19.02.2013 - 23.02.2013 33 °C
I arrived in Cameroon safely six days ago, flying from Toronto through Paris. After 17 hours of travelling, I wasn't exactly fresh, and I don't think I've been "fresh" for more than five minutes since. Toronto was rather cool so I was wearing tights under my pants for warmth when I left. When I got off the plane in Douala it was the expected 30+ degrees and 90% humidity but I could not find a toilet to change.
My local "fixer" Akobe Akomian who works with the www.thehumanityexchange.org was at the airport to pick me up, holding a sign with my name. I've always wanted someone to meet me at the airport like this as it makes one feel like some sort of celebrity.
Akobe and a driver, Guy, took me through Douala from the airport to the neighbourhood where I will be living for the next three months. All the things I had been told to expect were confirmed. The roads are bad, the traffic is crazy, and it is HOT. The traffic consists of many large trucks and passenger vehicles in various states of repair, hundreds of motorcycles with or without headlights (but definitely no helmets), and no traffic signals or road markings. There are no street signs and most of the roads aren't on any map. The most aggressive drivers get ahead and it isn't for the faint of heart. I wouldn't call it a pedestrian-friendly environment. Somehow most get where they are going, though I understand there are frequent accidents.
I arrived at the orphanage which is housing some volunteers in spare rooms. It was totally dark, as the neighbourhood was in the midst of one of the rolling blackouts that occur almost every evening. See photo of dinner by flashlight above.
I was greeted by many friendly children who never think it is too hot to hug. Despite the fact that I was still wearing those damn long johns I appreciated the warm welcome. Everyone has been very patient with my less than perfect French and many requests to "Repetez s'il vous plait".
There is much more to tell, but that is all for now.