Saturday, September 8, 2007

The Newest Swaney Goes Home

After several years of deliberation (and persistent begging by Graham) we decided to take the parenthood plunge again...

Already having three boys, Kristie was uncharacteristically insistent that she get to have a lady in the family. So after a lot of painstaking research and careful planning we took a nice trip to Maryland, where we picked up Maya, a seven week old black lab.

Graham and Maya

Maya and her new playmate

The Connolly family was kind enough to take us in, puppy and all before we headed back
Little Ladies

The last week, and the final dash to the airport was pretty crazy, and I felt really sorry for the agent who had to deal with all our bags, kids and pet. Maya was actually an angel, but we probably should have used the leash on Lincoln, who had several near escapes.

Homeward Bound

Much as we enjoyed family, fast-food and safe drivers, it was good to be back in Yaounde, and enjoy the local sights, and settle back into our routines.
Home Sweet Home

Summer Vacatiion - Part 2

We wrapped up our vacation in Waterbury, VT enjoying the peace and quiet of the Green Mts.

Slip Sliding Away
The boys had a great time on the industrial size slip-and-slide designed by Bud Graham

Eli Adventures
Eli particularly enjoyed a birthday gift from Auntie D and Uncle Ben, who took him on the Alpine Slide at Stowe, on a special hike, to the ice cream shop and more.

The Wonder Twins
Bud Graham and Uncle Ben admiring the Nerf rockets being shot by boys of all ages

Get Rhythm
Graham really enjoyed showing off his new skills during a very unexpected jam session on African drums with drumming sensation DJ Farraday (aka Uncle Dave)

Biking Buddies
We found another opportunity to soak up americana on the Stowe bike trail, enjoying the family, gorgeous scenery, a great meal, and even a refreshing swim in the creek

The Swaney, Graham and Frey family

Easy Rider
Lincoln enjoyed himself so much in Vermont that he ran away when we were trying to leave, and had to be enticed back by offering another tractor ride with Bud

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Summer Vacation - Part 1

As much fun as we have in Cameroon, we were quite ready to go home and impose on the hospitality of our family and friends. We started in the woods of Tennessee, hit the beach in Cape May, and then headed to the north country.

On the Trail

Kristie and the boys met up with the Stinchfields in the Smoky Mountains for some camping fun

Mighty Minnows

The boys enjoyed swimming with their aunt and uncle in a nice big cool lake

Free Rider

Predictably, Lincoln got his uncle to do all the hard work and enjoyed all the extra attention

Surf Bums

We moved on to the sand and waves, sharing the beach and an ice cream or three with Nanny and Papa John (Bills parents), Aunt Kathie and cousins Katie, Mike and Jackie.

Ladies on a stroll

Kristie, Kathie and Katie enjoying another perfect evening at the shore

Boy fun
The boys particularly enjoyed having an older brother for a while, and Mike didn't seem to mind having some wanna-be's hanging around

And they're off

The little guys gave us all a run for our money - but the grandparents still held their own

Beach Heaven

The ocean was unseasonably cold - but Mom was ready to warm up chilly boys when needed

Nature Camp
The older boys really enjoyed learning about nature, touching snakes, and generally enjoying opportunities and facilities that Cameroon doesn't offer them

Mayhem in Maine

Next we headed north, stopping to see our old friends Bart and Sush - of bush medicine fame

(our new Bush Medicine blog is

Then we had a nice visit with the other Swaney cousins, building forts, playing in the sprinkler and seeing just how many bubbles a jacuzzi tub can make

Gotta Adore Smores

What can I say, it doesn't get any better than this

Puppy Love

Lincoln found a friend and role model in Jon's new dog Rugby

Monday, August 20, 2007

The Swanollys tour Cameroon

A good school year finished in style with a visit from the Connolly family - an adventuresome and fun-loving group who really got out and about.

The Swanolly kids in turtle gear

Boy paradise

The older boys enjoyed their time together, finding lots of interesting creatures like this baseball sized snail and racing tortoises

A day at the Mall

We squeezed in plenty of shopping at the local shops, like this one which produces bags, shoes and more from rafia - a local reed plant

Travelling in Style

An excellent trip to Limbe on the coast included a somewhat nerve-wracking boat tour in a spacious but poorly equipped fishing boat. Our tour guides however were quite chivalrous

Bush Medicine
Demand for the services of Dr. Bwelle and his new assistant Jim Connolly was high as usual - with villagers walking dozens of miles to get a free medical consultation, drugs, or even surgery.

Crater Lake - Northwest Province

Our second road trip took us north to the handicraft center of Foumban. We finished off the visit by nearly gutting our vehicle on a road that was easily passable a year ago. This time we walked the last mile - and climbed the steps to the rim of a small lake blasted into existence by a meteor.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Lincoln turns Two

Our youngest had a quiet, family birthday celebration this year. OK a family celebration with noisy toys like an orange frog that dances to "move it move it" that were right up his rambunctious alley.

We're not sure if Mom or Linc was more excited

The T-Rex ate lots of cake - and tasty little boys

Lincoln is a serious shoe hound (wonder where he got that?) and even stole a matching hat

A birthday fishing trip on the Nyong river

A happy adventurer

Monday, April 16, 2007

Swaneys senior tour de force

We were recently blessed with a visit by Bill's parents - street-named Nanny + Pa John

Predictably, in a short two weeks they saw a good portion of the country, made friends with the locals, and left their grandchildren asking us morning, noon and night when they are coming back.

Eating Local style in Limbe
We enjoyed a great trip to the coastal town of Limbe, where we hiked through the rainforest, swam on a volcanic sand beach, and sampled the local octopus (doesn't taste like chicken)

Intrepid trekkers heading to crater lake

Of course we spent quality time on the homefront, enjoying the pool, visiting the zoo (aka the boys bedroom) - taking some african drum lessons, and doing some shopping.

Some quality time with Nanny

Overlook of Limbe harbor

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Long weekend - Yaounde style

Like any good vacation - our long weekend began with some laughs with our pals the Smiths. This is Stacy (Mom) and Ivy - who Lincoln loves to point out is a baby.

Saturday night was bit of a step back in time for us - as we hosted a Latin dance party - changing our play patio into what turned out to be a very happening dance floor

As you see if you look closely enough- we even scored a disco ball from the student council at the American School

With apologies of the soft-porn, I had to share the essence of cutting rug chez Swaney. Tragically Dad's trademark backspin move was let out of the bag, shocking his colleagues and Cameroonian guests. Luckily, it was not caught on tape.

After a day of rest we celebrated youth day (the excuse for our 3 day weekend). Eli, our clothes hound, went shopping with Mom, while Graham went of a hike with Dad and our friends (you guessed it) the Smiths. Since Yaounde is nestled in some serious hills, we basically drove to the edge of town, eyeballed a hill and went at it. Suburban sprawl - African style - went on for a good mile

Eventually we turned up the slope and made our way past one plot after another that was being used for slash-and-burn agriculture (cut everything down - burn it to fertilize the soil and plant bananas or casava for 1-3 seasons, repeat).

We eventually reached the summit - which was quite satisfying despite the somewhat undefined cemetery that was there.

It was also nice to get a view of a city that is incredibly difficult to navigate, partly due to the topography, but mostly due to the poor planning, and the fact that a stream or small ravine that wouldn't put even a small kink in the road in the U.S. create wildly winding roads.

Yaounde from the "quartier" of Mendong. Our neighborhood lies beyond the hill on the left