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The Accommodations

Home sweet home

To call our accommodations in Cameroon basic would be an understatement. In order to take us out of our comfort zone and understand the challenges of local living (not to mention being closer to St. Valentine’s Orphanage), we stay in very modest hostel-style housing.

We have separate bedrooms (each containing two twin beds), a shared kitchen and communal bathrooms. Brushing our teeth is like an episode of Wild Kingdom as we watch spiders on the bathroom mirror stalk unsuspecting flies. Toilets flush occasionally and toilet paper is a luxury.

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Our alarm clock is a trio of time-illiterate roosters that crow from 4:30am (long before the sun peeks over the horizon) until just before midnight. Our kitchen lacks plumbing, and the bucket below the sink keeps us acutely aware of how much water we’re using to wash dishes.

When too many of us weigh down the bus we’ve rented to haul us around for the week, we must disembark to help it get up steep hills. There is one television with three channels and spotty reception, and our only online option is an Internet café that takes five minutes to load Gmail.

The overwhelmingly positive atmosphere is a testament to the stellar attitudes of our contest winners, Katie and Cheryl, who completely embrace these surroundings and welcome whatever comes their way. Rather than annoying or impeding our group, these conditions are adding to the adventure.

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In adjusting our expectations (by not having any), the entire experience has been enhanced. Our group is more than happy to forego Facebook or get out and walk beside the bus because we’re aware how very lucky we are to be here.