Living Off The Land
CAC volunteer Lea Hinnen blogged from Kumba, Cameroon and our partnership with Cameroon Football Development Program.
July 20th 2016. Monday morning, 6am – Kumba, Cameroon: You might ask yourself why anyone would get up at 6am, if in reality they could sleep in until at least 6.45? Well, if you ask yourself that question, you clearly never had “Beignets”…
Week four in Cameroon, we were located in Kumba, the base of our partner Cameroon Football Development Program (CFDP). While it was nice not having to translate everything from French to English anymore and being out of the dusty and busy city of Douala, we soon found ourselves with one small problem: There seemed to be no breakfast place open before we would get picked up at 7:15am for the session. No breakfast place except a little stand on the side of the road with a ‘Mama’ setting up her pots.
As we sat down at the improvised table every morning watching the rooster march around and wake up the neighborhood, ‘Mama’ would scoop some sort of raw dough out of a bucket to then drop it into a pot of boiling oil. Round, light-brown doughy balls soon filled up the entire pot. A few minutes later, there they were: ‘Beignets’ – or ‘Pof Pofs’ – as they call them here. For non-French and non-Pigeon speakers, beignets are fried dough balls of to us unknown ingredients, which taste especially amazing when you add sugar or put a piece of dark chocolate on the inside to melt. You could almost compare them to Dunkin’ Donuts munchkins – just triple the size, double the taste and take them straight out of the vat…With the motto ‘eat when you can’ and their amazing taste, the number of beignets in the morning soon jumped from three to six.
While beignets were adding on to our hips, our lunches made us feel less bad about it – especially at Ashu’s place. Ashu, who is also known as ‘the General’ and is in charge of finances for CFDP, lives in a beautiful compound with his whole family. Their house is surrounded by all sorts of plants, trees and crops from which his sister and mother prepared a big feast for us. From corn over yams to plantains, everything came straight out of his garden or their nearby farm. Even the chicken and milk were probably straight out of his yard: As we see only two or three chickens, he tells us he has well over 30, including a bunch of roosters.
On top of that, a bunch of goats along with their kids would jump around and drive ‘Rocket’, one of Ashu’s four dogs, crazy. As cute and innocent as all of these animals looked, the General thinks differently: He says that they would mercilessly make sure that he is up and wide awake every morning around the same time as we would be sitting down to have our beignets. My take on solving this problem? I think he should have himself some beignets ready when the noisy chaos of chickens, roosters, dogs and goats commences at 6am…