flight to Yaoundé when the woman in the seat behind me thrust her infant into my lap without any kind of explanation. Once she was halfway down the aisle, I realized she just needed to use the bathroom and I was the nearest potential babysitter. Although I was caught off guard, the kid was precious and he could have sat with me the whole way there. I’m actually hoping that there will be more spontaneous child cuddling during my semester.

Also on the plane, secret documents on my computer and letters read over the Atlantic brought a smile to my face from home.

Flying over the Alps was beautiful!

I can hardly remember what happened the first day of orientation. It’s just a blur of information, laughter, beautiful scenery, more laughter, and eating a lot of delicious things that I couldn’t really identify. But after almost week in Cameroon I am already a pro at bucket flushing a toilet and taking showers in water that is nothing less than “brrrrrzles.”
Me at the monastery where we stayed for orientation; in the valley behind me is some of the city of Yaoundé.
View from my room at the Monastery.

On Thursday we were dropped off in pairs around the city of Yaoundé, which sprawls for miles! I have never been so confused or directionally challenged in my life. Fortunately, my partner had a better idea of where we were. “Firsts” during that excursion: first time hailing a cab, first time being called “blanche,” first time in a hectic Cameroonian market, and first time in a cyber café. I wish I had pictures of all of these things to post, but we have been advised to keep our cameras hidden for awhile because pulling out valuable items in public makes you a bigger target for theft.

Friday was the first day at the SIT office. It is an open and airy house on a quiet street outside the hustle and bustle of “le centre ville.” There are 14 students on the program and this is where we will take our classes, prepare for the independent study, and spend some of our free time.
SIT Office
Things are still a little bit surreal, but I’m having a great time.
Next on the agenda: homestays.


  1. Rachel Marie,
    What a delight to hear from you! When I yelled e-mail from Rachel even the cat came running! Honey you left just in time to miss the second coming Snowpocalypse jr. we are buried look on my Fb to see Pics. Sounds like things are well and you have a great family to live with. Wore a scarf of yours to school today got lots of compliments...what will I wear of yours on Monday. Enjoy. Awesome blog thoughts. Mom

  2. Daddy and I are so thrilled to hear every detail. You look. great and we love your shoulder bag. Can't wait to meet your home stay family. Lovely that there is a little one for you to snuggle. Looking forward to our first skype. God Bless we love you!

  3. Grandpa John and Grandma HazelJanuary 29, 2011 at 4:40 PM

    DearRachel, Thanks for your interesting andexcitimng comment and [pictures of Cameroon. Youare settling in very nicely. We are so happy for you. God blees you and keep you in His love and care. Lots of love Grandpa & Grandma

  4. So happy to hear that you have a good start on the adventure! I believe that "surreal" may be a good catchword for you for a long time. Enjoy.

    BTW, check the Hope sports news for the story on the men's big comeback win against the other school yesterday. Exciting stuff!!

    Blessings on your day. MDY