When I left my North Carolina hometown I had to learn to live without my beloved Bojangles iced tea. When I moved to Philly I fell in love with “Skinny Cats” from Lazaro’s pizza. In D.C., I was introduced to Eastern Market.

Every city I’ve lived in had something I thought I couldn’t live without.

Well, in Cameroon there’s plenty I’ll have to leave behind.

Buea, where I’ll be teaching, is a tiny city better known as a gateway for tourists that come to hike the trails of Mount Cameroon, the oldest mountain on any African sea coast. It’s a short drive to the black sand beaches of Limbe, which I can’t wait to experience, but there are no McDonalds.

I know that’s trivial and nauseatingly American but Western staples like the Big Mac mean more to me now that I’ll have to live without them.


Aside from the golden arches here are a few things I’ll miss living in West Africa.


10. Tap water: Most people hate drinking water out of the tap. We’d rather hook up the Brita thingy or stock our fridges with bottled water that in some cases is just tap water with a fancy sticker on it. It’s not hazardous to our health per se it just tastes funny. Unfiltered water in Cameroon doesn’t just taste funny it kills. The water has been the cause for diseases like cholera and typhoid. Pass that Aquafina please!


9. Coco Puffs: I hate grown-up cereals.

You know, Corn Flakes, Special K, Multi-grain-whatever. Give me air-dried marshmallows, silly carton characters on the box and high fructose corn syrup or I ain’t eatin’ it. Trust. My mom will be sending me Captain Crunch by the bulk.


8. Winter: After spending the most grueling winter of my life in Columbus, Ohio I swore off cold climate cities for good. Well, I got what I asked for. With tropical temperatures in Cameroon for the winter there will be no Jack Frost nipping at my nose this Christmas.


7. McDonalds: OK. I saw “Super Size Me.”

I know what’s really in those fries.

But what says America like McDonalds? I think back to a scene from “Love and Basketball” when Toni was going to play basketball ball in Europe and was complaining that they probably didn’t even have a McDonalds. Her teammate put her in check and said: “Girl, please. There’s always a McDonalds.”

Ummm yeah. Not in Cameroon.


6. My hair: I’ve always secretly envied girls with TWAs (teeny weeny Afro). By the summer’s end my hair had grown to an unmanageable length so I used this trip as an excuse to do something daring. Anyone who asks me why I cut it, I reply: Do you know how HOT it is in Africa?! And proudly wave my TWA card.


5. Fast-paced living: The first warning the Youth Advocacy Network director Erin gave me about life in Cameroon was to be prepared to “slow down and wait.”

 Americans take pride in being bound by our day planners and filling our calendars up with meetings, parties, work, and more work. But the more I learn about other countries I realize that not all people prescribe to life on a schedule.

This to me is frightening.


4. Chick- fil-la waffle fries: Enough said.


3. Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia Ice Cream: Cameroon has a bevy of foods that I’m sure I’ll love and brag about when I return home. But one thing they don’t have is a lot of fresh dairy. I was told to binge on all the milk, ice cream, and yogurt I could before I leave.

2. Chipotle!!: Yeah, I might have to be committed after going too long without my chicken burrito with onions, peppers, mild salsa, cream cheese, lettuce, corn and extra rice.


1. My Blackberry: *BBM sad face*


Countdown to Cameroon: 6 Days!


- Heather