Wednesday, February 4, 2009

“So much we take for granted” - Tyler

We have been here for just over a week and it seems like there is a list that goes on forever of things that are completely taken for granted in the United States. From the first steps out of the Yaoundé airport we have to be very careful of what we drank or ate. “Don’t drink the water”, drink only bottled water, don’t eat lettuce or other washed vegetables, brush teeth with bottled water, and stay out of streams and ponds. It may seem like a simple task until you rinse your toothbrush with dirty water out of utter tiredness. Then you have to boil water to clean your toothbrush off and by the time you are done it takes you 20 minutes to brush your teeth when it should have taken 2 minutes and you are now thinking of the sleep that you have just lost. In the US there is no need to worry about all of these things. When you turn on the water at home water comes out and you know it is clean enough to drink. In Cameroon, it is a gamble if water even comes out of the tap let alone being safe to drink.

Electricity… another technology that is taken for granted in the US. When you switch the light switch…you get light. Here in Cameroon the power supply is frequently not working. Almost every night, after having dinner, we sit down and have a meeting about what was completed during the day and what needs to be completed the following day. Frequently these meetings are done over the light from one of our flashlights. And…the lights just went out as I was writing.

Traffic laws……haha what traffic laws? In Cameroon you make your own traffic laws. Avoid people, motorcycles, chickens, goats, cows, or any other strange obstacles at all costs. Driving in reverse on a one way…not an issue here in Cameroon.

Public Transportation… The only public transportation here in Cameroon is a bus the size of a minivan that is packed like a can of sardines, has people riding on the outside, and is strikingly similar to something that you would see out of a Dr. Seuss book.

This list can go on and on (sanitation, doctors, paved roads, supermarkets, drug stores,…. etc.) I expect to find many more that I can add to this list in the coming days. I am not at all saying that Cameroon is a bad place, because it is not. It is a wonderful country with extremely friendly people and it has been one of the best learning experiences of my life. But I think that it is very important to remember how fortunate we are. So…next time you go to your sink for a drink or turn on the light to read a book remember that there are billions of people that are not as fortunate as you.



Josh C said...

I'm glad you are alive and well! I hope you keep brushing your teeth correctly and not having to boil your toothbrush. Now don't you see why I want to venture out next year? haha good luck

Josh C said...

See the world doesn't center around jersey!