The Cameroon Night Box

Kayla’s Worldly Intentions: A Column by Kayla DeVault

Not many people have the privilege – or is it ignorance? – to travel with a group to a remote village in West Africa. I managed to get on board with an Engineers Without Borders project in Cameroon last winter break. I lived through the real Cameroonian experience: police barricades with Yellow Card checks, red dust in my lungs, green oranges that were sweeter than orange oranges, parasites, intermittent electricity, water that cannot be clean and the right temperature at the same time, and over eighty marriage proposals in a matter of weeks. What was unique about our trip, however, was that it fell over the holidays. Now how many people can say they’ve spent New Year’s Eve in an African “night box”?
There are a few things you should know before going clubbing in the jungle of middle-of-nowhere Cameroon:
1. First of all, dress wisely. You will be walking several miles by foot over volcanic soil and hilly terrain. Most locals choose flip-flops or no shoes at all.
2. Second, bring a flashlight or you’re stuck with the moon. Or blindly wander. If you can’t see anyone who might mug you, maybe they can’t see you either.
3. Leave your Gucci bags at home. Most villagers don’t bring them outside. I’m not sure where they usually keep their money to pay the cover, but some use the technique of begging for foreigners’ change when they get to the door. It saves from needing to worry about getting mugged.
4. If you’re a guy, wear obscenely tight jeans. Just an observation.
5. When you get to the club, realize that someone “getting you a drink” just means asking someone else to get you the drink so that you pay the first guy back for said drink before you leave the club.
6. Unless you’re from that particular village, everyone will stare at you.
7. Everyone will also want to dance with you.
8. Men grinding on other men is apparently how to dance in a night box.
9. Men grinding on other men is apparently how you attract one of the four women in the night box so that they will want to dance with you.
10. Dancing with the other sex involves holding hands at an awkward height and shifting your weight back and forth while turning in fast, boring circles.
11. You will never have one dance partner per dance; you will, in fact, be “stolen” about every four beats by a new person.
12. The music will be bad, you will not recognize it, and it will have far too many whistles, horns, and laser sounds for anyone’s taste.
As long as you keep these things in mind, you’ll have a blast. Maybe. Or maybe you won’t. Just remember the perks: no cops, no rules, and whatever terrible things your parents warned you might happen in a night club. Well, those terrible things happen in broad daylight in the market on an average day in these villages – so live it up!

Kayla loves to travel the world alone and experience new things in places that most people avoid like the Plague, all the while dreaming of the day her cats will decide to tag along and go somewhere more interesting than their litter box.

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