Sunday, December 16, 2012

La Vie en Ville

I have moved my post.  Although I am still in the South, I am no longer in the bush (or "en brusse").  I have moved to the city.  Since the move, I suppose one could say that I no longer am doing the "traditional" Peace Corps experience of roughing it "au village".  Some may say that I'm now Posh Corps.  That's probably true to some extent.  Here's some comparisons between my old post and new post:

1)  Old post -- small town.  Maybe 5,000 people at most.
    New post -- A city.  Maybe 45,000 people.  That may or may not be a good thing.  More people means more people who will try to annoy you. 

2)  Old post -- electricity was rare.  We would have months without electricity.
    New post -- Electricity almost everyday.  It may disappear for a few hours, but always comes back the same day.

3)  Old post -- overloaded bush taxis to Ebolowa, the second closest city, about 100 km.  The closest city, Sangmelima, is about 65 km, but bush taxis don't go there.  One would have to take a motorcycle.  In the bush taxi, people sometimes sat on people's laps or would sit in the trunk or on top of the vehicle.  Here's a photo of me sitting in the trunk of a bush taxi, which had 16 people at the time (4 people in the front seat, 8 people in the backseat, and 4 people in the trunk):

New post -- Buses are relatively comfortable.  So far, no one has sat on my lap or vice versa. 

4)  Old post -- dirt road to the city, although the road to Sangmelima is currently being paved.  I've had to get out of the vehicle several times to help push it out of the mud.
  New post -- paved road to nearest city.

5)  Old post -- I was one of two non-Cameroonians in town.  Well, there's more non-Cameroonians if you count some merchants from Niger.  Here I am with Abdul, one of the merchants:

    New post -- there's another Peace Corps volunteer in the city and there's also a French-owned fancy hotel with a swimming pool and wifi.  There's probably other non-Cameroonians, but I haven't met them yet. 

6)  Old post -- One cellphone network, which went out for about 7 months.
    New post -- At least two cellphone networks here and I'm sure a third one also works. 

7)  Old post -- no internet.  Although I suppose I could've tried a wireless key, but that only worked if the cellphone network was working, which wasn't for most of my time there. 
    New post -- about 3 internet cafés and one could purchase a wireless key from 2-3 cellphone networks.  The network also allows me to use my cellphone to access the internet. 

8)  Old post -- I had a pretty big house -- 3 bedrooms, a living room, and a kitchen.  Here's a photo of me in my living room with my friend, Alino:

We appear to be pretending to read something. 

The only thing not posh about the house was that I used a latrine.  Compared to people in town, that latrine was pretty posh though (i.e. it wasn't just 4 walls of corrugated aluminum slapped together with an uncovered pit).
    New post -- I share the house with a family and another renter, so that's 3 separate units in one house.  I have a bedroom, a living room, an indoor bathroom, with an outdoor kitchen being constructed.  Not as posh as the one at my old post. 

9)  Old post -- lack of vegetables.  Probably one of the things that I wish my old post had was more variety of vegetables.  Pretty much all they had were tomatoes, onions, ginger, bananas and plantains.  Sometimes avocados or celery, pineapples rarely.
New post -- vegetables (especially pineapples) aplenty.

So those are some of the differences between the two posts.  How will the next year turn out at my new post?  On va voir!