Trip to the NW of Cameroon

I wrote this in August… for some reason I never posted it. Sorry…

Last Friday (Aug. something that is…) our friends from the States arrived here in Yaounde. Later that night Patrick came home from a week work trip in S. Africa. The next morning, very early, we started out on our 5 day road trip around the NW region of Cameroon.

Our drive started out pretty uneventful.  The drive from Yaounde to Douala is the most dangerous road in the country. Logging trucks and drivers with no patience fill the narrow roads.  We all coped well though. Aydan listened to music, colored, played with her stickers and watched Blue’s Clues on the iPad (best purchase ever).

After fighting through the Douala market we found ourselves on the other side of the city crossing the bridge into the SW provence. As soon as we crossed over we were welcomed by a naked man trying to cross the bridge. There was a police man there telling him he could not go and to go home and get some clothes on. Naked Man did not seem to care he was wearing no clothes. Maybe he was told he was wearing a very fine cloth that only very fine people could see…

We continued on our way to Limbe. Once in the city limits it looked as if we were heading into a war zone. There were Cameroonian solders on each side of the road marching in  a line towards the city with their machine guns.  I’m sure they were just training but it was a bit erie.  I was ducking and covering in case of a misfire. Thankfully we made it past the longest line of solders I’d ever seen.

We had lunch at the  Limbe Wildlife Centre. They have a GREAT cafe there with amazing food for cheap. You can eat while watching the gorrillas. It is a very fun experience.

We stayed at Tsaben Beach Hotel in Limbe.  It was perfect. It’s situated just across the road and above the beach.  The rooms are little bungalows and are nice and very clean.  Once there I put Aydan down for a nap and the others went to play in the waves. When Aydan woke up we packed up our beach stuff and headed down to meet up with the rest of our crew. Aydan hated the beach.  Again.

Here we are in front of our little hut

That night we went to the fish market on the beach.  We had fresh fish, crab, and shrimp, and beers for all. The total price was about $6 per person.  It was perfect.

The next morning we had breakfast at the hotel and headed north to Melong. The drive from Limbe to Melong as about 4 hours. Again, Adyan was a champ.

The directions we had for our hotel, Villa Luciole were as follows (their website says they have a pool and spa among other things that they did not have): “Drive to Melong, follow the signs to Villa Luciole”. That’s it. But it actually worked.

Here is the road that we took to the Villa Luciole

As we pulled up I was so happy to see they had running room for Aydan. The next thing I noticed was a little monkey running around. Cool. I took our stuff into our little grass hut where we would be sleeping and came out to find Kelly grabbing Aydan out from a little girl’s arms that was being attacked by the monkey! Kelly ran to me and the hut yelling, “Get inside!” When we were safely inside we went to the window and watched one of the little boys running away from the monkey, falling and punching the monkey as he jumped at the boys face. The kids were up at the hotel getting water to take back to their homes and the monkey guarded the water pump like it was his child. The kids finally won their water and walked back to their homes with huge tubs of water on their heads and blood leaking down their legs. Let’s just agree to never complain about our water back home. Unless of course, to get it you have to fight off a ravenous monkey.

I laid Aydan down for her nap, the guys went for a hike to some waterfalls and Kelly and I bravely ordered a picnic lunch by our hut so we could hear for Aydan.  We ordered chicken but what we first recived was very different. The lady brought us our food. It was a plate of four eggs on top of four circles of spam. Oh and the eggs were cooked like I’d never seen eggs cooked before. Let’s just leave it at that. Not knowing what to do and feeling too badly to just leave it we decided to eat what was left of Aydan’s Goldfish and then put our food like substance (if I can steal from M. Pollan) into the ziplock bag the fish were in. Just as we decided this the lady brought out more food! Some delicious real chicken and some amazing potato and chickpea dish. Redemption never tasted so good.

BUT just as we thought Africa had redemed itself it started to pour on us and our picnic. Now what? We couldn’t go inside bc we’d wake Aydan and I didn’t want to do that because she had been such a trooper on the drive. She deserved a good nap. After being rained on for long enough to scarf down our food it became clear we had to go inside.  In we went and sat in the dark with our head lamps and read for the next two hours while Aydan slept. Good girl.

The boys returned just after Aydan woke up and we decided to head over to the hotel next to ours.  It was an old dairy that the family gave to the village to make into a resort to make some money. We didn’t see much of the ground because it was raining but it looked huge and pretty cool. We arrived and asked when dinner was ready and if they had a menu. The man said they could have dinner ready in an hour. We were ready to wait for 2 hours before being served but they brought out bread, drinks and peanuts right away. Then our food came out very soon after. It was an amazing meal.

The next morning we woke up, ate breakfast, I got attacked and bit by the monkey (don’t really want to go into the crazy details of that story here, I’m fine- came away with a deep scratch that will turn to a scar) and then we got in the car to go to the crater lakes. Our guide told us we’d have no problems driving the 2 hours up this dirt road to where we’d begin our 2 hour hike. Keep in mind, we drive a RAV4 and it’s the end of the rainy season here so the roads are terrible. I’ll make this story as short as possible. As we make our way up the mountain the road becomes worse and worse until we hit the point where our tires are just two feet from the edge of the guardrailless cliff. I freaked out, grabbed Aydan, still in her car seat, and got out of the car, refusing to go any further. After the guys investigated and saw, especially if it rained while we were hiking, we’d never be able to safely make it back down the mountain we turned around. We were all muddy and the car was the dirtiest I’d ever seen it but we made it bad down the swampy road to “safety”.  We then decided to visit the big waterfalls where a Tarzan movie was filmed. The park is named Ekom Nkam and it’s actually nicely mantained. It has a good man-made path to two different view points.  Entrance into the park costs 2,000 CFA, roughly $4.  We didn’t spend much time there because we still wanted to visit a crater and have lunch and then drive the 3 hours to the pottery village.

The guys were scouting out the terrain before we turned around.

This was the truck full of people coming down from their village. It was packed with people, kids and babies. Not to include all of their personal belongings.

After lunch we headed out to the Bamenda region.  It took us about 3 hours to get to Bamenda. It was 6:15PM when we made it down the huge hill into the city. We were told if we made it there before 6:30 then we should go ahead and head to the pottery village so on we went. The only directions we had were:  “Head into the city. Turn right at the intersection. Continue on until you see a sign for the potter village.” Sweet.  I was pretty sure that a large city would have more than one intersection. The road was narrow and it was raining and very foggy. So we slowly made our way to what we could only assume was the PresPot Guest House. We got out of the car and walked around in the pitch dark until some man found us. We asked him if he knew where the house was and he said to follow him. I was a bit sketched out at this point but the guys convinced me they could take him if they had to.  Long story short, we met the night guard, Lucas, who was about 100 years old and we waited in our car for the caretaker of the house to come and let us inside.

The house was amazing. Beautiful.  There wasn’t any electricity but they had great little gas lamps set up everywhere. We spent the next three days hanging out at the pottery house, playing Yahtzee, hiking around the village and just hanging out. We loved the lady who is the caretaker there. Here name is Emma. She has a two young girls and a baby who we got to play with a lot. Over all this was the most relaxing and fun time of the trip.

Aydan was so happy to finally have a place to run around free of crazy monkeys.

This man gave us a tour of the pottery workshop.

Aydan with her new friends

We left the village early and made our way back to Yaounde. It took us 6 hours and the roads were very nice. We had a great trip and are so happy that Jon and Kelly were with us to share in these experiences.

If you are happening upon this blog bc you are planning a trip to the area, please feel free to comment with any questions and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.

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3 responses to “Trip to the NW of Cameroon

  1. Hi,

    I have really enjoyed your blog. I stumbled across it this evening in an attempt find a French instructor. I just moved to Yaounde this past Saturday for work (from Houston). My compound is a few blocks away from the US Embassy.

    If you happen to know of a French tutor in the area, let me know. I’m hoping to find someone who can work with me for about 2 years. I’m not quite sure where to look.

    Thank you and have a wonderful weekend,
    Hayley

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