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In Yaounde we drive 4 hours, on a one lane highway passing slow trucks carrying gasoline and tree trunks, to get to a beach. Quite different from the easy 4 block walk I grew up with in Jersey. Here you have to work for your ocean. But Kribi has proved itself to be SO worth it!

The first day we got there we stopped at the ‘fish market’ where the fishermen bring in the catch of the day and sell it to towns people and restaurant goers.The fish here is served with heads and tails attached, and yummy spices and onions. No forks in sight Cameroonians eat with their hands and so do we. Pima and vert sauce is served on the side side, one super spicy the other mild and garlicky.
We get food and a show, watching the boats role in, men gathering their nets, chatting it up, and carving boats. 2hours later, with full bellies, we arrived at the Tara Plage, a small hotel literally on top of the beach that late afternoon. It was like living in nature (with 12 other people) for 2 days.

When we got there and we went swimming right away- which was the theme of the weekend along with sleeping, eating, playing poker, and scrabble. I have two favorite moments; one was swimming in the rain. We could ride the huge waves totally alone, the river forming a water slide into the surf, the beach (a cove) all to our selves. I think we all swam for at least 3 hours. The other was swimming at dusk. It was a perfect sunset. One of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen.

On our last day we got to check out The Lobe falls of Kribi, water falls that drop directly into the ocean, and haggle for jewelry and native wood sculptures.

That night Jeff, one of the teachers, arranged for everyone to eat fish, prawns, fries and plantains a 2 minute walking distance from our hotel on the beach . The only light we had was a bamboo fire and 3 cell phones held up by the guys who caught and cooked the fish. We all stayed up and talked till, couldn’t tell you what time…I didn’t look at a clock the entire vacation. It was definitely a weekend worth repeating… so we booked it again 2 weeks from today.


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How lucky am I? The school is paying for my personal items to be shipped abroad! Seriously, if you’ve ever lived in another country you’d know what a big deal this is!

Yaoundé, from what I’ve learned, does not have any art stores or clothing stores. They have seamstresses that make clothing, and their local art scene is all woodcarving.. I am told taxing is 100% on imported items; this includes things like sneakers, certain foods, and cars. It is hard to get items through customs on a timely basis. I read in a 3-year-old teacher’s handbook to bring things you felt needed to be a specific brand. So if a Walmart was built there in the last 3 years, I will feel a little silly. Either way, I am taking advantage of this wonderful offer.

If you were trapped on an island and had 5 boxes you could fill with things to take with you, what would you bring? What couldn’t you live with out? I repeated this to myself, staring at the art supplies and peanut butter I’d artistically wedged between my shampoo, soap, and contact lens solution.

"the big one ended up being 97lbs"

Ha-ha…5 boxes. I think not!

6 personal boxes and 5 boxes (filled only with art supplies) later, my life is packed securely and on its way to Kingwood Texas where it will be placed in a big container and shipped to Yaoundé. Clearly my top priorities are my everyday items, and art supplies. I am hopeful that during this experience, I will be painting every chance I get.

Beyond the things I absolutely can’t live with out, I got to pack stuff that will help me get settled and feel happy. The top items in that mix are:

Art Books: Vincent Van Gogh: The Drawings, Lucian Freud, Picasso and Matisse, Tim Burton, Frida Kahlo.

Novels: The Fountainhead, One Hundred Years of Solitude, The Human Stain. My NEW Kindle is joining me so I really have no need to bring too many.

Food: Peanut butter, ketchup (it’s very different once you leave the US, probably made more naturally, but I like the stuff with the corn syrup) and Oatmeal. Brownie mix (if anything this will help me make friends), Wheat thins, black liquorice, and ginger snaps. During my stay in Italy, not having certain American food products, (and spending 12 euros on peanut butter) helped bring on a bit of homesickness.

I know when I get there, there will be more things I wish I had, but adapting to my surroundings is part of the experience. I’ll probably find even better substitutes. Who knows? But it will be OK, and I’ll have my ketchup and art supplies to keep me happy!

Lesson of the month: If you forgot to pack something, it probably wasn’t that important.

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