Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Buea

Buea is an interesting town. Trixy and I both remarked that we knew we were living in a city. While Buea town proper is smaller than South Bend, we live on the main street, it is VERY busy. There is a lot of noise: music of all sorts and car horns are probably the most common. We live just - and I mean JUST - down the street from the Great Soppo market. Market days (Tuesdays and Saturdays) are the busiest (nosiest) time. Sunday is probably the quietest as most places are closes (except the churches). Every morning we are greeted by the rooster. There is a time in the morning when birds are the dominate sound and that is quite pleasing.

The discos/clubs go late into the night and the music wafts across town. We have an apostolic church across the street, which produces a more pleasing music. Friday evening we enjoyed praise and worship music from our perch. On Sunday there is church music wafting across the hillside. Directly across the street there is a shop. I'm not sure what he sells, I will have to stop in, but he has speakers out front that are HUGE and the music is loud. We knew he was there when we visited in April, but our first few days here we didn't hear him. But he started up Sunday night...

In town, taxis are the most common form of transport (other than walking and maybe motos). The cost is a reasonable 100 - 150 CFAs (Central African Francs), or about 25-38 US cents at current exchange rates. This is per person. So far they have not charged for the dog as she sits on our lap. Though the drivers don't seem to mind, other passengers tend to freak a bit about having a dog in the car. Did I mention taxis are shared? You can arrange for private trips, but they tend to be much more expensive. The motor noise of the taxis is nothing compared to the horn beeping. The horns are beeped for warnings, to see if you want a ride, and, after you state where you want to go they'll beep twice in quick succession if you miss their subtle head tilt. If the taxi isn't going in your general direction there will be a subtle head shake and they'll just drive off. In Buea, this hasn't been too much of a problem as we stop along the main street. On the other hand Douala is an entirely different story.

In Buea there are no sidewalks to speak of, save the few feet of gravel just off the pavement, or the narrow space on the other side of the drainage ditches. The first night we were walking Jordan, she didn't see the ditch. She doesn't miss them now.

You can read a brief history of Buea at Wikipedia. Trixy and I call old Buea "Up town". Where the hospital is located is more "mid town". The university we call "down town". These do NOT correlate to normal designations. The old town is much higher up the hill from us, closer to 3000' in elevation where we are about 2400'. We'll be sweating in sunshine and they'll be in fog. Lower down the hill is the University of Buea, the only English language university in Cameroon.

Of the six African countries I have visited, Rwanda was the cleanest I have seen, followed closely by Malawi. Granted, where you are (city or rural) can make a difference. And trash is a problem not just in Africa. Locally, Great Soppo Market is constantly "trashy". I am told when the rains come, the trash washes away. Woo-hoo! But watch out Limbe.

But lets look closer to home. I was walking Jordan around the grounds of the hospital. I wondered aloud to myself (and later to Trixy), if what I saw was 38 years of garbage disposal. To be sure some of it gets tossed over the wall from neighbors, but not all of it - not that much.

So is it all darkness and complaints? Well, I don't know yet. When I first moved to South Bend all I could do was compare it (negatively) to Loma Linda. Just three and a half short years later, I realized I had been converted and could hardly see myself living in Loma Linda.