Thursday, September 25, 2008

French Connection

Although Kate left my house this week, I continue to have my fill of white people in my day, thanks to the French volunteers here. Juliete and Greg are my new best friends, and I am theirs. Reason? They are my age, both 22, and finishing their university degree but spending 6 months each doing an internship here in fishery. They speak really great English, but are very patient and speak French with me when possible. They also break and switch to English when it gets tiring. Furthermore, we go nuts over French coffee, Nutella, peanut butter and all things “western” together.

Greg has been in the village for 4 months, and Juliete just arrived recently, comme moi. They both live in the same host family that is much more “primitive” than the one I had in Bangangté. Yesterday, I met them for lunch in the omelet shack in town and then Greg took us to this “bar” that has couches and had a drink while the rain pours. It’s a new place that I have yet ventured to, and each new business I encounter is a new possibility for work. Afterwards, we went to their house for French coffee. Juliete brought this little one person Italian espresso maker that are designed for camping. It makes one cup – one little European cup, not a giant mug of American cup. The device requires to be put over fire, and since the house doesn’t have a stove, we hung out in their kitchen, which is a room with wood burning fire. The house had what seem to be endless amount of kids running around, both kids that live there and the neighbors. There was a girl who’s about 10 years old that saw me and her eyes opened so wide you’d think she saw Santa Clause (if she believes in that). Either way, I am pretty sure it was the very first time she’s ever seen a Chinese person and she was so excited. To her, I was some sort of creature that you only hear about and never see. I think that’s a difficult concept for Americans to grasp, since there is just about every kind of person to see in the US. Anyhow, she sat in a stool across from me and just stared at me with a big goofy smile, and then started asking me a few questions. That was really kind of cute.

Today, after a somewhat frustrating day of visiting a GIC, the three of us had a crêpe party. I’ve been making crêpes from my cookbook, but they were nowhere close to the real French goodness. Luckily, I had two natives here showing me how it’s done. The two of them gave my recipe a twist and then showed me how to make them thin and yummy on a skillet. I can now confidently say that I can replicate some mean, authentic French crêpes! We indulged with Nutella (thanks Tom), Jif’s peanut butter (thanks mom) and bananas. The two of them were so excited to see Nutella just as the first time I ate Snickers bar in this country. Also, in case you don’t know, peanut butter is an American phenomenon. People outside of the US do not eat peanut butter like we do. That was the case when I was in London, when my English friends have never had a PB&J sandwich. Greg also had only tasted PB once a long time ago. He gave it another try today and loved it. He said, “My taste was not developed.”

All in all, I am doing lots of culture exchanges these days, but not always with the Cameroonians. I am, however, bridging cultures! I should throw a big party and invite all of my friends. There would be Americans, French, Chinese, and Cameroonians! Jess, I can continue our tradition of multicultural gatherings!

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