Saturday, March 26, 2016

Joys Lare and Small

Yesterday was Good Friday; the day we remember Jesus’ death on the cross.  Crucifixion was a horrible way to die – to hang on a cross, usually for days, with nails holding the the limbs in place, and death coming most often by suffocation as the arms can no longer hold the body up so that the lungs can function.  The news is again full of death recently – horrible death from terrorists bombs and from uncounted shootings.  How is all of this related to joy?
Christians know.  Jesus died on the cross after three hours and then rose from the dead on the third   This is joy.  To know that Jesus took on this horrendous death so that we could be saved. 

There is also joy in art.  This picture from the internet shows Salvador Dali’s rendering of the crucifixion.  For me this provides joy in the sadness.

Joy comes in lots of other ways, too, in Garoua Boulai.  We can get most basic foods here in the market for which I am grateful.  Some things, though, are rarely, if ever, here.  I found chamomile tea in the Total gas station store the other day!  Yeah.  A couple of store have also had corn flakes recently – a nice change of pace food.  I found chocolate in the store, too, so I can have some for Easter – along with my hard boiled eggs (always available).  The chocolate is from France and Oman, not Cameroon which produces a lot of the product, but chocolate is a US tradition for the holiday, so I bought some.  I didn’t dye the eggs, mostly from laziness, but also because brown eggs don’t show the color as well.  Still, I will have connections to my home traditions tomorrow.

My friend, Sani, has been joyful all week because his wife had their first baby, a little girl he named Soumayyatou-Smith.  Mother and baby are both healthy.  Her they are 1 ½ days after birth. 

I am also joyful to see the rains come back with the accompanying green.  There are even a couple more amaryllis flowers under my heavily-laden mango tree out back.  My mangos are not yet ripe, but I can find some in the market ready to eat.  Yum.
It was a joy to meet Dr. Max, the German ear, nose and throat doctor who works at the Lutheran hospital in N’gaoundéré.  He periodically goes to other hospitals to provide care that is not available in their towns.  He stayed with me because UNHCR workers had filled the other guest houses.  What a pleasure to get to   This picture is at a local restaurant with the doctors and other notables from the hospital in GB.  (I got invited along for the ride – and enjoyed catching up with some people I hadn’t seen for a while – even if we live in the same town and concession…
know him and to chat about a whole range of topics!

May your Easter be full of joy – even if it comes in small ways amid hardships.  It is there if we look for it.  And, in a time of much violence and negativity it is important to keep our eyes open for whatever brings us hope and joy.

P.S.  Anyone know what this bug is?  He came to visit the other day, but I put him back outside…

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

IWD Dust Table Crows

Today is International Women's Day.  Celebrate the achievements of women and work to make gender equality a reality.  IWD is a much bigger holiday in Cameroon than the USA.  Each year a special commemorative cloth is made in two different colors; this year’s theme is “All united against terrorism.”  Here’s a picture of me in a dress made of that cloth. 

There was a parade today, but I chose not to go.  Actually, I headed that direction, but ended up chatting with shop keeper friends and never made it.  I’ve never been very fond of parades anyway.  On Sunday (March 6) the mayor and local women’s organization hosted an event at town hall.  Women prepared and sold typical dishes from around Cameroon.  I have a very interesting one with chicken, plantains, carrots, green beans and other things.  Quite good.

There was also a program of 25 local groups of women singing and dancing.  As I have mentioned before, the tradition is to put money on the singers’/dancers’ heads to show appreciation.  In a program like this, the donor often dances up and maybe dances with the presenters for a bit.  The mayor and sous-prefet both danced with several groups.  Here’s the sous-prefet (the one in the suit on the left) and his assistant dancing with a group of traditional Gbaya dancers.  The other picture is the mayor siting in the audience as the program got underway.  Yes, I did dance up once to the pleasure of the singer (one woman) and much of the audience.  (No picture of that since I was dancing, but the official photographer for the event snapped us.  I might see it sometime in the future...)

It has not rained again since the hard rain I mentioned last week.  This is not surprising, but I am a little surprised how much that one downpour helped cut the ever-present dry season dust.  It is still around, but much less is kicked up on the dirt road – for the moment. 

My table is fixed.  I talked to a carpenter friend in town who said that waiting for it to go back down could make the situation worse so he came to the house to look at it.  It turns out that the one supporting brace has cured out allowing the wooden slats that held the table top in place to loosen,   He did some repositioning of slats and pounded a few nails.  The table is back to its normal form. J
now unable to hold that side of the table in place.

Can you guess what this picture is?  Worm?  No, it is the rubber part of the car’s windshield wiper.  Crows must think it is a worm.  This is not the first time I have found the rubber piece on the ground, plucked out of the wiper.  It hasn’t happened for quite some time since the car is now parked under the veranda/car port.  But, there it was the other day when I was leaving the house.  Cheeky birds! 

End violence against women.  Support equal pay for equal work.  Encourage girls (and women) to become better educated.  Let’s make the world a better place for everyone.  “Listen to the women for a change.”  (That’s a WILPF slogan that I appreciate.)

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Dust, Dust, Dust, Mud

It rained!  In the USA seasons are so different and in most parts of the country precipitation falls year round (rain, snow, sleet…).  It hasn’t rained here for four months or so.  While it is a little early for the rainy season to have come back fully, it rained yesterday – starting with a bang!

OK, Tuesday we also heard some distant thunder and raindrops fell for a few minutes wetting some parts of the ground, but yesterday the thunder started and mid-afternoon the heavens opened and it poured!  We had lightning as well.  In fact, it was close enough early on to trip the whole-house circuit breaker at my house.  (I easily restored power by pushing the right button – after the storm had passed.)

I went to the market this morning and it was amazing to see the number of huge puddles and areas with an inch or more of mud.  I slipped a couple of times and did a lot of walking around the mud and puddles. 

Wow.  For months, dust has coated everything and the humidity has been very low.  Now walking in town means skirting little lakes and tons of mud.  I am sure that part of the reason is that the ground   Later in the rainy season the same lakes and mud will be around because the ground has soaked up all it can.  This picture is a new “bird bath” that appeared in the middle of the road near my house.  (I didn’t think to take pictures of the serious mud at the market this morning.)  I think the seasons here should be renamed – dust and mud. 
has become so hard and dried out that the rain did not soak in at all.

So this is the time to plant yams.  Still too early to plant peanuts and corn, but it is the time to prepare the ground to restart the growth cycle.

There are other signs that the rains are coming back.  Mangos are getting bigger and will soon be ripe.  (I have said this before, but will repeat: it is counter-intuitive to me that mangos ripen when there is no water/rain.  This is a juicy fruit and trees produce hundreds or even thousands.  The tree roots must go deep into the earth to find the moisture they need.)

Some flowers are blooming.  There is a tree with pretty purple flowers just outside my house.  The flowers produce a very cloying scent – almost overpowering.  These orange flowers also are blooming near my house.  And, in the background for most of the morning is the sound of a multitude of insects.  It seems to be surround sound!  In the heat of the day they fall quiet (fortunately).  Will they today when it is not so hot?  I hope so!  I also believe (and hope) that the iiiiiiiii sound will not last too many days since it is most likely mating calls.  Here’s a short video of the tree flowers moving in the gentle breeze with insects in the background. 

Another way that I can tell that the seasons are changing is my dining room/office table.  Now that the humidity is significantly increased, the table top has bowed.  I remember this happening last year,   It will go back to being almost level in time.  

In many places in the US spring is coming.  May you enjoy the green and re-awakening of the natural world as I am with the return of the rains.