Monday, January 12, 2009

Monday, January 12

Tonight we went for a walk before dinner. We passed a group of women on the sidewalk, dressed in long, loose matching dresses and head scarves, as is common for women's clubs or church groups. One of the women caught my eye, and then exclaimed (in French), "Is it possible?! Is that Madame Nanci?!" I recognized her as a former neighbor whom I hadn't seen for maybe ten years. We performed the standard greeting between close friends: we embraced, then kissed each other's left cheek, then right, then left again, then backed up and shook hands. But then of course Paul and I also had to shake the hands of all of the women with her, and say that we were glad to meet them. No names were exchanged: Cameroonians use names very differently from how we do. (That will be the topic for another post sometime.) As my friend Rose and I caught up, the other women chattered away in Ewondo. I remembered enough of that language to understand that the conversation went something like this:

Woman 1"That's the woman who used to run here."
Woman 2 "Oh, yes! Back and forth, back and forth."
Woman 3 "I saw her run right down this sidewalk, every day, every day."
Rose (leaning over to get in her part) "Yes, she used to run and run and run."
Woman 1 "She used to run right on this road. I saw her running here."

As we parted, we again shook hands all around. Cameroonians shake hands a lot.

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