Tag Archives: Africa

A dollar a day: The European Approach

According to statistics taken from the past 10 years, about 60% of the population in Cameroon lives on less than 1$ per day. While I have lived there, I came to realise that despite the cruelty which derives from these news, 1$ is worth much more in Cameroon than it is for instance in the Netherlands. For 1$ (roughly 0,67€) I was able to take a cab to work and back and to buy a decent lunch, including some fresh fruits. For the same money here in the Netherlands, I could not even get the peel of a pineapple. Therefore I decided to conduct an experiment: I want to live for 5 days (Monday-Friday) on 1$ a day. This includes the preconditions of preparing 1 hot meal per day (with a minimum of 2 ingredients), no additional drinks during my work (except tab water) and no usage of pre-bought groceries such as pepper, oil or milk. I will only have 1$ per day (that is to mention that I will not start with 5$ on Monday and buy shitload). Starting on Monday morning with my 1 week budget of 5$ (3,40€), I will see how far I get with fresh food, enough nutrition and a smile on my face.

Monday

500gr Spaghetti = 0,25€
50oml Tomato sauce = 0,28€
80gr (1) onion = 0.10€

= 0,63€

Since I returned to Groningen only in the early morning, I haven’t had any time to do the groceries before going to work. Thus I had to wait till around 4pm to finally start the experiment. Up till then, I only drank water. While I used all the tomato sauce and the onion, I still have lots of spaghetti left for tomorrow and even feel slightly saturated and very satisfied, as I managed to even safe 4cent.

Tuesday

125gr Mozzarella = 0,39€
6 halfbaked rolls = 0,32€

= 0,71€

Having saved 4cent on Monday, I could spare the additional money to buy these two luxurious ingredients. Together with some pasta from the previous day I managed to get 2 rolls with cheese and pasta for dinner and still have 3 rolls left for breakfast and lunch tomorrow – woohoo! Luckily, I was able to also have some dry pasta for breakfast (and for lunch, as I cooked a bigger bowl), so I spent my day not completely hungry. However, pasta without any salt or oil (or for that case anything that helps building taste) is far away from being delicious. So far, I am amazed how much but also how little one is able to purchase having that amount of money.

Wednesday

I am not proud of it, but I have decided to terminate my experiment immediately. The reason for this is that after two days of only having dry pasta and water, my lack of vitamins caused steady headaches and loss of concentration. I am still confident that the experiment could work out, but preferably conducting it in a group of people, who each have 1$ a day to spare. Then having a community dinner might even be delicious. Having 1$ per day as a single person in the Netherlands, you can survive, but it is hard work which requires a certain amount of self-confidence and trust, not to mention spending 30 minutes in a supermarket, trying to compare the best deals 🙂

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many more roads to follow…

With having returned to my safe harbour of The Netherlands, the core purpose of this blog (reporting about my time in Estonia and Cameroon) now has become obsolete. I have travelled 6 countries, 3 time zones and 2 continents. I wore shorts at -28°C and long sleeves at +32°C, I ate amazingly fresh fruits and disgustingly old bread. I drank the nicest juices and liquors next to the grossest dairies and beers and I have met people from more than 40 countries and every single continent, with meaningful and authentic discussion to pure pisstakes over drinks at 5am. Now I am back in the Netherlands with a more down-to-earth approach to life, but I don’t consider this blog to be over, it much rather just began. See, now that I am more and more reaching for the end of my Bachelor studies I need to find out what it is that I want in and from life. Clearly it involves travelling above all! Therefore I will keep this blog running, one post at a time. And maybe, if I am in the mood, I might change the core idea behind this blog being a travelling diary and use it for different causes. So stay alert for updates and please please please continue being active on the SOCIALVIBE, as any cause presented is a cause worth spending some minutes on! It has been a pleasure to blog and I appreciate all the comments and feedback you guys have given me over the time.

Till soon I hope!


Anno 2011: Do’s and Don’ts in Cameroon

Much like its Estonian brethren back in 2010, I decided to provide you with some essential information about what and what not to do, eat, see in the rare case you ever make it to Cameroon, or more specifically to Buea and the South West region. Since I have only spent three weeks here, of course the facts mentioned will be rather superficial, but I am very unhappy to inform that due to severe health issues, I have decided to end my stay here immediately. I’d really love to stay, but with all the nightmares and panic attacks I have had during the past days and weeks, I cannot picture myself living here for another 4 months, so I will return to the Netherlands for now and will try to work out things to get a new placement as quickly as possible.

Anyways, as usual, don’t take my words below too serious and bear in mind that I tend to make false assumptions, unsophisticated conclusions and hasty decisions:

Do try the local cuisine. Especially Fufu and Eru are dishes you will never find in Europe. While I couldn’t find out the exact content of Eru, Fufu is made from Yams or Plantains, this banana alike vegetable.

Don’t ever again dare to try Fufu nor Eru! While it is really interesting to have one bite from each, that is as far as one should go with it. Even the locals don’t really eat Fufu or Eru. When it comes to using plantain, the much rather boil and fry it, to make local fries. Those are quite nice to be honest.

Do expect to taste the freshest and juiciest fruits in your entire life! Pineapples, Papaya, Coconuts have never tasted so good in my life and contribute a large part to my daily diet, also because you can purchase them at a really low prices, such as 45 cent for half a pineapple.

Don’t expect to find your “normal” food in any kind of store. In fact, “stores” might not even be applicable, rather they are “Provision stores”, where you can get the basics, such as bread, vegetables or beer. I haven’t had any cheese or milk here so far (as they are priced at a premium, since imported, level).

Do expect to spend a good amount of time leaning over the toilet, especially after having tried some homemade food. It tastes really nice for the most part, but the last few days I was troubled with stomach issues at a constant base.

Don’t underestimate the moderate weather climate. It may look like it’s gonna rain soon, but really it is burning your skin. I have used my sunlotion for most of the time, but those rare occasions where I didn’t I had some rough skin pieces the following day, not to mention the millions of bits I get every day, regardless of having used mosquito spray.

Do open your doors to all sorts of animals, such as snails, geckos, mice, cockroaches and spiders. Well, they find their way in anyways… 🙂

Don’t expect to be handled as a “normal” person here. After all, we are the “white people”, therefore we have money, lots of money to just give without asking. That is why I have been ripped off quite frequently by people in “shops”, bars or taxis. I try to take it as a rather normal experience, but you might wanna be cautious about how to position yourself.

Do get used to share a cab with 6 other people + the occasional driver. For the striking amount of 15-25 cent you get to be squeezed in your seat with no possibilities to buckle up or even hold on to something. You will experience detours all the time and the universal sign to get people’s attention as potential customers is the ever-lasting horn, which serves as pretty much any mean of communication on the street.

And now, since you probably only show interest in the pictures, here they are…

The best restaurant in town...

At a fancy hotel, nearby the Botanic Garden in Limbe - really beautiful, really expensive...

On the beach in Limbe, the Mt. Cameroon in its back...

Yet another stunning view at Mt. Cameroon, taken from my house's porch...

My favorite taxi slogan of all times...


7 days in Cameroon

It has been some days since my last post, I admit that. But the truth is, once you actually start living here in Cameroon, you tend to become really slow, primarily taking the actual walking/working. With my rather long legs I overtake everyone on the streets just to find myself completely exhausted at the bottom of the road. You don’t run here, as long as you are not working out. Walk slowly and eventually you will get to where you want to be. It is due to the extreme heat and high humidity that putting your body under extreme conditions seems rather useless. The blood remains warm no matter what, so walking slowly really helps!

Life here in Buea couldn’t possibly go any slower, or we’d start moving backwards. My working day (if that definition is really accurate) starts somewhat around 9ish and ends when…sort of when I feel like it has to end for me. We are 4 people sitting at a big table, all more or less desperate for the Internet to facilitate our work, but since we got a decent connection installed in our house last week, my normal working day became a 24/7 issue, with being online as much a possible (that is, if the frequent power cuts wouldn’t hamper the process). The power cuts occur around once a day, and normally wont last much longer than a few minutes. Last weekend, however, a heavy (heavy for me as a German) storm made its appearance right on top of our small house and caused a widely spread power cut for more than 10 hours, leaving us in the dark with no coffee…  🙂 On Friday evening I went out with Tom, Captain (the producer of the music Tom is using for the HIV/Aids project) and Abigail, one of the artists for the same project to see a concert up in Buea Town. The music was really nice and even though I mysteriously lost 30,000 franc (about 45€) while attending the concert, I will keep that night in good memory.

We spent my first Sunday in Cameroon visiting the market of Buea, buying amazingly fresh veggies and fruits (half a pineapple of about 30 euro cent!)  and witnessed the most disgusting sort of meat and met storage I ever came across.  Let us play a game: who can guess what part of the body do you see on the picture below?

At the local market - kinda wanna make u become a Veg straightaway, he!

The overall experience was breath-taking and I am sure we will make it a weekly tradition to go to the market, while the rest of the country is spending literally 8h in church! Going to the church will also be part of my agenda at some point, but for now I don’t see myself spending hours dancing and singing… The same night, we were having a nice barbecue outside with a self-made grill, using the nearby banana leafs to make the fire. We had grilled and roasted vegetables and potatoes and even though the others liked the meat, I am sure we’ll mostly have vegetarian food in the future, woohoo! I am having a day off today (and maybe also tomorrow, as it will be Woman’s Day which is being celebrated here to a much wider extent than in Germany).

One thing that is quite annoying is the way my mind is responding to the anti malaria pills I have to take once a week. I am having severe nightmares every other night, something I haven’t experienced yet. I will quit the writing for now but publish some images I managed to capture during the last few days.

This is the patch I have to slowly walk down and up every day to take a taxi to work

A tiny baby sleeping at a sun-covered stand at the market. An image I just HAD to take...

At the local market with the spectacular view at Mt. Cameroon in the far distance

Someone seems to be working on a career after politics..


New Destination, new haircut, new layout…

After my time in Tartu, Estonia is finally over and my internship is about to begin, I decided to change the layout of this blog. All old entries will remain, just the appearance will alter. In addition to that, I have changed my own appearance: “All gone”! My hair disgusted me in the end and taking into consideration the extreme heat I will have to face once in Cameroon, it has been a reasonable decision. But my hair will grow back and eventually I shall look the same…

Currently, I am busy with collecting everything I want to take along on the trip. Since I have booked 46kg of luggage for both flights (Hamburg-Paris-Douala and return) I can take plenty of stuff. However, with an average degree of 35°C each day, my wardrobe won’t be too heavy. That is why I will bring a bunch of books to read, as well as my Russian papers to continue learning that wonderful language. Since I will be living somewhat close to the only English-taught university of Cameroon, hopefully I could explore their library as well.

In addition to clothing, books and the obvious laptop, a lot of money has to be invested in having all sorts of medical precautions, such as sunlotion (level 50!!), spray against mosquito bits or disposable gloves, not to mention the 150,00€ to be spent on malaria pills. Furthermore, I am doing my own fundraising right now, trying to get friends from my local community to collect some minor gifts, such as writing paper, pencils or toys for kids. Hopefully, I will receive plenty! Also, I have changed the SOCIALVIBE activity on this blog. Now you and me are supporting CAMFED, an agency that is aiming at empowering girls and women in rural areas in Africa to overcome poverty. So in a way, this is what I will be doing soon! Please take some minutes to help me raise a few bucks!

This will be my last post on European soil. Next time you’ll read something about my being, it shall come from the brand new location of Buea in…wait for it…Cameroon!!! 🙂


Hepatitis A + B, Typhus and Yellow Fever – Vaccinations in preparation

  • Hepatitis A + B
  • Diphtheria
  • Yellow Fever
  • Poliomyelitis

I could keep adding potential threats to this list for ever and ever. When I first checked what vaccinations I might need for both Liberia and Estonia, I found myself reading about all possible attacks of ticks to your body. So in order to be fully prepared, of course I have to get every protection available and without doubts Liberia is situated in an area where more is needed than in Estonia.

However, this is where it becomes tricky. Hepatitis A + B vaccinations cannot be done in one go. I have to get three shots, each with a gap of 6 weeks in between. Now, I have very little experience in the Estonian hospitals (yet!) so I rather want to get my second shot some time in September (when back in Germany for a few days), which only leaves me 1 specific day.

Now something off topic: I am flying in 6 days! 6! I will spend two days in Tallinn and then make my way to my new dorm, which apparently only costs €67ish + utilities per month! I would say that is “so totally awesome”, but since I do not like that word, I’d rather consider “ass-kickin”!

This will be my last entry on German soil for quite a while!I will update once Estonia is kicking in…