Spectator culture

Once again, we have seen evidence that Cameroonians entertain themselves with real life. The FES children take swimming lessons at a local hotel pool every year during their Dry Season session, so of course I have been enlisted to help the little guys learn to splash around and feel comfortable in the water.

The first day or two we had the pool as well as the poolside area to ourselves. The pool is nothing much to write home about. Walter checked it out on Sunday before lessons started, returning with a disturbing description, not so much for what he said, but for what he didn’t say: “If you stand in the shallow end, you can see your feet.” In fairness, the shallow end is deep enough that only one of our two 5-year-olds can touch the bottom and keep his head about water at the same time, but the water is decidedly murky and full of floating leaves etc because the pool is not cleaned properly nor does the filter system work. Unlike some other years, this year they are keeping the chemical levels in the pool mostly correct, so we just shrug and try not to notice how the presence of 15 splashing kids causes all the dust to rise up from the bottom.

Back to the spectators. After a few days, word must have got around that the white people were coming to the pool regularly in the afternoon and doing strange things, so we’ve had a crowd ever since. I kept hoping for a return to the unwatched state of our first two days until I realized it was likely no coincidence that people were hanging around the pool when our lessons were going on. They do get television here, but I guess nothing beats white people’s crazy antics for entertainment value.


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