How To Get Attention

One easy way to get lots of attention in here is to fall on your face and end up with two black eyes and a large bandage in between. The third world mantra is always look down when you walk. Unfortunately I forgot at that moment and instinctively saved my laptop, not myself and fell on my face on a rocky dirt road. Dazed and confused (borrowed from an indie movie), lying face down on the road and bleeding profusely from the bridge of my nose, several people came running to help. To stop the bleeding, someone gave me a square of foam rubber and I hobbled back to my house, with in neighbor following behind, carrying my possessions.

Patrick, the high school principal arrived in minutes and took me to the Catholic hospital in Nginikom. The rocky dirt road up to the hospital is a challenge; one hopes to arrive before the patient dies. I was hoping the Dutch surgeons were there but they hadn’t arrived yet for their annual visit. My only choice was the American missionary doctor, who did not even look at my face after the nursing assistant cleaned and bandaged the wound. Within a day, the skin under my eyes turned the same purple color as my streaked hair. I never leave home without Arnica Montana, a naturapathic remedy for bruising. So as the days passed the bruises slowly disappeared. I am not out of the woods yet with this cut but I am definitely walking with my gaze to the ground.

The amount of concern I am getting, possibly because of the color of my skin, is overwhelming.. I am aware that when I go into a hospital or the MTN offices I am given preferential treatment over Africans. Yesterday, Simon and I drove to Bamenda to withdraw funds from the ATM, and buy food and supplies not available in Fundong. One of my least favorite places in the world, Bamenda is hot, crowded, congested with potholed roads that create traffic jams, and hawkers selling anything from tomatoes to moist piles of used clothes from Europe and the States. After stocking up on butter, saltines, powdered milk, and passable French baguettes and after Simon’s numerous lengthy errands, including buying new tires for his car, we attempted to leave town. Twenty five minutes later we escaped the chaos and were on the road to Fundong. Still not satisfied with the treatment I received at Njinikom hospital, Simon suggested we stop at Bingo hospital, known to be the best in the northwest. Again we were given access without waiting very long. The consultation room was the treatment room in need of a paint job and better lightning.. The young Cameroonian doctor agreed the wound was still infected. Again the iodine solution was the only antiseptic available for her to use. The total bill was $3. I am hoping this will be my last hospital visit.

I’m sitting in the computer lab at the high school patiently waiting for a window to open on my laptop. There is a wi fi connection but it works as slow as dial up without the sound effects. Suddenly the rains begin, the internet flip flops on and off and finally we are in the dark; the electric is gone. Gone actually for almost 24 hours this time. I cook pasta and tomato green pepper sauce before the sun set. And the rest of the evening I listened to audio books in the dark. The power was still off in the morning and I started worrying how was I going to recharge all my phones, computer and other techno devices. Around noon the lights came back.

The electric is off several times a day, the internet starts flailing by early afternoon and then disappears. The utilities were all privatized in the last ten years, the government making a killing on the sales and the money disappearing. The American AES corporation supplied the power until it broke even last year and left. It is a mystery as to who is supplying the electric now. There was a rumor that the internet signals are coming from Israel; their military is here training the local army so anything is possible. But ultimately it’s the government who controls the net. And I am sure they are becoming nervous the more young people learn how to use computers and find out what is going on in the real world. This presents a great threat to the president and his cronies who have been in power for 30 years.

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