What a difference a day makes

Well, not a day, actually; a month-but can't you hear someone crooning the song?

Kumba made a very different impression on me this time around. When we first came through in August on our way home from Bamenda, Cameroon was still new to me; the look of towns, buildings, and roads-and the way of life in general-were things I was trying to wrap my brain around. I didn't know what I expected Kumba to look like, but it wasn't what I expected. For one, the city (like all others in Cameroon) looked so spread out-it didn't fit my idea of an urban settlement. The buildings looked so small, colourless, and dusty. Overall, the experience was one of observation overload.

Not so anymore! Driving into Kumba after a month in the village, things are not only familiar, but capable of inspiring appreciation. I was impressed by the size of the buildings (2 stories some of them!), their permanence (built with concrete or sturdy, painted wood), their colour (everything is painted, even if most houses are the same shade of yellow), and the symmetry of the town (straight roads lead off of other straight roads, all lined with buildings fairly regularly spaced). Some houses even had tile or brickwork facades, and some had front porches with fancy concrete railings. Paved streets also highly impressed me. Even the side roads, sprinkled with just enough sand or fine gravel to keep them from turning to soup, are luxurious-how wonderful to walk at a normal pace without slipping in the mud and picking your way around ruts and mudholes!

And it's a city! Granted, not a very big city; I believe it's only some 50,000-despite highly optimist reports of up to 400,000 people (actually reflects the population of the entire district)-but markedly not a village. For a farm girl, I should be ashamed of myself for how citified I've become in the past few years that I was so happy to be in a city again, however small.


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