First things first: A handful of you folks coming in on the new stage in June 2009 have contacted me through my blog here and there. I'm more than willing to help you out as much as I'm able. Problem is, if you contact me through the blog, I have no way of getting back to you. So drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org so I can reply back to you. If you've already asked me a question, shoot it over to my email so I can get back to you directly. Thanks and get excited, Cameroon is an awesome country.
Now for a little mini-update: I don't know what it is, but for some reason strange things always happen to me when I'm trying to bathe au Cameroun. As you probably already know, I'm without running water. As a result, I get mon eau by sending kids out with these big yellow jugs that I have to fetch it from a source of which I'd probably rather remain ignorant. Case in point: the other day my buddies Boris and Jordan come back with two bidongs full of water. I give them a bit of food money and send them off. After locking up I fill up my bucket with water and disrobe for a bucket bath. I start singing showtunes and dip my hands in the bucket to commence when what do I see...
A prodigious pack of polliwogs. There had to be a dozen or two tadpoles just loving life in my bathtub. After months of bush taxis* and Cameroonian "customer service," my threshold for annoyance has reached a level previously unheard of for a Browning male. All I could do is laugh. In June, or maybe even in August I would have tossed the water. But the sun was going down and I felt particularly grimy that day, so I just fished the little buggers out and lathered up. C'est la vie.
In case you were wondering, all tadpoles are currently alive and thriving in a water bottle out in my backyard. I'm hoping to farm them and grow them into frogs big enough to eat. Am I kidding? I might be kidding. (I'm not kidding).
*Part 2: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Mbouda
Okay so I guess this update isn't going to be as mini as I thought. But I figured you'd enjoy this story too, if only out of schadenfreude.
So I'm making my merry way to Mbouda to pick up some odds and ends. The taxi I took was particularly packed. Four up front including the driver, six in the back including myself. Two were about 10 or 11 years old sitting on their mother's laps. The smell of palm wine or raffia or whatever was pungent... It stung the nostrils. I'm not gonna lie it smelled like pure gasoline. Actually, that's inaccurate. Raffia/palm wine smells like a mixture of gasoline, rotten salad dressing, and body odor. Although that last bit may have just been the bouquet of the nine perspiring Cameroonians in the car with me. Regardless of its source, the smell of this vehicle was... incapacitating.
Anyway, I'm sitting with a tissue over my nose trying to filter out the funk, when I look to my right and see the woman next to me holding on to four thumb-sized beetles, squirming feebly in her grasp. I'm not exaggerating about how huge they were either. If beetles had theme parks, these guys would have been "This Tall!" enough to ride the roller coasters. So being a total schmuck, I venture to ask the woman "Ces sont pour qoui?" (Basically 'what the hell are you going to do with those?!" in my awful French) She laughs at me, picks out out one of the four (who we'll call Kenny) and bites the poor bastard in half. I sat there with my jaw dropped and my stomach turning while the rest of women in the back seat just laughed at me.
I really thought I'd vomit. Stan, Kyle, and Cartman were still squirming away, the oppressive heat, the smell of rancid Hidden Valley ranch in the air... But somehow I kept it together and did my best to laugh along at my naivete with the mamas.
The kid sitting on his mother's lap to my left wasn't so lucky.
I've seen projectile vomit in my day. I mean, I went to college. I did my share of binge drinking. I've seen acts of regurgitation that were worthy of note. Remember the time Veliz puked on our rug sophomore year and I had to cut a 2'x2' hole out of the middle of it with a pocket knife? Well, little homie to my left put Danny Boy to shame. This was straight Exorcist stuff right here. Sparing you all the details, the shear volume and velocity of this kid's emission had just about everybody in the damn vehicle sporting some spew. I mean everybody. I'm pretty sure some got in the glove box, don't ask me how. How this didn't start one of those epic "Oh-my-god-he-just-puked-now-I'm-gonna-puke-oh-my-god-now-he's-puking-now-we're-all-puking" scenes is beyond me. We pulled over and cleaned ourselves off as best as we could with twigs and grass and stuff.
At this point I was pretty much done with the expedition. I decided to just hoof it back home. It took me about an hour to walk it, and I was pretty tired by the time I got back. It had been a really hot day and I probably walked 3-4 miles back home in the noon heat. All I wanted was a glass of water. Of course, however, my water filter was empty. So in my exhaustion, I had to hump it out back and fill it up with some of my reserve water. I carry the filter back into the kitchen, and it just so happened that I took a peek inside before I put the cover back on.
It was full of tadpoles.