Last Saturday I returned to Bangangte, which means “The Town Name Constantly Misspelled” in Medumba, after spending a week at my site. Well, actually I didn’t spend a week at my post in Bamena, but I circled around the town for seven days before spending all of two hours in the town itself. First, I spent three days in Bazou with David and Caitlin Hansen. I’m sort of replacing David as the local agroforestry volunteer, although my post is moving 20km down the road so that I can be closer to APADER. Then, I spent the next three days in Bangouwa, about 4k on a dirt road from my village, with my host-country counterpart Cinquante. Yes, his name is Fifty. If I were a real-estate agent in the States trying do describe his house, I would probably call it a "quaint, charming fixer-upper, with well-matched floor [dirt] and wall [mud brick] motifs and a lively atmosphere [chickens and mice inside, with the occasional goat making an appearance.]" The only thing that managed to wear thin on me were the baby chicks under the bed when I was trying to sleep, though. As Cinquante is a divorceé and as females do ALL of the cooking here, the cuisine was a little lacking… boiled yams with a side of boiled yams for dinner two nights in a row. Cinquante does have a very picturesque tree nursery though. Take a peek…
His business is mainly selling grafts and marcots of improved varieties of fruit trees. The nursery that he’s organized is actually a cooperative that he runs with his neighbors, including a few women, which is fairly unusual for here. His grafts have about an 80% success rate, depending on the species, whereas of the fifteen grafts that we volunteers did, one took. Haha. I worked with him one day potting on two hundred avocado plants to be used as grafting stocks, which was fun.
On the last day of my site visit, I finally got to visit my house, and it’s pretty nice. It’s on top of a mountain, so there are excellent views. I really wanted to take pictures, but it has been too cloudy the days I’ve been there. Being on top of a mountain also means that water isn’t pumped up that high, though, so there’s no running water. I do have electricity. Also, being at the top of a mountain means that my bike ride from Bangangte SUCKS. I did it yesterday, and I had to pull over no less than three times to cough and wheeze. The total elevation gain is about 300m over 10km, and it’s pretty much uninterrupted ascent. Luckily, the road is paved the whole way. The ride back to Bangangte is FUN!
So that’s my house, with my neighbor/landlord Mr. La Maire, who, despite his moniker, isn’t the mayor as far as I can tell. Strangely, I have a flush toilet to go with my no running water, so if I want to flush, I have to pour two gallons of water in the tank.. I think I’ll just be using the latrine. The bathtub under the gutter is my rainwater collection system and mosquito hatchery. Since I’m the first volunteer to live in the house, it is completely empty. The only thing in the whole house is a four-foot-tall picture of the guy that died in the house last year. His bedroom is sealed off, but I also have four other bedrooms. One of the bedrooms is going to become my "cuisine moderne” though, since the current kitchen is a fire in an out-building.
One of the best features of the house is the little garden out front…
Right now, my landlord has maize and taro planted, but he said I could plant it however I wanted. In the foreground of the picture is one of my two avocado trees. Behind it are my four banana trees, and then to the left is my mango tree. Not a bad assortment of fruit trees, I must say.
I don’t really feel like writing much else, but I’ll put up some more pictures…
A very old papaya tree… normally one prunes a tree before it gets this big because it’s impossible to harvest the fruits when they’re this big.
The one even marginal picture that I’ve been able to take of a hornbill, and it turns its head just before I take the picture so that you can’t see its horned bill. Blast.
Me and a farming community group, having just constructed a composting pit behind their piggery, which is a word in Cameroonian English.
Something really creepy that my 3-year-old host sister handed me.