getting to know Maroua

The river through Maroua, or what is left of it anyway

A couple weeks in, we are learning to get around Maroua, see how things work and where to get the best food, household goods and best of all, who will give us a fair price!

Maroua is split by a river that, although the rainy season has just ended, looks more like a barren, dried up wasteland.  All the characteristics of this river remain – the tortuous banks, the red and the green bridges on either end, and locals using the remaining small pockets of water for washing.

The interesting things about water.  Sunday before last, and again last Sunday, the power was off from 7am until about 5-ish.  This was a planned power interruption for the entire city – meaning that without power, water was shut off too.  Neither of those two “outages” slowed anything down.  It was business as usual.  Try that in North America!

Cars are rare.  Motos fill the streets.  Add on the bicycles, wandering fruit merchants with their wooden carts, hordes of

Traffic at the roundabout

pedestrians, sometimes a few runaway goats or chickens and you have a busy, hopping town.  It costs 100 CFAs to get pretty much anywhere in town during the day by mototaxi, although admittedly, it’s not that far to get on foot if one doesn’t mind the intense sun beating down on you.

By now we have established a nice route to the office (Caroline’s full-time place, and Greg’s 1/3 time place).  Although we can pick different streets to reach the same point, we’ve tended to prefer the route that takes us past one of the mosques where a group of old men sit in shade most of the day.  We’ve greeted them with “Bonjour!” and now with “Jam na! Jam bandu na?” and they seemed to be tickled pink with our efforts.  We’ll keep practicing.

The market is now holding a tad fewer mysteries but is still a marvel.  We have a favourite tomato seller – an older gentleman who has a smile bigger than anything you could imagine.  The gentleman who runs

One of the main arteries in town near the market

the blue boulangerie across from the mattress sellers is also quite friendly.  A few of the “alimentation” (grocery stores) operators are increasingly recognizing us – and having a wonderful time watching us try to respond in Fulfulde.  One even tried to get us to guess how much to pay for our groceries in Fulfulde – but the “money math” is just too complicated for now.

Soon we will be strangers no more… still very strange, but not quite strangers.

~ by Caroline Spira on November 24, 2009.

3 Responses to “getting to know Maroua”


  2. You two certainly are making a pretty compelling case for a visit! Looking forward to the next post.

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