This is Patrick sitting in for Kim with today’s blog post. She’s asked me to tell you about our weekend at the beach. I think an illustrative story would be a good way to give you a feel for the weekend and really all of our Africa travel experiences so far.
Our first night in Limbe I walked into a hotel at dinner time to see if they had a restaurant. Kim and her mom were in the car with Aydan.
Me: Hi, do you have a restaurant here?
Desk lady: Yes we do
Me: Great (looking around), where is it?
Desk lady: When do you need it?
Me: (confused) Um… now would be good.
Desk Lady: (Silence)
Me: Is that a problem?
Desk Lady: We have a small technical problem in the kitchen.
Many of our experiences here have been come with a heavy dose of contrasts. The beach outside our hotel room was beautiful, but strewn with trash. The hotel was quite nice. But the DVD player, hot tub, minifridge, gate to the beach, curtains and stove didn’t work. These highlight a major contrast we’ve seen: while people here are quite ingenious about reusing items and letting nothing go to waste, very little is really maintained. There’s very little spent to fix something or replace a broken part. The idea that the DVD player, fridge, and curtains in a room could all be broken did not bother hotel management in the least. Perhaps they intend to fix them someday, perhaps not.
We visited the Botanical Gardens- it came highly recommended by our guard. The gardens were expansive and many of the trees quite beautiful. But again, most of it was overgrown. Some of the grass had been recently cut but making the place presentable didn’t seem like a real priority. A sign in front of the amphitheater said it had recently been restored. The sign must have been a few years old because the whole place was overgrown with moss and vines. Granted, in this climate moss and vines will take over anything that sits still for a few minutes, but still. As we were leaving the park we saw an old children’s play set that had fallen over. Next to the set was a nice new sign of metal and wood that had been helpfully erected. “Temporarily Out of Use for Children”. I am sure that putting the sign up took more effort than hauling away the broken play set would have.
I didn’t stick around at the restaurant to ask when they’d be up and running because I couldn’t see it happening any time soon.
Cameroon is a beautiful country and we’re glad to live here right now. But I feel like there are major parts of the culture and mindset that I don’t understand.
Kim insists that I actually tell you what we did this weekend, so here goes. Kim and her mom and Aydan came with me to Douala and hung out while I worked for two days. Then we headed to Limbe and the beach for a three day weekend. We stayed at the above mentioned hotel which, broken amenities aside, was a nice hotel in a gorgeous location. We did one day on the black sand beach (Aydan still hates the sand) and one day in Limbe visiting the gardens, the waterfront, and the wild animal park. It was a nice weekend although the drive on each end was pretty grueling.
It was nice to get home but I’m sure in a week or two we’ll be looking to head out somewhere again.
Nice oil rig in the photo. Is that the only reason the US is in west Africa? Sorry for the bluntness.
This all sounds very familiar and you both put it into words so nicely. Well done and thanks for doing this blog! It is great to see your beautiful faces.
It reminds me of the time we went on a beach walk in Nigeria that was littered with droplets of raw crude oil, garbage, and a dead goat. One of my jobs when sailing at the Lagos Yacht Club (which I really enjoyed – it kept my mind learning something new) was sweeping my hand down the rudder while we were underway to swipe the garbage – typically plastic bags – off of the rudder. I did get some cool photographs.
Super interesting post (and funny as usual).
Also, great choice for the picture at the top of the blog.
Hi Patrick and Kim, I just wanted to let you know that I love reading your posts and looking at your pictures. Thinking of and praying for you.
Hi Kim and Patrick,
I really like reading your blog. It’s nice to see the pictures of your lovely family and your writings are always interesting. I appreciate Kim’s view on everything and the sense of humor that she shows in the texts. I’m writing you to ask, if it would be possible to write about the challenges a diplomat’s wife faces. I mean, your daily routine, the idea of never living anywhere for long time. Does it frustrate you sometimes? How often do you get to visit friends or family back home? What do you think will happen, when your child has to leave school and friends to move away? How do you cope with that? What is the most difficult thing for you, besides living far away from family? Are there days where you regret living, for example, in Africa?
I confess, I was always fascinated by the career of diplomats. For a very short time, I even thought of becoming one. I gave up, and had forgotten this idea, until I met someone who will become a diplomat. Now I’ll have to chose, if I follow him or not.
You wrote in one of your posts about “trailing spouses”. I pretty much feel the same. I am a teacher and always dreamed of becoming a mom. It’s not about living someones dream, it’s part of my dream. I’ve made career in the country I’m living, but family is much more important to me. I grew up bilingual and was always fascinated by different cultures and loved traveling. I have family in many different countries and I am used to be far away…anyway. I just wanted to tell you, that your blog has been very helpful to me, and I would be very thankful if you could write something about the challenges you face everyday.
Thanks a lot! German greetings from Brazil!