Field Notes

Making Banana Pancakes (Sandwiches)

Friday, I came home and met my Aunt Christine who was visiting my dad. She decided that I needed to learn Bulu (the local dialect in the Southern Region) and taught me the basics, recorded here for your learning pleasure:

Ombolu-Good day

Mbambamos-Have a good day

Mbambalou-Good night

Mbambache-Good morning

Mba-Good

Mbambagoeh-Good afternoon

Aquiba-Thank you

Aquibabwe-Thank you very much

Abwebidi-A lot of food

Akeyeh-Oh my gosh (used in sort of joking manner indicating annoyance)

Azambu-Oh my god

Zambuh-God

Zambuwon-My god

Ehreu (ends in upward intonation)-yes, good

Ehreu (ends with downward intonation)-no

Onenvoye-How are you?

Saturday, I woke up with every intention to run, but decided to sleep in until six. When I finally got out of bed, my dad announced we were headed to market. On the way, he talked about la dote also known as the dowry system in Cameroon. Here, men must pay to marry girls, usually a pig or two (about 1,000,000 CFA if not a bit more), after the dowry is accepted; the families party and dance all night. Because I was still half asleep, I assumed we must be headed towards the party, but as my dad had already mentioned, we showed up at the market, which unlike the stores in my town is only open every Wednesday and Saturday. After wandering around we ended up eating ben-yeahs (delicious balls of fried dough-I’m convinced fried dough is a universal truth along with family and love and all those other things) and drinking this warm sweet cornmeal flour drink (that is much more tasty than I am making it sound) before saying goodbye to my lovely aunt who was leaving and heading to school.

After class ended at noon, we decided we deserved a trip to the city, Ebolowa. With six to a car, we figured we needed two cars for the twelve of us. Having procured the taxis, we were about ready to head out when my car’s driver opened the door to admit a family of six. How is this possible you might ask? Quite simple math: Four in the front, four in the back and four in the trunk (you hold the trunk open, obviously). And that’s nothing-my friend went to Ebolowa Sunday in a car holding fifteen people. We clearly aren’t using space to its fullest potential back in the States.

As much fun as Ebolowa was on Saturday—seeing a bit of the market, wandering around a roundabout before deciding on a restaurant, eating Senegalese rice and such—nothing was more amazing to returning to electricity. After a week of running into random objects around my house, I could finally see again! (Note: Electricity disappeared again Monday evening, the woes of only having one power line.)

Sunday was (finally!) a day off and I managed to sleep in until 7 (quite a feat considering the roosters outside who cock-i-doodle-doo at all hours of the night). I then attempted to hand wash my laundry. I thought I was doing a pretty decent job until my neighbor started laughing and told my little sister to help me. Even then, I still have yet to master the hand scrubbing technique.  I then went to church with my family and wandered around town with other volunteers.

Most importantly, I cooked for my family, or more accurately, I made peanut butter, banana, and honey sandwiches for them. Having seen my family grinding up peanuts (arrachid or groundnuts) and being so excited at the prospect of peanut butter (the dream of every American abroad) and then having my dreams be crushed as they put it all in a pot with water to make sauce (actually very delicious in a peanut curry sort of way), I was determined to show them how Americans eat their pâte d’arrachid. So I made them sandwiches, which they called cakes because they have this other thing they eat called chocolate cake, basically chocolate spread on baguette (logically, I refer to them as chocolate sandwiches). Result? My two younger siblings liked them and wanted me to make them again, my older brother felt it was a weird mix and ate all the rest of my bananas (likely in an attempt to prevent me from making them again).

In other news, I had to cook breakfast for myself on Monday while everyone else was getting ready for school (my parents are currently out of town), a big step for someone who was given a children’s book to read the other night for entertainment. Luckily, the omelet turned out well. (Fun fact, they mix bouillon cubes in with the eggs in addition to garlic, which is very flavorful). The other exciting news is sites will be announced this Thursday. Tune in next week to find out where I’ll be living for the next two years!

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4 thoughts on “Making Banana Pancakes (Sandwiches)

  1. Vail says:

    I just ate a boatload of beignets in New Orleans this weekend, and you said it perfectly that fried dough is a universal truth. So fun reading about all of your adventures! xo

  2. Hey Jesse! Love your blog! Glad to read you’re doing so well 🙂

    It’s funny to read the similarities between DR and Camaroon…I also have so many chickens in my backyard that cocka-doodle-doo like literally all hours of the day and night haha.

    Anyways, just was reading your blog and wanted to say hi!

    -Meghan Burns

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