The Aroma of Dry Season

I have always loved the smell of fall in Michigan.  And the scent of spring after a long and cold winter is a gift.  So, I’ve sort of known that seasons have their own smell, but I didn’t realize how distinctive they can be.

Yaoundé has two seasons: dry and rainy, which some might choose to label as the dusty or muddy seasons instead.  At the end of the rainy season someone mentioned that although dry season was coming soon, it wasn’t here yet.  They could tell by the smell.  It didn’t smell like dry season, so it hadn’t yet arrived.   I was surprised that the smell of the season would be so distinct and suddenly change the season, but just a few days later, I understood.

We are now in dry season and there is dust everywhere.  Harmattan is what I kept hearing people refer to, and the haze of dust that fills the air and settles on everything is here with it’s very distinct taste and aroma.  I’m not exactly sure how to describe it other than dry with a bit dustiness.  Those who have experienced this season before think of the smell as familiar, but for me it’s new and distinct.

A plant during dry season

I don’t know which season I prefer yet.  There are nice things about the dry season, like how quickly clothes dry in the sun and the various flora and fauna that appear at this time of year.  As for which season creates more mess from the boys playing outside in it, there is no clear winner here either.  I honestly don’t think it matters; our kids can get exceptionally dirty in any and every season.  And, they can track their mess into the house anytime of year!

Someone washed just one foot so we could compare.

Soccer Saturdays

We are thankful for the community we have here in Yaoundé.  Throughout the fall, the kids have been able to enjoy playing soccer with the other kids that live around us.  It’s been nice to have parents that are willing to run the program, and lots of other kids around to play with.

One of the highlights of the season was a friendly game against a local kids team, Green City.  The game was highly anticipated by the kids, it took place at Eila’s school which has a very nice field to play on with lines, and they wore jerseys and everything.

They ended up tying Green City 1-1.

Here’s a few pictures from the game:

Eila’s School

Eila is attending a combination middle school and high school (7-12).  It’s a bit of a drive from where we live, but it has a beautiful campus with lots of space.  She is really enjoying the school and her teachers and is finding it refreshing after being in a french collège (middle school).  Here are some pictures.

Ready for School. First day of seventh grade.

Reading on the school bus.

Eila’s school buildings. This is taken from one building looking at another.

Another view of the school. (It’s upside down, but if you click on it, it’s the right way — I can’t figure out how to fix it)


Mountains in Summertime

‎As the weather has gotten warmer, we have been trying to make the most of our time outside of class to enjoy the beauty of God’s creation surrounding us as well as develop deeper relationships with people here in France. So, we have done several hiking trips in the mountains nearby.  Here are a few pictures from our excursions:

From the top of the mountain in our backyard, with a view of Mt Blanc behind us

La Chartreuse (near Grenoble)

Chamrousse & Lac Achard with Les Bonnetons

The gorgeous flowers also cause some people (like Brian) to suffer from seasonal allergy symptoms.


However, the pleasant aroma that they give off is in great contrast to the scent of the pastures that are all around us in this small town.

And since it is a small town, we had to go to Chambery for Thad to visit the orthodontist. It was a day full of delayed trains and changed plans that meant we were able to do a little unexpected sight-seeing!  Then, Brian and Josiah had to take a special trip to visit the town, just for fun.  Eila, on the other hand, was forced to do sight-seeing and learning on a field trip with her FLE (French as a 2nd language) class to Chambery.  It wasn’t as bad as she had feared.

Half Round Tower at the Chateau du Duc (until 1860 the home of the ruler of Savoie – not yet part of France)

Fountain with Four Elephants,
photo credit: Thaddeus

Learning Outside the Classroom (for Josiah)

Josiah went on a camping trip in the mountains of Arêches with his class from school a few weeks ago and then had another mountain hike to the Fort de la Batterie today.  He has had a lot of opportunities to learn about many different things – including French language – outside of the classroom.  These field trips have been pretty amazing.

With his class, Josiah has toured a cheese factory in Beaufort and a lumbermill (not to mention the steel mill and skiing trips that he already enjoyed this winter).  After the three straight days speaking and listening to French only, he was really encouraged by his progress with language learning.

At the Beaufort Cheese Factory, it did not smell pleasant.

They learned about ways to experience nature through their five senses – one at a time.

Nice classroom for learning about plants in the mountains.

He also had the chance this May to go to Lausanne, Switzerland, where his class was able to visit the Hands-On Science Center and the Olympics Museum.  His class had won a special contest with their report on the para-olympic athletes.  It was pretty cool.


Bonjour, Bonjour Dit Le Soleil

Josiah memorized another poem for school.  Here’s the text:

Bonjour, bonjour, dit le soleil

Au bon foin qui sent le pain chaud,

À la faux qui étincelle,

À l’herbe et aux coquelicots.

Bonjour, bonjour, dit le soleil,

Il fait chaud et il fait beau.

Le monde est plein de merveilles.

Il fait bon se lever tôt.

by Claude Roy

This translates to:

The sun says hello

Hello, hello, says the sun

To the hay smells of hot bread,

To the sparkling scythe,

To the grass and the poppies.

Hello, hello, says the sun,

It’s warm and beautiful.

The world is full of wonders.

It’s good to get up early.