It is great to finally be here and I have received such a wonderful welcome from PFPF and Nzene Sylvester’s family! Everyone has been so gracious – I was promptly picked up at the airport, driven through festive and frenetic Douala, into the countryside by rubber, banana, palm tree, and sugar cane plantations to the city of Kumba in the Southwest Province. Nzene’s family lives in Kumba, and greeted us with a lovely meal of fish, rice, fufu, beer and soda. Fufu is new to me – it is a soft ball of ground corn, coco yam, or cassava flour that has been boiled with water. You squeeeze off bits and dip them into whatever sauce or stew one is eating.
Nzene has a wonderful garden in his yard, which includes corn, plantains, ochre, lemongrass (for tea), ginger, sugar cane, and other vegetable plants. He also has a chicken coop, currently with 3 noisy chickens.
It is definitely hot and humid here, but I am starting to adjust. Last night we took a driving tour of Kumba which is the largest city in the Southwest province. At the end of our tour we stopped at an outdoor bar for drinks and conversation. We talked about Cameroonian culture and the politics; the differences between America and Cameroon and about what we have to learn from each other. While it was a sprawling conversation, two of the things that we agreed on was that Americans could take a lesson from Cameroonians on looking after ones neighbors and extended family, and Cameroonians could take a lesson from American’s belief in hard work and the ability to change ones circumstances. I’m sure we will have many more of these conversations over the next two months.
This afternoon we will head to Bangem, where the headquarters of PFPF is located. We’ll create a plan for the next weeks and months, and I’ll get oriented to the area and the people of Bangem. I look forward to getting my first look at the world of Cameroonian farming, and the supposedly cooler weather in Bangem!