So this morning represented the first time on the whole trip that our planned for extra travel time was realized. Everyone was at the car and we were on the road first thing in the morning.
A few words about Yaounde … the city is the Capital of Cameroon and its’ second largest city (after Doula). It's easily the most cosmopolitan city in the country, and is the home to multiple museums, embassies, the presidential palace, etc. Perhaps most importantly, the national football team calls Yaounde home—Go Les Lions Indomptables! (The Indomitable Lions).
Architecture and infrastructure in Yaounde is to architecture and infrastructure in Tali just as New York architecture is to Appalachian architecture—it really is a whole different world.
We reached the embassy safely—and on time more or less—and were ushered into the USA. It was absolutely uncanny. Sadly no pictures were allowed, but it was as if building from the USA (in its entirety) had been picked up and dropped there. Things like a sprinkler system, video security, baby changing tables—even a toys for tots box in the lobby—were exactly what you would find anywhere USA. It was really a strange experience.
We met with Robert Jackson, the new US Ambassador, and several of his education experts. We told the story of the University mission, shared the master plan, and talked about our recent experiences in the village. It was great discussion, including valuable information/clarifications on how to be eligible for various resources and what the Embassy's role is in supporting education in Cameroon. Everyone was extremely helpful and gracious. As we move forward, we will definitely need a plan to keep the embassy engaged and informed.
We celebrated the successful meeting with a lovely dinner and drinks in Yaounde before getting back in the car for another 4-5 hour drive to Buea. As a side note, the restaurant (on top of a hill) actually had cell reception! Wayne, Corrie, Martin, and I all got to call home for the first time in days and days! It made us look forward to tomorrow. Our flight leaves at midnight!