Thursday, July 30, 2015

Africa 2.0 - Day 1

I arrived into Douala, Cameroon last night about 5pm after 24 hours of travel, going through both Washington DC and Brussels, Belgium.  The flights were easy but long,  and I arrived into Douala less tired than anticipated.   Entry was smooth through immigrations and I discovered the BEST thing about the local airport - not having to wait for luggage. 
Douala International Airport 
 I was met by the company agent and told that the driver would take me home, then return to get the luggage, since it is a SLOW process.  I was thrilled to see Charles waiting for me right inside the entrance.  One of the hard parts of being an expat is the long separation that we have due to relocations, so it is great to be back together!  Ernest, (our driver) took us home, which was less than 20 minutes from the airport - which is another wonderful perk! 


View outside the airport
Thankfully, I had seen the house before, so that helped with the culture shock.  Homes in Cameroon are a bit 'weathered' and this one is no different.
The location is fabulous and we are in the center of town.  The house also seems to have good security, which is a big plus.  
Charles and one of the guard dogs at our front door 
Charles is pictured at the front door of the house.  The silver 'garage door' that you see is a security door which rolls down each night.   The front entrance is actually a sliding glass door, which is a bit unusual.  We have additional silver security doors over each of the back doors too.   It is certainly not attractive, but it seems to work.   You can see on the right side of the picture our carport, which we don't use for the car.  There is a plastic table along with a grill, desk, old dresser and a television.  This seems to be the main location used by our guards.   We have both day guards, who  work 6am-6pm, and two night guards - who keep each other awake during the night.    They also have our guard dogs, who keep them company.  

The items to the left of the front door may not stay long.  Best I can tell, there is a collection of older appliances, air conditioners, water pumps, tables, chairs, water bottles, old dog house, etc...  but I'll deal with that later.  



My first day was fairly relaxing, unpacking and getting my few items organized. Our shipment will come later - any day from now!   I did have a few 'events' worth mentioning that helped welcome me to Cameroon.  My first shower was a surprise with the water going on and off repeatedly.  I would soap up, and the water would stop....then it would come back on with a vengeance.  I shampooed my hair and the water went back off...etc.. Thankfully I was able to get clean, but it took a while.  I also noticed earlier that the floor mat in front of our sink was wet, but didn't think much about it.  Afterwards. I noticed it was sopping.  I investigated further and found that the hot water heater was leaking - all over the shelf, the sink and the floor.  
Water Heaters are on the ceiling of each bathroom. 
We called the maintenance guy to come over and by the time he arrived, it was spewing water.  He left to get a part, and I walked in to see water pouring out   We went through 7 buckets of water before he returned. 
The old part was corroded - ugh! 
 Here's a close up of the brown water flowing from the heater.   All I could think about was the shower that I just took.  Suddenly, I didn't feel very clean! :)  Ugh!  Needless to say, I am using bottled water to brush my teeth!  
Brown water flows from the white part of the water heater.  
This wahala took about 4-5 hours to repair.  By that time, we had determined that the other bathroom sink wasn't draining.  They pulled LOTS of hair/debris from the pipes, and we were back in working order quickly. Here's a picture of the lovely blue bathroom. 

 Unfortunately, about 6 pm, we noticed a leak under the kitchen sink, so the maintenance guys should return first thing in the morning.   Hopefully the bucket will be enough till then... 

While we were watching the maintenance guy work, I commented on a few small piles of dirt in the bathroom.  Our housekeeper explained that the 'dirt' was actually from the termites that burrowed into the wood and tile.  Yeah...I will have to work on that one soon too.  

This afternoon, I also moved a small dresser and noticed some plastic packets under it.  She explained that the packets contained rat poison and they were in a few strategic places around the house.  She mentioned that it was a good idea to keep the windows near the closet closed since the rats liked to climb in there and hide in the clothes.  Guess what is on my list for tomorrow?  Yes, you guessed it - more rat poison.   Maybe the house needs a few cats outside too!  

Thankfully we've also discovered Google translate, which has been VERY helpful today.   The language here is French and my skills are nonexistent, so I need some help.  A good friend loaned me her Rosetta Stone.  I've gone through a few lessons, but obviously need to do some more intensive work quickly!   

All in all, this has been a good start to a new adventure.   

Petit a petit, poco a poco, little by little, we will get there.   

Au Revoir.... More tomorrow!