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Flashback: Cameroon Chronicles - Day 7 (yes, 7!) - Douala - R&R and Grilled fish

Originally Posted by Keri Chryst on March 4, 2012 at 10:25 AM

Sleeping in!! What a luxury after this hectic week of bouncing around the Cameroonian countryside! That said, I'm on such a schedule, that I decide not to overindulge, and rather make arrangements to join Mignon and Mathias to make a visit to the local artisanal craft market before heading to lunch.

I hate to say it, but unlike some of the other similar markets we've visited here and in other countries, this one kind of gets me down. I feel hounded from all sides by overly aggressive salesmen who seem to think that just because I'm a foreigner, I have money to burn. But I already overspent in Togo last month, so I'm really only here to see if anything new and unique (and CHEAP!) catches my eye. I come up with a few extra gifts for nephews (which will remain nameless for the time being until they're delivered into their hot hands) and another unique musical instrument for myself, and am pretty pleased to get out of their for less than 12€.

We swing back by the hotel to pick up Jeff and head out towards the port where we're meeting local Consul, Ed Ghallager, to have excellent but reportedly quite affordable grilled fresh fish at Le Paquebot, a restaurant that also comes highly recommended by the Ambassador. The first pleasant surprise is that we also run into a few of those high-powered business men I mentioned being part of our appreciative audience from last night. This is cool, because I was very curious as to just who these guys are, and I'm glad to have the chance to speak with them more at length to learn about what it is they're doing here and just why it is that a performance like ours can make such an impact around here. For us, we feel like we're "just doing our job", so this kind of enthusiasm intrigues me and I'm curious to know just what sort of a need it is we're filling.

But our host (and the fish!) are waiting for us, so after a quick exchange of contacts, I join the others for a most delectable selection of grilled sea bass and sole, served with plantaines and deliciously fresh french fries. And the company is at least as good as the fish, as Ed regales with tales of his service in the armed forces as well as his more recent stints in Public Diplomacy. It turns out that Ed has recently arrived in Cameroon from his previous posting in Paris, of all places. He's says he's happy to put in a good word for us back home to see what he can do to help us line up some work for the local cultural programs in France. This is a much welcomed offer, since the Africa Regional Services office we've been working for is just separate enough from the main Embassy, that we don't seem to really be on anyone's radar over there. We linger over lunch for several hours, and then take Ed up on his offer to swing by his house for a drink and some more relaxation time. The consummate host and tour guide he drives us around a bit to show us around his new home town, and then we get to see how the other half lives here in Douala. After another hour or so though, it's time to head back and finish catching up on that rest (and on emails, and on uploading photos... etc. etc.). The internet connection at the hotel is pretty decent, so I actually manage to Skype with my mom and sis back home, which is quite a pleasure. We've got one more event in the morning before flying out tomorrow evening though - so bath and bed are high on the list for this evening as well.


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