Monday, November 27, 2006

Giving Thanks in Yaounde

Kids Table
Thanksgiving was a busy day chez Swaney - with a total headcount of 26 (11 kids - 15 others). We had a nice mix of Cameroonians, neighbors, co-workers, workers, and friends, and even managed to do OK with a partially defrosted turkey.

It was another chance to give thanks for what our time here offers - time as a family, an escape from some of the more invasive/corrosive aspects of U.S. culture, and a perspective on how fortunate we are to be Americans and to belong to a flawed but honorable, and idealistic nation.
We are also blessed with material wealth that is dramatically more evident here.

Big Kids Table

Successful as the day was - we are looking forward to a quieter - smaller Christmas holiday celebration

Lincoln with our neighbor/future babysitter - Juliette Beighle

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Photo Album

A few quick photo highlights of our time in Cameroon

Left- visiting the ape rescue center outside Yaounde - where the animals are as interested in us as we are in them

Right - The boys making friends during a roadside picnic

On the road in Northwest Cameroon - near Jakiri

Left - A car, cow and people ferry at Nachtigal falls north of Yaounde where the boys went fishing with our neighbors

Right - View from our street - (technically it is Rue 1770 but no names are ever used)

A view of the Ndop plain - Northwest Cameroon

Left- Hiking up to Crater Lake

The Dja river - Souther Cameroon - sadly no pygmy elephants were bathing in the river that day

Left - Bill brushing up his surgical skills with our friend Bart Muhs

Right - The locals (pygmies) - showing their appreciation by doing a traditional dance

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Home sweet home

Hello again

We thought we'd start our blogging by sharing a bit about our home - thank you again to all you taxpayers out there.

In a nutshell - it is huge. lovely and quirky - in that order. The most important feature is of course the pool, with our huge covered patio coming in a close second. We also have a guest bedroom with bath that we hope will get good use - but which is currently home only to the

many geckos that share our living space with us. Luckily the small swath of lawn you see is the surrounded by concrete, cobblestone and 20 foot walls - making it a snake-free zone - to the delight of Kristie. (friends of ours have had 4 very poisonous critters removed from their garden). We also enjoy a very pleasant climate - being cushioned from the equatorial heat by the altitude (we are at 3 degrees north latitude). Highs are in the 80s - and in the 60s at night - with the seasonal variation being the relative frequency of the rain. (we're in the dry season).
Settling in took a long time - with the customary delays, and frustrations of not having a vehicle, not having reliable phone or internet or phone, etc. However, the boys helped us make the best and to seize every disappointment and empty box and turn it into an opportunity.

X-wing fighter pilots Graham and Lincoln

We are living in a one of the nicest neighborhoods in the city - but still have need of a 24 hour guard and massive fence around our "compound" due to the crime situation here. Needless to say - taking a stroll in the neighborhood offers a very different feel than back home - but it is not without charms - like the street vendor where we can pick up eggs and baguettes in a pinch.

Sunset by the pool
Among the charms of Yaounde is a fairly unique and beautiful "skyline" - meaning the green peaks of the hills that define the city. This is a charm that can only be appreciated from the passenger seat - as driving here is vicious and unpredictable - with public taxis stopping or pulling out at any time, lumber trucks barreling down roads that are an endless procession of axle-eating potholes.

Graham, Eli and Lincoln seem very happy here - enjoying a routine that typically entails a daily swim, a gecko hunt, and being tucked in under their mosquito nets. The older boys are really enjoying their days at the American School of Yaounde - which is a small- and slightly run down - but very well-run institution that offers a very supportive community. Despite his strong interest in science - Graham reports that his favorite subject is French - since his favorite teacher is Kristie - who is teaching part-time there. Eli is more inclined to sports, but enjoys his private french tutor as well.

All in all - it's a nice home - and a happy family life here.

Eli on a successful Gecko Hunt

Kickoff of the Swaney family blog

Dear friends and family

After almost a year living in Cameroon we have decided to officially throw in the towel on trying to keep up to date with everyone on our (mis) adventures here.

Hopefully this medium will let us keep up with more of you - and to share a bit of the incredible beauty and teeth-gnashing frustration that comes with relocating to Africa.


The Swaneys Five
(Bill, Kristie, Graham - 7, Eli - 5, and Lincoln - 1.5)