When we arrived in Cameroon, we knew that we were only going to be in the capital for around six months or so until I settled on a project to work in. The last six months have been full of learning and growing, getting adjusted to life in Africa. We had to learn to live again really. At times it was really stressful. And sometimes we’ve even felt like saying, “Enough! Take me home!” It’s true that life is tricky no matter where you live and we must all rely on the Lord while doing the best we can, but Africa is…complicated. Almost every daily task requires an extra step. On top of that, we’re in the minority as whiteys. So, we stick out. We especially stick out–we haven’t quite figured out why–when we push the kids along in our double stroller. For starters, you never see strollers here. Also, white people are rare. White kids even more so. Thus, the combination of these three rarities attracts all sorts of attention. Everyone wants to know if the kids are twins. Do they look like they could be twins? Moving on…
Today starts chapter two in our Africa book. We successfully traversed Cameroon over two days, covering more than 1,000 km (~700 miles). The roads for the first half of the journey were exceptionally good thanks to the European Union who we hear helped foot the bill for the roadworks. Day two, it really hit the fan. The roads got worse and worse until there was really no more road. I mean, there was a road, but it was under construction, so we had to follow a worn-out path next to the road. Mile after mile we crawled along in low gear, bouncing like nobody’s business. It took us 8 1/2 hours to go 300 miles! That’s a distance that would only take 4 1/2 hours at 70 mph. I fearfully had my eye on the roof rack as I watched it sway to and fro as we dipped in and out ruts. Knowing how much weight was up there, it feels like a miracle that the rack didn’t give up the ghost somewhere in the bush. What would we have done? I don’t even want to think about. That’s why sometimes even we think we’re crazy.
There we were with all our worldly belongings loaded into and onto an SUV four-by-fouring along at a snail’s pace through rural Africa. What if something goes wrong? Don’t think about it and just drive. But watch out for other drivers who will not hesitate to borrow your lane as they come barreling towards you. Defensive driving like you’ve not experienced. Then there’s all the wildlife. Stop for this cow. Watch out for that donkey. There’s a goat. And a dog. Now a child. Mother hen and chicks. Bicycle with a load of wood. Boy pushing a cart. Flipped over dump truck. Burned out tractor trailer. Crunched up bush taxi. So many, “woah-look-at-that! moments.”
So, to arrive at our destination in the eye of the rooster (Cameroon is shaped like a rooster), we are grateful for God’s protection and your prayers. Thank you! The only mishap was the kids iPad running out of battery and having to listen to Henry shout “Movie!”‘
What I’ve described here might come across as really adventurous, but let me assure you, our life is pretty tame compared to some of our colleagues living in even tougher places in Africa. We have friends who just made a five day trek across the Sahara with two kids. When it got dark, they stopped, set up a tent, and slept à la belle étoile. Or, how about friends who are preparing to go back into a country without a government? That sounds crazy to us. We’re not afraid to draw the line and we draw the line at going into countries without a government. Does that make us wusses? So be it! =)
But you know what. We’re never as cool or adventurous or daring…or crazy as we think we are. But at the end of the day, you just gotta go for it, don’t you? And that reminds me, to everyone who’s been asking when they can come visit us, the time is now. Come on! Don’t let the above-mentioned trek turn you off; there’s an airport in the city where we are. You could fly right in. =)