Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Extended Stay

Well, it has been just over two weeks since we returned from taking the Yeiters to the airport in Douala, and I have to share our exciting experience. Life in Africa is always an adventure and you never quite know what is going to happen. You have to take one day at a time. Although - that is really life in general. It's just that when a trip like ours takes place in the states, you have triple A to call and a taco bell and a Wal-mart next door to make it a bit less stressful. :D

The trip started out with, "How much longer til we get there" 's from all the kids before we even really left Bamenda! haha! We were packed in pretty good between all of us and the Yeiters luggage and it was an unusually hot day. So, it wasn't the most comfortable ride, but we told the kids to enjoy each other's company and have fun. Easier said than done I can assure you - but all in all, they were pretty good for the duration of the trip. Especially considering the trouble we ran into close to Douala.
You can kind of see Trinity in the back of the van, snuggled between all the luggage. She fell asleep that way lol! Too cute.

Well, everything was going along just great until we were about 30 to 45 minutes outside of Douala. The van started to overheat (deja-vu from my Mom's visit). We obviously pulled over...cooled it down. Whew! The van was steamy!! and we were all so sweaty. Well, it cooled down and we continued on our way for a very brief time. It started heating again and again the guys tried to cool it down. This time some local men helped to carry some water. Off we go again...but then the van started making this terrible grinding noise. Yikes. So, Ben just had no idea what it was and was too afraid to go any further. Especially after we'd just paid to have the engine rebuilt! God orchestrated every bit of it though. We broke down in front of Jonathan's house. This man lives and works in Douala, but he is from the village of Babanki! He was from our province. Ben told him, "I was just in Babanki this morning!" So instantly we had a connection. He allowed us to pull our van into his little yard. He also offered to find a friend who could carry us to the airport. And he said it was no problem to park the van there for the night. He had a big security light and a nightwatchman, so the van would be safe. Wow! God worked it all out!

Well, We had to wait quite a little bit of time until his friend arrived with the van, and keeping the kids entertained was a feat. I'd brought a book with me that I tried to read to them. Susan took over and sang some songs with them. Jonathan was so thoughtful and brought out chairs for all of us to sit in. Finally that little van arrived. There were 12 of us...and Yeiters had their 12 peices of luggage plus their carry-ons - and we had a carry-on size suitcase with our stuff in it. This van was a 9 passenger. Hmmmmmmmm. Well, in Cameroon fashion, we all (including luggage of course) made it into that van! Unreal!! Susan and I were in the front passenger seat with 3 kids, and Matt and Ben were in the back with 5 kids. Because of how everything worked out, we weren't able to go with Yeiters to the airport. We had Jonathan's friend take us to the Mediterranean restaurant so we could eat and we said our goodbyes while the Yeiters continued on to the airport to find something to eat there.

We went to the Mediterranean twice while we were there and would you believe I forgot to take a picture both times! I'm so mad at myself. Well, we were exhausted, but hadn't eaten a real meal all day, so we ordered some pizzas. After we ate we hailed a cab and went to the Baptist guest house to crash for the night. I took a shower...Ahhh! I haven't had a real shower in weeks! It was such a treat.

The mechanic met Ben at 8 the next morning and they took a taxi out to the van. The kids and I got up and ate breakfast outside. They served tea, so we had fun having omelets, bread and a tea party. We went back into our room to wait for Ben b/c it was so hot. When you are really bored...even french cartoons will entertain you! haha! In the mean time - Ben dropped the mechanic off and put him to work. He headed back to the guest house, so we could spend the day as a family. Ben learned right away, that the mechanic would need to work on it all night, so we were spending an extra night in Douala. The kids were excited!

We decided to go shopping, so we left the guest house and walked until an empty taxi pulled up, and we hired him for the day. His name was Gaston...the kids loved that. ha! We went to all the fun stores that we only get to go to a couple times a term. I bought some stuff - not too much, but we enjoyed looking. Each time, Gaston would park outside and wait for us. We finally finished around lunch time and had him drop us off at the ice cream restaurant we always go to. We paid him and decided to walk back from there. We enjoyed burgers/fries and ice cream!!!

We had the whole afternoon ahead of us and nothing to do but wait, so Ben suggested we go swimming. Well, there was no Wal-Mart next door, so we had to improvise. Kate wore her jammie pants, and her shirt from the day before...Emma wore my tank top and Drew's shorts. Drew wore his clothes from the day before. All in all it worked out, and they swam ALL afternoon! I went and made Faith take a nap. She finally fell asleep and when she woke up, we got ready and walked to the pizza restaurant. We sat down and enjoyed pizza with feta cheese...Yumm! The kids were so wasted though, that they didn't eat as well as they had the night before. That pool wore them out! When we finished we got a taxi and headed back for bed! We went to bed early b/c everyone was so tired.

The mechanic finally came with our repaired van at 11 the next morning. Thankfully the problem was a lot milder than it sounded when we were driving it. The alternator housing came loose, causing the fan to slow down, causing the engine to overheat. We hit the road and had no problems the remainder of the trip. Another treat we enjoyed was rain our second night in Douala. I woke up in the middle of the night to the sound of it pouring on the roof. We also ran into rain a few times on the drive home, which made the trip home 100 times cooler than the trip there. In some places, almost too cool for the windows to be open. Since then we have had several days of rain, including yesterday. It thundered and threatened all afternoon and evening. It never did actually just dump on us, but rain fell a little bit and I'm hopeful and excited about the rainy season coming!

Rain eventually means water. Though, I'm not sure we will feel the effects of it before we leave for furlough the beginning of July, but I'll enjoy the rain whether we have water or not. The water situation has become frustrating, but it is a fact of life I'm learning to deal with. Ben finally sat down and talked to the water chairman and the plumber on Monday, and told him that he needs to ration the water, so that everyone can get a little. We are supposed to now get water Mon-Wed-Fri nights. That will keep our tank full, and the laundry caught up. So while I won't necessarily get a shower, I'll still be able to flush my toilets at will and wash my clothes!

I'll be back in the next few days to update on normal life and Ben's recent trip to Benakuma!
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1 comment:

  1. Wow - you are right, it's never boring there, is it? It sounds like you all made the best of it & had a lot of fun. In the midst of winter here, a hot sunny afternoon to spend at a swimming pool sounds wonderful!