Monday, January 8, 2007

Graham's Birthday at the Track

At the starting line

This year Graham decided this year to celebrate his 8th birthday with a racing party at the "Chuckie Cheese of Africa" - the local go-kart track. Some of his best pals were able to come out to start their Xmas vacation in style - and the parents got into the action as well. Even Mom took a spin.

Our friends the Sousa's won the driving awards - Thomas was the best/safest driver (though Eli was a contender) - while William was the hands down favorite for the most fearless award after a very memorable lead-footed adventure that featured excellent driving, a spin out, and some very scared parents.

There was the obligatory cake and games like pin-the-checkered flat-on-the-racetrack with the movie "Cars" as the theme.

Graham getting a good look at the race with some help from his friend Richard

Fun and Games

Lincoln getting into the act (as usual)

Boys at the Beach - Kribi, Cameroon

Kribi at sunset

After surviving almost a year in Cameroon we finally made it to the one place that has something of a claim to being a tourist destination - the beaches at Kribi. While there is certainly room for improvement - it was a genuinely a class act, and a very beautiful place.
We had almost a week of relaxation on the beach - enjoying fabulous food right on the beach and hanging out with friends from Yaounde.
Local Transport (and grocery store)
Picking up a hitchhiker
One local landmark is Kribi Falls - one of the few places in the world where a freshwater river terminates in a waterfall while meeting the ocean.
Fishing under the falls
Just enjoying the view
We also took the chance to go upriver in a "pirogue" or dugout canoe with some locals. Although the authenticity of the "pygmy" village we visited was most definitely questionable, we did get to see a troop of wild monkeys, some beautiful scenery, and we got a good family picture.
Pygmies at heart
An alleged backdrop to the original Tarzan movie
While not as colorful as other parts of Cameroon - Kribi won us over as an accessible, but isolated retreat from the onslaught of daily life.
Farewell for now

A Wet and Wonderful Christmas

The annual "stair shot"

Well it didn't snow - but we did have a festive and fun Christmas.

We had a really nice Christmas Eve with some good friends, and combined three sets of traditions to make a fun evening that included donut balls, taco salad, and our own personal Xmas pageant. Not quite the same as a snowy evening with our families, but special and lasting in its own way.
Angels and a cow
and Mary and Joseph
Singing with our pal Leora
To our relief Santa did find his way to Yaounde - with a sleigh full of goodies. He and his reindeer were very well provisioned by our three very enthusiastic elves. All of them had full stockings, though there were chunks of coal at the bottom - particulary for Lincoln who has gotten an early start on the terrible twos by acquiring a hitting habit, showing an truly impressive stubborn streak, and (of course) making full use of the Swaney frown.

As usual Santa was very well informed, and the big gift was a "Water Totter" - which is a teeter-totter that you use in the pool. Amazingly - despite heavy use (indoors and in the pool) we haven't had any serious accidents yet.
Accident Report - to be filed

Mom and Dad enjoyed the holidays by relaxing at the beach (see next posting), and breaking out the dancing shoes for a New Years outing with friends.

Overall, a really nice holiday spent with good friends - with plenty of relaxing time as a family.