Day 4 in the jungle and its beginning to feel like an episode of ‘I’m a Celebrity Get me out of Here’ – that’s not a bad thing, we’re bonding and it’s definitely more Happy Valley than Snake Pitt! …
Base Camp is Bafoussam and BASE is right …. Hygiene and sanitation are not a priority in this country but we are acclimatising and Bafoussam has flushing ‘toilets’ which believe me is a welcome relief at the start and end of each day!!
Similar to the celebs in the Aussie Outback, the team are settling into individual roles. We have SAS Nick always calm and capable of everything, GI Joe (Tom) in a crisis I’m standing behind him!, Gran Papa (Micko) never a cross word and always ready with a hug, Bear Grylls (Brendan) probably more suited a nickname for SAS Nick but Brendan is such a teddy bear. Sammy our uncontested King and leader, Finola our Queen(and my angel she had the meds when I needed them), myself and Ursula the mammies complete with a bottomless supply of food, medication, sun cream, tissues and lots & lots of wipes! And then there are the children – Kamila, Thays and Paola (Instagram Princess). The girls add glitz, glamour and enthusiasm unspoilt by cynicism.
Back to day 4, it’s Sunday and we are heading to celebrate Mass with the people of Batoufam before continuing our work. Onto the bus we get and make the 45 minute drive from the town of flushing toilets!Back to day 4, it’s Sunday and we are heading to celebrate Mass with the people of Batoufam before continuing our work. Onto the bus we get and make the 45 minute drive from the town of flushing toilets!
We arrive at the Church and are immediately humbled by the welcome. What follows is a two hour celebration – singing, dancing, hugging …. If Ireland is the land of 1000 welcomes Batoufam is the village of 1000 thank yous. We leave the church high on emotion and ready to work. There’s a lot to do as we had the day before added the renovation of the primary school to our project.
We walk from the Church, don our work clothes and are stuck in for approximately 30 minutes when the invite comes for lunch in the Priest’s house.
It’s now 1pm, we’ve just five hours of daylight remaining and there’s so much to do … but we can’t insult these wonderful people who have nothing, yet want to give. Finola and I decide to take one for the team and head back up the hill.
The priest like his flock lives in poverty, no luxuries are evident because there aren’t any (except he does have one of the only two loos in the village – it doesn’t flush but a bucket of water will do!)
We walk in and are faced by questioning eyes – where is everyone else? Finola who is loving her 6th year French explains that the team are working . To our mortification we see the platters of food laid out on the table – we know what a sacrifice it is, many won’t eat today because feeding their guests is a priority.
To add insult to injury we declare ‘Je suis vegetarian’ and pile our plates with what we recognise- potatoes, doghnuts (a local speciality) and pineapple. Our vegetarian declaration we soon regret when Paola joins us and tucks into a delicious looking piece of chicken. Better safe than sorry as they say and the Bordeaux was delicious
The troops slowly but surely make it up the hill in groups of two, so as not to disrupt the work, to partake of the meal to the Priest’s delight.
Back to work we go and spend the rest of the afternoon scrubbing the school which has been neither swept nor washed in 25 years…..
After work we are treated to a tour of the ‘Palace’ by Paul who is the local cultural advisor and historian. We learn lots about the King, local customs and traditions and about the many many many wives of his majesty.
Dinner follows, it would appear we are no longer vegetarians!!
Back on the bus for the trip to Bafoussam and a couple of warm beers before bed.
Thank god for my pal who sent me off with a sewn up sheet that I could climb into …..
Tomorrow’s another day.