Sunday, October 23, 2011

Wild Wild West!

This weekend was amazing!

We went on a field trip to the West Region, to the city of Bangangte'. It was about 5 degrees cooler than Bafia and so beautiful! Mountains!
Some of the girls! L-R: Shannon, Ashleigh, Me, and Lauren chillin in the West!

We left Bafia around 7:00 am and the drive was only about one hour. We went to an Agroforestry Extension Office – they do demonstrations and educational programs for farmers in their area to promote agroforestry and sustainability. They also have a pretty nice tree nursery where they make some of their money from. We got to see so many different agro techniques that we had talked about in class like intercropping, terracing, and agro-pastoral systems (which actually ended up being pretty terrible for the Center because their cow was stolen and the grass they planted turns out to be invasive without a cow munching on it every day). We also practiced some propagation techniques like cuttings and grafting – which is super cool in citrus trees! I didn't know this before but you can graft a citrus tree to have different branches that produce different types of citrus – like a grapefruit branch, orange branch, mandarin (the best type of citrus here!), and lemon. Mandarins are the best here because they taste more like Florida oranges than the real oranges : ) Oranges here are very sour and difficult to peel.

So anyways, it was also awesome because we got to stay in a hotel AND have a later curfew. Yes, we are treated like children. I got to have braised fish with baton de manioc, pimont (like sirache), and onion. DELICIOUS hot fresh off the grill of the fish mama not to mention cheap and tastey paired with an ice cold Castel.

The next day was pretty awesome as well. First, we went to a women's co-op who make Shea butter and got to learn about the Shea butter process and (more importantly) about women's co-ops in general, how this particular one got started, and how it functions today. These women are so smart – they make loads of money making that Shea butter and they are trying to expand their market outside of just Bangangte', Yaounde, and Bamfassam (the regional capital of the West). Then, we went to a small village where an agro volunteer lives to learn about tofu production and THEN got to eat some fried tofu with onion and pimont!! After which, the volunteer also works with a women's co-op bakery and talked about the positives and negatives of their organization and got to eat some beniets. Good morning!

Tofu Making: after you grind the soybeans, you have to cook them for about 30 minutes to denature the toxins in the beans. Then you add vinegar to speed up the coagulation

Then you press the soy like cheese, then leave under a rock for a few hours and Voila! Tofu! Here, they add boullion cubes and pimont to add some spicy and salt. 

Finally, it started raining. And raining. And it was pretty cold. And I don't have a rain coat. So I got very cold. We were out in the jungle in a tiny village with only mud roads out. We plowed along, got stuck four times, but luckily we had tiny villages along the way to help push us out (along with us!) so needless to say we arrived in Bangangte' SO muddy. Wow so muddy. The mud is dark red too, similar to the red clay soils in the south : ) but my shoes were caked. When I got home Sunday, my family just laughed at me, because Cameroonians would never walk around with shoes as dirty as mine are. They are always impeccably dressed, I don't know how its possible!

So all in all, its been a very good week. We only have three days of class before ANOTHER field trip to the North West Region!! More mountains!! More cooler weather! And I'll be more ready for it this time, even though I still don't have a raincoat but whatevs. I make due. I should buy an umbrella but I'll miss the Thursday market this week.

OOH and I know this is only gossip, BUT we all had our second interviews with Tiki, the program director for Agroforestry, last week. Tiki told me he wants to send me to the Extreme North!!! We'll see next week (November 2nd!! Check back around that date if you want to know because I'm sure I'll be blasting it all over my blog/facebook because I'll be so excited!) for sure, but I'm pretty excited. I'll have to learn fulfulde (unless I really want to focus on French, which I do, but I already tested high enough on the language test so I can if I want). But anyways, I don't want to say TOO much because its not for sure yet.

Anyways, I love you all! Things are going fine with my host family, all is well. Send me letters! I really like them! Emails also work too! Let me know whats going on with you all!!

1 comment:

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