Well, after about two weeks, Shaun and I are both back in Bafia after each spending a week in Nkongsamba for our site visits. We are both very happy that in 34 (hopefully short) days we will be back and moving into our home for the next two years.
While traveling between Bafia and Nkongsamba, I was surprised at how lush, green, and hilly Cameroon is. The vegetation reminded me a lot of South East Asia, and I wasn’t expecting to see that while we were in Africa! Nkongsamba is a beautiful place, that is surrounded by green hills/mountains. They look different each day, as the cloud cover and light always changes. From our patio at our house, we have a great view of the mountain that serves as Nkongsamba’s back drop.
The purpose of our week long site visit was to get a feel for our new home, open our bank accounts, and to meet with our counterpart, who is a Cameroonian local that we will be working with. Shaun will be teaching at ISMAM – it is a technical training school for business and management education. He will start teaching English and may expand his classes as well. My counterpart is named Jacque, he manages the Metch Center, which is an advanced business school in Nkongsamba for entrepreneurs and business managers. Jacque is well-known in the Peace Corps Community as one of the best counterparts you could ask for – – we aren’t complaining! He is very proactive, forward thinking, and hard-working. I will be working some at the Metch Center doing business advising with some of the entrepreneurial students, and will hopefully also be working with women’s groups and doing income generating activities. We are both quite excited to begin our work.
Another major activity of the site visit week was to visit our house. While the first impression is less than impressive, we made great strides this week with our housing situation. We have a three bedroom house, with one bathroom, kitchen, and a giant living room. Like most houses in Nkongsamba, it is very old and in need of some TLC. After Shaun initially saw the house there were some obvious pros and some obvious cons…Pros: it is very close to town and the market, it is more than enough space for us, there is a big wrap-around patio outside and green space for us to garden and plant flowers, and, it has the potential to be really cool given the repairs. Cons: It is old, in a desperate need of a paint job, and needs some repairs throughout the house. Given our concerns, Jacque arranged a meeting for me to meet the landlord the following week while I was in Nkongsamba, and I am really glad we did. He already acknowledged all of the repairs, and agreed to paint the entire house for us! Almost all of the cons are now eliminated, and when I met with Jacque yesterday afternoon, he said that he stopped by our house and found the living room full of tools, paint, and equipment, so the landlord is hard at work. That being said, we will have plenty of space for visitors!
And, one of the final highlights of the trip was discovering how much access we have to different things in Nkongsamba. Nkongsamba is located off of one of the national highways so it is very easy to “hitchhike” to various cities in Cameroon, making visiting other volunteers and seeing the country very easy to do. It also has a huge fruit and vegetable market, with more food than I have seen in Cameroon. We will be able to eat well and have a healthy diet as there is a lot available. And lastly, there are good restaurants, a super market, and vendors in town.
When we were talking the other night, we both agreed that things here in Cameroon seem to be working out very well for us, and we are very excited to set up our home and our daily life here.