One day I heard Mike start up the truck, drive it to the other side of the house, and stop. This was a very uncommon occurrence and I wondered what it was about but didn’t think much further on it. Pretty much the only time the truck is started up is to make the twice monthly trips to Kumba for groceries, or to head out to Bamenda or Douala for meetings. Otherwise it just sits. There is no such thing as a “Sunday drive” here—every trip has a purpose. As for washing the vehicle, it’s not a likely explanation for Mike’s actions because Simon the yardwork man usually does that right in the carport without moving the vehicle.

The mystery was explained as I left the house to go to Friesens’ for supper and I caught sight of Mike coming around the house with a piece of cloth attached to a long bamboo pole. The truck was parked under the solar panels. In a land of short, rickety ladders, and curious people without an individualistic sense of ownership and the personal responsibility it entails, it is necessary that a curiousity like solar panels be mounted well out of reach of anyone who might inadvertently damage them in their inquisitiveness. In this dearth of ladders, Mike clambers atop his truck, and, with the help of aforementioned long pole, washes dust off the panels.

Ladder story number two.

Dan’s skylight is leaking so he has some new “zinc” to put up there. Again the difficulty of getting up high without a ladder is solved in a creative way. I look out the backdoor to see Dan standing on a platform which I soon realize is the kitchen table supporting two chairs. (Rachel reports an incident years ago when a stool was also added to the tower.)

After this long, hot, frustrating day of climbing up and down this makeshift elevator, Mike and Dan built themselves ladder. Shucks; way to take all the fun out of things!


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