Saturday, September 19, 2009

3-Way Culture Exchange

Tuesday morning, I traveled back to the West with two French tourists, Laure & Fabien. They are friends of a French volunteer in Yaoundé, who didn't have time to travel with them. Laure & Fabien were going to travel alone and asked me if I knew a good hotel. I offered to take them in and play tour guide for a few days.

I must say it is quite refreshing having tourists around; it provides a new perspective. Or rather, it reminds me just how funny/absurd life is here. We get to the bus station at Binam Express and a bus was nearly full, but one of those small buses where they sit 5 to a row when it's meant for 4. We piled on and waited for the bus to depart. Every time another person gets on, Laure says, "there is no way." I tell her, "there is always a way."

We arrived in Bafoussam, stopped off in Akwa for some food before heading back to Batié. Laure & Fabien would point out things that I take for granted - the view, the warm and welcoming nature of the people, etc. They were amazed at my hole in the ground "bathroom", my Cameroonian "oven" and the fact I have Internet in a house without running water. On a day-to-day basis, I don't think about how my life here is still absolutely fascinating to many.

In one day, I took them on many "first-time" experiences - first time on overly crowded bus/taxi, first time on a moto, first time eating poisson braisée & baton de manioc, etc. The fascinating and incredible thing about being a globetrotter is the ease to form friendship with other amazing people. Three days prior, I had no idea they would even be visiting, and just like that, I now have new friends in Lyon, France who will welcome me if I ever visit. I think by the end of two years here, I will have friends all over France!

The next day, we visited the Mifi waterfall near Bafoussam, lunch in Akwa, a tour of the Market and then visited the chefferie in Bafoussam. That evening, I was going off to the joint-birthday celebration at the Chineses'. Coincidentally, it was Fabien's 30th birthday. Per usual, my Chinese family invited them over and housed them for two nights instead of letting them stay at a hotel. Once again, I was conducting a 3-way culture exchange; also acting as a translator between the Chineses' French & the Frenchies' French. I grow more comfortable with the French language everyday, and I hope there will be a chance to continue using it in the future.

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