In March my parents came to visit me in Cameroon. I was glad to have visitors and I feel it was an eye opening experience for my parents.
I picked up my mother and father at the airport in the capital city, Yaounde, located in the French speaking majority of the country. There I showed them what I perceived were the western luxuries of the capital, though for someone coming from the US I saw what I saw to be luxurious really wasn’t. We saw the neighbourhoods I most often frequent while in Yaounde, my favourite bakeries, restaurants, walks, and sites. I arranged transport for us to travel to a primate reserve outside of the capital which was a very interesting experience. Although primates live in Cameroon, I had never seen a live one before due to excessive hunting.
After Yaounde we travelled to my post the capital city of Bamenda, which is located in the English speaking North West Region. Travel took about 7 hours by bus. This was a great part of the trip because my parents were able to meet my friends, neighbours, and colleagues without needing me as an interpreter. I saw able to show my parents the Teacher Resource Centre, the two vocational schools, and the university where I teach. In addition, my parents were able to sit in on one of my university courses at Bamenda University of Science and Technology. Some of my university students and several professors treated us to lunch at a restaurant owned by student of mine, where my parents were able to try some of my favourite traditional foods.
We also took a trip to a small village named Ewoh about an hour outside of Bamenda, to show my parents a less developed and more representative view of Cameroon than the two cities. Travelling to Ewoh requires taking a “bush taxi,” a sedan with 7 passengers and a driver, and then a motorcycle for the last stretch. The motorcycle taxi rides were a very big change for my parents. We met my friend and fellow PCV Josh in his small village of about 500 people where he showed us his high school and where we drank palm wine, a traditional alcoholic beverage. This gave my parents a very good representation of village life in Cameroon, and the stark contrast between urban and rural poverty.
The last part of our trip we travelled to Limbe, a beach town in the South West Region. This required another 8 hour bus trip. Here we stayed in a wonderful secluded and quiet hotel about 30 minutes outside of town. Limbe is striking for its volcanic black beaches and looming mountains. We had a great time just relaxing on the beach, taking hikes, and enjoying wonderful seafood. We met several other ex pats who were willing to talk about their experiences in Cameroon with my parents as well.
Finally one last bush taxi ride brought us to Douala, the largest city in Cameroon, where we said good bye at the air port. Overall it was wonderful seeing my family again and sharing my experiences with them, who now have a much better picture of my time in Cameroon.