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.