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Bamenda Bumblings | Nourish International

July 2, 2013 | Posted in 2013, Cameroon, Claremont, Summer Projects | By

Last Monday, we finally got the chance to travel to the mystical land of Bamenda! Bamenda is the region capital of the Northwest (you may remember reading about it before – we passed through it as we travelled from Douala to Fundong at the beginning). There have been so many instances in the last couple of weeks where we ask a question and the response is, “ooh, you can’t get that here – but you can in Bamenda.” So the anticipation was building as we planned our trip. Bamenda is usually about 2 hours away by taxi, so we planned to leave early Monday morning. Unfortunately, Morgan got some type of bug bite on her foot that was really painful, so we stopped by the Fundong hospital to get it checked out. She ended up getting a lot of pills and a shot, so we got on the road around 11am. It was a really an interesting experience because there were 7 of us plus the driver. Now, in the US, that would automatically mean that we would need two cars. However, as you have probably guessed by this point, here we only needed one car. And it was a little car. So, to do that, we had the four of us in the back plus two full-grown men in the passenger seat, and Alina, a Peace Corps Volunteer in a neighboring town, sharing a seat with the driver (this is called the “petit chauffeur;” I had the honor of riding petit chauffeur when we went to Lake Oku – since all of the cars here are clutches, whenever they shift into second, it is supremely painful). We switched taxis several times (finally, for the last one, Alina just laid across us in the backseat – I think it worked pretty well, although, Mom, if you’re reading this, I promise it was perfectly safe!). So, we finally arrived around 1:30 in Bamenda. We stopped at this delicious fair trade store. It was a two-part store, one of which was a café and one which was a gift shop. The food was so delicious – I got a Greek salad and a mango/banana smoothie, and it was so delicious. It was all made fresh and organic (granted, it took us an hour to get the order, but it was definitely worth it). While we waited, we bought all of the gifts we needed in the shop next door – they had masks and baskets and figurines and jewelry and everything. I won’t go into too much detail since some of you reading this I’m sure will be recipients of said gifts, but it was definitely a neat shop! After that, we proceeded to the fabric market. Let’s just say that it was overwhelming. Imagine walking into an entire street where every open front is just filled with at least 50 different fabrics, and then you have to go find the ones you want and haggle for good prices. It’s a tricky business and overwhelming, but luckily Alina was there to help us, and she’s something of a pro (she’s already had probably around 10 dresses made here). It’s awesome because the fabric isn’t too expensive, and then you can go and get it tailored into WHATEVER you want (as I’m writing this, we’re trying on some dresses/pants we had made, and Morgan is even making a romper!) for only about 2000 CFA ($4). It’s wonderful! So, after dragging everyone through that for a while, we made it to the supermarket (we got more oatmeal, chocolate, juice, jam, and more chocolate (Snickers, Twix, dark chocolate x 3, etc.). It was a store of wonders! After that, it was raining a lot, but we walked over to the outdoor market. As we were walking, I was next to Stephen and Alina, and a man walked up and asked how much we would be. I was shocked, but Stephen was good at handling it. He said that we would be 50,000,000 CFA for the two of us (and it is 500 CFA for $1, so that is a lot a lot of money). We teased him a lot that he was willing to sell us for that, but he assured us that if the man had actually paid, he would have hired a mini force to come and rescue us and still have money left over to spare, so we accepted it.

The outdoor market was huge and with so much variety! There was lettuce and zucchini and green beans and eggplant and ginger and all of these other goodies. It was really neat! Afterwards, it was already getting late and dark (and it was still raining – a woman offered me a small plastic bag to wear on my head to keep my hair dry!), so we knew it was time to head back. Instead of taking a taxi, we got into an 8-person bus (which, of course, actually held 17 people – it was a fun ride back) and got back to Fundong around 10pm. When we got back, we were dedicated and we came back to the house and made up a lovely pasta dish. All in all, it was a fun adventure to Bamenda, and very productive! We’re now all really excited to make some clothes, to have all of our shopping done (because while it was fun, we’re all definitely excited to be done buying things), to have some new delicious goodies to eat, and more.

 

After seeing how excited we were on that trip, I think it’s safe to say that we will be more grateful now for some of the perks in the US that we don’t even think about, like being able to by oatmeal and chocolate in a store and being able to find a wide variety of fresh vegetables anywhere. But we’re absolutely loving our little town of Fundong and our adventures into Cameroon at large!

 

I’ll also put out a little RIP for my dog, Fritz, who I discovered 2 days ago died while I’m here in Cameroon. I love you and miss you, Fritzy!

 

Love,

Nathalie

PS – we apologize for the lack of pictures thus far! It isn’t that we aren’t taking a lot of high quality pictures, let me assure you, but instead the fact that we don’t have reliable internet access, so often our attempts to upload the photos ends in failure. But we’re working on it, slowly but surely!

1 Comment

  1. unmchapter
    July 3, 2013

    Leave a Reply

    The OSU/UNM chapter has to agree that the Prescafe was great! + We might have met Alina was there? (definitely a passing Peace Corps volunteer, awaiting a Nourish chapter’s arrival). Good luck everyone!

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