|Avoid the equator during the rainy season|
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I got to the airport. Germain from JCI Cameroon had helped me make a hotel reservation for my visa back in May. But I was showing up earlier and really hoped to stay with and meet some JCI members. So a week ago, I sent a message to Roland Kweiman, this year’s JCI world president who is from Cameroon and told him about my project. He initiated a chain reaction of email forwards until Ghislain, a local president in Douala offered to host me. This chain reaction took some time and nothing got nailed down before I got on the plane, meaning I didn’t have Ghislain’s number nor address and had no idea how to find him once I got there. Stay positive, right?
I got my bags and made it through customs without having to pay an “expedited” service charge to a local entrepreneur whose brother or sister works as a customs officer. It was 5:30 in the morning and when I got out to the taxis and didn’t see anyone holding a sign with my name on it, I started to think about what to do next. Just then, someone approached me, “Are you John?” Yes! Thank you ever so much Ghislain for coming to the airport to meet me! It turns out, Ghislain had been there since 2 am and had no idea what I looked like. When my plane arrived, he saw looking a little dazed and confused and when I looked closely at the sign someone was holding, he said to himself, that must be him.
We took a taxi back to his place and as I put my things down, Ghislain asked, “Do you play ball?” Meaning football, or soccer. Of course I do. “Great, we got a game going in less than an hour, get laced up!”
|Generally 2, sometimes 3 per bike|
Our day with the Veterans had just begun, however. After lunch, we went to the réfuge, or clubhouse, to talk about the game and other pressing issues the association had to deal with. Oh, and sing a modified version of the Marseillaise and drink some beers (Allons enfants des brasseries / Le temps de boire est arrivé / Nous buvons jusqu’à la dérive / Nous buvons jusqu’à la dérive / Le temps de boire est arrivé / Le temps de boire est arrivé / Buvons... Chantons / Jusqu’au matin / Le temps de boire est arrivé...). After a while of listening to everyone discuss health insurance issues, it became clear that the Veterans could benefit from a training on parliamentary procedure. This would help them take democratic decisions in a timely and efficient manner. I proposed a resolution to do this training with Ghislain next week and it was unanimously approved... Rendez-vous next week for more soccer, training, singing, and drinking!
|Les Amis du Dimanche|
After the meal, we excused ourselves to go to Ghislain’s mother-in-law’s home. She lost her husband last year and the entire family was there for the one-year anniversary of his death. My sincerest condolences to her, Annie, Ghislain’s wife, and the rest of their family.
|Storytelling with the Amis du Dimanche|
One last delicious fish meal with fried plantains and it was time to hit the sack.
To be continued...