June 21- 22nd
To update you I thought I would tell you about a typical day in Regina’s household with details from today. First, I was finally able to clarify the relationships in the family I am staying with! Regina has 5 children: Titus, Sama, Laura and then a boy and a girl who are off studying in the UK and Yaounde, respectively. Her husband and their father passed away 8 years ago. The four little kids Regina calls her children who are in Yaounde for the summer are her sister’s children. However, Regina is a mother to everyone and calls me her American daughter.
For a typical day Regina wakes up around 6:45 and goes outside to start selling her food and clothes/ suitcases. Titus and Sama wake up a little bit later, especially if they have gone out the night before. There is no such thing as a dining room table here, and each person eats their breakfast on their own. In the morning they immediately turn on the music channel on the television and usually listen to American rap. There is some station that they listen to that is all raps written by black artists. Sama knows all the words to all the songs, which I make fun of him for, and he plays them loudly from his room as well. (I have a feeling the familiar music will keep me sane if I get bored or homesick). In the mornings Regina hangs outside preparing some sort of food, such as stripping off leaves of lettuce for lunch, or some sort of garden work. Today Regina was casually hacking at the weeds in the front yard with a foot and a half long machete. Mind you this is also a woman dressed in long dress and sweater with only her slippers on beating up her lawn with a huge knife. I must say I was quite impressed. Regina and Laura then went on do to some groceries and to refill their gas for the stove. Their walk to do these chores was only 7 minutes so I tagged along. To take the gas back up to the house Regina hailed down a motorcyclist and she climbed on the back with the large container. The streets in Bamenda are filled with taxis and motorcycles, very few people own their own cars. I learned that taking a motorcycle is more expensive because they get you to your destination quicker and can go places that taxis cannot. But of course, there are no helmets to be heard of! As for the taxis, one person may start out in the taxi, but on the route to their destination, more and more people will pile in, because the taxi slows down next to anyone who waives it down. The people being driven will then tell the driver where they want to exit and pay for their ride without needing to ask for the cost! At times there will be 5 people piled into the four seats and the driver will even tell someone to move over to let another person get in. I walked up back to the house for lunch and found everyone inside. In the afternoon, everyone in the household tends to drift inside and stay there for the rest of the night. The television channel switches from music to whatever Nigerian movie or soap opera is going on at that time. For lunch today Mama Regina made up some sweet rice and a sort of fish soup, all of which was very delicious. So far the food here has been fantastic, the only thing I have a hard time getting down is plain mushed corn since it is so thick. For lunch we all sit on the couches or chairs in the living room and watch television-it seems to be the center of entertainment here. During the afternoon they only exit the house if there is someone who comes to buy something. Other than that they hang out in their rooms or nap in the living room. Everyone eats some sort of dinner at around 8:30 around the television again.
For my birthday this morning they sang me a three part song starting with happy birthday, then how old are you and then some form of many more! It was the best. So happy to have been able to celebrate with my American and Cameroonian friends!