I've written before about my ambivalence about Africa and specifically about Cameroon. I really hesitated about visiting Ambam, my old post, again, but I did. I hired a car and a driver, and we went.
The great thing about Peace Corps is that you can just show up at someone's house and it's no big deal. I'd been corresponding with B. by email since he'd posted something about beans on the Friends of Cameroon website. I'd just missed him in Yaoundé but the Peace Corps staff told me that he was at post. We went straight to his house upon arrival in town and he took me on a tour.
Ambam changed dramatically. I'd left it as a sleepy border town and returned to a thriving mini-megalopolis. There was very little I recognized except for a few government buildings. The town has probably tripled in size and where there were gentle hills where cattled grazed are now ugly concrete buildings. B. showed me the three (!) microfinance banks in town and the new market, which supplanted the old site where I used to go. When I was a volunteer there was only one high school; now there's two and my old school is the Lycée Bilingue and the new one is the Lycée Technique. We went to visit the Catholic mission, where the nuns remembered me, and drove by my old house with its pink paint now sadly peeling. I didn't expect to find anyone else I knew since most of my friends and colleagues were civil servants who've been transferred. We ended the visit with a lunch of ndolé and baton de manioc.
I shouldn't have stressed so much about going back.
B. and the nuns
at the school
I'm glad to hear that cellphones have not killed the "visit anytime without calling" culture of Peace Corps. I used to love that I could drop in on people whenever in PC, and I was wondering if that has changed now that so many PCVs have cell phones. Although maybe cellphones are not as commonplace in Cameroon as they are currently in Ghana?