Published: October 11th 2007June 6th 2007
Bubble wrap shoes
Coupled with my bandaged leg, I'm sure I look great!
We arrived in Cameroon on the worst roads I've ever experienced. Crossing the border from Nigeria on a Thursday morning, it was Saturday before we arrived in the city of Douala - a grand total of 400km in 2 and a half days! The dirt roads here are rendered impassable at times in the rainy season and one local described them to us as bad "beyond human comprehension" - he hit the nail on the head there!
Miraculously, we only got bogged in the gluey mud once, when knee deep in slime, the truck had to be dug out and crumbled termite mounds used for traction (now there’s an interesting, and useless, tip for you!).
Our base in Cameroon was the city of Douala, the largest city in Cameroon (though not the capital, which is Yaoundé). Douala is not a nice place at all, and if you're ever thinking of visiting Cameroon, avoid it at all costs!
Over the last 2 weeks we've experienced 2 muggings, 2 attempted mugging and 1 truck break-in. It’s certainly the most dangerous city I've ever visited, and that includes Rio! Its only redeeming feature is the fabulous Boulangerie Zepol
, officially my favourite
Bubble wrap shoes
Protection from clumsiness for my toes. Thanks Faye!
It's not all bad in Cameroon though! Outside of Douala, the people are extremely friendly and seem to be embarrassed about Douala. They know its dangers (not just for tourists), and don't like to talk about it much - although one lady explained to us that the thieves use black magic to "disappear your money"! Apparently pinning your money to your clothes works though, as "black magic can’t penetrate metal".
They talk a lot here, and laugh a lot too. One giggly lady we met in a hostel thought it hilarious that we were European - "I could never go there, they eat funny! I couldn't get used to it! heeheehee". She was so funny! Oh and the food is delicious! In fact, the name Cameroon stems from the Wouri River, which the Portugese named “Rio dos Camarõs” (River of Prawns) when they first arrived. And as should be expected, the seafood here is delicious! We spent several days in the coastal town of Kribi, eating the freshest fish and shrimp, cooked over coals in front of you, and eaten with your fingers. A whole, delicious fresh fish for under a euro - bargain!
Delicious fresh fish, grilled on the street for you in Kribi, Cameroon
so now onto Mount Cameroon! Hmm... as you can probably guess from the title of this blog, my attempts weren't wholly successful! Mt Cameroon stands at 4095m, and is still an active volcano, so isn't exactly an easy climb for an unfit novice! Unfortunately, I have to admit that I only made it to just under 3000m before I had to give in. Still though, that’s almost 3 times the height of Carrantuohill, Ireland’s highest mountain, which makes me feel a bit better! The altitude-induced dizziness coupled with my total lack of fitness made it impossible to continue so I sheltered in our hut from the cold while Steve completed the trek to the summit (Well done Steve!). It was still a thoroughly enjoyable experience, and a great 3 days and now I've a new incentive to get fit! Our guide, Samuel, was very informative (and patient at our slow progress!), pointing out the the plants used for traditional medicine, including a cure for all snake bites (even the black mamba that lives here), typhoid and gastric problems. The rainforests on the mountain are beautiful - as is the whole country in fact. Mountains and forests, waterfalls and beaches (even
Waterfall on the beach in Kribi
waterfalls on beaches), it’s extremely picturesque
Anyway, that's a short update for you! We've said goodbye to 7 of our group in Cameroon, who left us to travel to Cairo. The remaining bunch of us are off to Ethiopia, but we'll all be meeting up again at the end of July in Kenya for the remainder of the trip. Talk to you from Ethiopia!
There are more photos below