Cameroon 1983

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
a memoir about my travels in africa.

Submitted: May 24, 2017

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Submitted: May 24, 2017

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Cameroon 1983

We all sat around the bare wooden table in the bungalow's dimly lit dining room. Jean Pierre was busy laying the table with some utilitarian looking cutlery. A mosquito lazily circled the solitary light bulb that dangled above our heads, sizing up it's next meal. One of the French contingency was finishing lecturing me on why 'marmalade' was feminine not masculine (or was it the other way around), and now Jean Pierre was clattering around in the steam filled kitchen, serving up dinner. He eventually emerged with a small bowl of haricot vert, whose dark-greenness suggested them to be both flavorful and nutritious. There was however, nowhere near enough to go around. He then presented us with a handful of boiled and buttered potatoes, the only ones that he that he could find in the impoverished market. The beans and potatoes formed the first course. We politely passed the bowls around, and we each studiously took what we thought was be our fair share. It amounted to about three beens and half a potato each. I looked at the meager meal on my plate then ate slowly relishing every bite.  The beans were perfectly cooked with a slight snap to them when you bit down. They had an intriguingly furry texture and a depth of taste that is typical only to this variety of bean. The potatoes too were marvelous, young with a rich earthiness, coupled with a hint of sour just beneath the skin. If only there were more. I was ravenous after a long day working in the hot sun. When we were done we kept our knives and forks, as the French do and Jean Pierre cleared away the plates ready for the meat course. He reentered the room with a beaming smile, and steaming pile of sliced antelope. The smell sickened my stomach. We quietly passed the plate around the table and when it came to me I took the smallest piece I could find and put it on my plate. I did not want to offend. I passed the tray of meat to Abel, who looked at me and said, "Don't you want some gravy?" and before I could answer he had ladled some of the now luke warm, grey liquid, that I had been trying to avoid, onto my meat. I stared at my plate for a while and then picked up my knife and tried to scrape away some of the pinkish, cheesy tasting juices that had oozed out of the slice. I then put a tiny piece on my fork and raised it to my mouth, shedding a tear as the strong rancid flavor simultaneously filled both my mouth and my nostrils. Michelle, who had seen the tear roll down my cheek onto my plate looked over sympathetically and said, "Ah! Yes! Even for us it is a little strong, maybe two weeks makes it a little too gamey?" and it was then that I discovered that the bush antelope we had been eating had been kept unrefrigerated in a galvanized bucked, on the kitchen floor, next to the sink for more almost a fortnight. I also realized that I had been mistaken when I had thought that the odor that had trailed poor Jean Pierre for the past two weeks, was not in fact a personal hygiene issue, but emanated from the rotting carcass that he had been lovingly preparing for dinner each evening.


© Copyright 2017 Britannia Leigh. All rights reserved.

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