Published: March 9th 2011
March 9th 2011
Our journey to work is one of the things we will definitely not miss about Douala. Every morning we head off in a shell of a car, you would be astounded to see the state a taxi can be in and yet still run. One morning our taxi seemed to break down and our driver signaled to the taxi behind to ram into the back of us, he kindly obliged and before you knew it we were off again. Aside from the taxis, the journey is not helped by the fact that we have to go through one of the busiest areas of the whole city (Dkoti) to get to the school. Taxi drivers even sometimes refuse to go there. The volume of traffic when we get close is unbelievable, not helped by the narrow roads, diabolical driving and police directing traffic (who actually make it worse). Then once we get to Dkoti, having already taken 2 taxis, we have to walk through the centre of it before we can get another taxi to the school. This is possibly the most traumatic part. There are cars and motorbikes everywhere so crossing the road requires much concentration, people constantly trying to get
our attention and then men consistently attempting to touch my arm, whilst we are also trying to dodge all sorts of things strewn across the pavement, mainly urine. It is a gauntlet. It is an awful place. I will point out that none of this goes on anywhere else, not as severely anyway.
Barack Obama is quite celebrated here with lots of bars and shops named after him. One day I was helping one of the kids change into his PE kit and he was wearing Barack Obama boxer shorts. Since then, I have noticed many being sold at markets. Street sellers are quite interesting, if they don’t have a stall they walk around with the product they are selling on their head, for example, if someone is selling trainers they will just wander around with a shoe on their head.
Work is going very slowly, mainly because everyone takes a really laid back approach to it. For example, we had a meeting with the 3 main members of staff and told them that if they had a project in mind for the school we would be interested in writing a grant proposal for them. We had already got all the relevant information we needed before the meeting, I presented it to them and informed them of the things they would need to give us in order to complete the proposal, they said they would have it to us in 4 days…we got it after 3 weeks (uncompleted) and it was all 4 years out of date, so they had actually done nothing. Another example is buying the internet. You have to go to an office to buy it. We walked in and the entire office is sat watching television from their desks and doing any menial task possible before coming to attend to you. Customers just accept this and are watching the TV with them. You can’t say anything either because no one would understand why you were annoyed, instead it sends you into an internal frenzy of anger and frustration. I admire that they have such a relaxed approach to work, however, we just can’t seem to adapt to it.
Some good news though is that we did manage to secure 2 computers for the children through a company that provide them to schools in Africa for a fraction of their price, so those of you who have donated already that is what your money has gone towards - thanks!
Outings these past few weeks included another trip to Limbé. We went to the beach with the founder of Le Caméléon and her daughter. It is so nice to get away from the city. The beach was quiet and it was very relaxing indeed.
Yesterday was International Women’s Day. All the women wore either the green or pink version of the dress all day. In the evening I went out with maman’s daughters to celebrate, it was good fun, they certainly enjoy a bit of a dance.
Maman has bought Steve, the rabbit, a wife, Cindy! It was all very exciting when she arrived. Not sure that the baby situation, which is inevitable, has really been thought through though.