Saturday. We were supposed to work today but the reprieve came about 4am with little warning. A strong wind followed by a fierce rainstorm. No lightning or thunder but it’s been raining steadily for a few hours. Our roofs are made of tin, and the ceilings are low so the noise can be overpowering, loud enough to make you think the storm is stronger than it really is. This rain though is the kind that could last all day. The Fang (the ethnic group where we’re staying) have different words for rain that lingers and rain that comes with fierce winds and rain that destroys.
On the whole we love rain since it replenishes our bucket supply for bathrooms and dishes. We’ve had some false rain alarms and placed buckets around the perimeter of the buildings to catch the run off from the tin roofs. So we’ve come to the conclusion that putting out the buckets too early means no rain. Our barrels emptied this week so we paid a couple of older boys to refill them. Of course, it started raining right after they filled the barrels.
We drink a lot of water, on average 3 liters per person per day. There’s a working pump in the village that has pretty clean water and every couple of days we fill up four 20-liter jugs for our hosts, for our worksite and for us. We have a pretty efficient system of filtering and sterilizing that water to make sure we don’t get sick. Also, we feel pretty self-righteous about not cluttering the environment with dozens of empty plastic water bottles.
A recommendation for those people who like to eat “local”. Find your way to Abam Eba. Two meals a day are mostly local – different ways to prepare the cassava tubers and plantains, the various leaves and what they call aubergines (small and green). They serve these with fish and meat and there comes the exotic. Outside of canned sardines and mackerel, we’ve eaten various kinds of fish caught locally. It’s the wild boar, porcupine, groundhog, antelope and anteater that will make many vegetarians cringe. Still even those don’t compare with a Gabon Viper that was trapped in the forest near here. Our host’s son, Cyril, convinced us to buy it and promised he would cook. He did, and his stew was great and the meat on the viper was quite tasty. Worth the price!!
Two nights ago, I was awakened by a gunshot. I knew they did night hunting so I didn’t think anything of it. The following morning the local chef de village, Ngo, walked by the house carrying a shotgun. He said he had fired at an antelope the night before and was on his way to try to find it. He had a couple of village dogs with him – they must have known what was going on. Sure enough, the dogs found the wounded, barely alive antelope and put it out of its misery. On my way to work, I passed a wheelbarrow containing the antelope, on its way to the chef’s home. It should make its way to our table one of these days.
Amidst all this surviving logistics, the work proceeds. Cement block walls are up five feet, thanks to the presence of three masons on our team. We have ten days or so left and a lot still to do but we’ll keep pushing forward. Photo here shows our contractor, Medard, with Cyril smoothing the mortar joints.
Our nets team went back to where they did the distribution last year and surveyed two villages. They were encouraged by continued use but we’ll await their final report.
On a sad note, the school in Doumandzou where we worked in 2015 and 2016 has closed, for this year anyway. Apparently the teacher assigned there refused to go since it was too far away from all the amenities. When we were working there, we heard similar stories of years when the school was forced to close due to lack of teachers. Hopefully next year.