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Published: July 18th 2012
Today we crossed into Cameroon after stopping in Ikom. We picked up pasta and ingredients for a tomato sauce and a noodle omelette for lunch (yay!) before I bought some ridiculous pants and an old t-shirt to wear if we got stuck so I wouldn't destroy my clothes. The elasticated high-waist pants will probably never see the light of day, more suited to... Probably rags!
The road was slow going but not too bad to begin with. The usual small potholes, crevices and uneven ground with occasional muddy areas was nothing we hadn't seen before and we were beginning to think we may be lucky with the weather and conditions. We met traffic moving in both directions but it was only when a truck bumbled towards us and refused to move off the road that we moved over to accommodate them and became stuck in the soft sandy sides. We were on such an angle that we actually thought we might tip and we all rushed to the left side, hanging onto the seats. When Suse yelled for shovels we grabbed them and slowly edged our way down the truck and stairs, Toby missing one and getting
down faster than he expected!
Digging was done with vigour and the rest grabbed stones to put under the tyres to give them some sort of traction. Suse tried to reverse us out but it was no use so a couple of us ran off to try and find a truck on the nearby logging areas. I didn't make it far, stepping onto what looked like solid ground and turning out to be mud. Sinking ankle deep, we all laughed and they ran off while I got myself out. So much for helping.
Eventually not one but three trucks turned up and proceeded to argue amongst themselves about who was going to help us (because there'd be payment involved). Suse settled the matter, using the first truck who had large concrete cylinders in the back that added to the weight and we all watched happily as we were dragged out backwards onto solid ground.
Continuing on until late afternoon, the quest was on to find somewhere to camp. Thankfully a quarry appeared and as we pulled in, the rain began. We were given permission to stay and put the tarp up so we could cook underneath it, not bothering with
tents just yet. The rain was heavy enough that people went and showered in it, washing their hair and all!
The lightning was even more spectacular than anything we'd seen in Nigeria, lighting up the sky for several seconds at a time with fork lightning connecting somewhere close by. Tents were put up away from the channels that the water had created and it was soon quiet.
I slept poorly and had trouble getting up and out today. We'd attempted to light the charcoal but for whatever reason it wouldn't work and by the time we got the gas out, it had started raining heavily, everyone huddled under the tarp while we cooked eggs. Then we got stuck within metres of leaving. Lovely friendly workers from the quarry helped dig us out, ferrying buckets of gravel over to throw under the tyres but we slid sideways, missing the gravel entirely. As trucks arrived for work, one came to our assistance and in return for water and a beer, we were towed out and up onto the road.
Clearing the rest of the dreaded road with relative ease, we were climbing higher when the truck stopped
This is the truck that knocked us off the road
again in the drizzle and we used our last fuel filter, now needing to pick up more spares in the next town.
At a turn in the road we were met with a waterfall gushing across our path. The Chinese are building new roads which cut into scenic forests but obviously help us have a smoother journey.
We were up at altitude and the cooler temperatures were definitely welcomed. Stopping in a small village, we received permission to set up camp for the night and drew a decent sized crowd who brought wood and started a fire for us. We'd heard bad reports from previous overland trips about Cameroon but so far everyone's been smiling and waving and I think it's going to continue.
It was the coolest night since Morocco and I think most people slept well. I slept in my sleeping bag for the first time since... I dunno when! It was nice to be all snuggly and warm by choice and not because it's 22C at night!
For the past week or so we've been packed and ready to go about 30 minutes earlier than planned (okay, except when my group was
Accidentally captured Toby falling off the truck!
on breakfast) and today was no exception. We wound our way through the mountainous roads past banana plantations, corn fields and cabbages growing on the side of the road, the clouds still low in the morning sky. Houses with pointed roofs that reminded me of a child's drawing seemed unique to one village which I failed to appreciate in time to snap a photo, looking out of place amongst the more common mud-walled dwellings.
On the truck people rugged up with fleeces, rain jackets and blankets and only one tarp was rolled up but soon even that one was unhooked and secured as the rain became more than a drizzle.
We're in the clouds heading around and down the mountains which makes me nauseous so I spent the rest of the day trying to sleep until we arrived in Limbé. Our campsite is in hotel grounds overlooking the Gulf of Guinea, past the Botanical Gardens and a wonderful place to spend a couple nights. Five were planning to climb Mt. Cameroon and the rest of us would hang out while they were gone the two days. Denise and I decided to upgrade and revelled in the fact that we had
One, two, three, PUSH
to no avail but it was worth a try
air conditioning, a bathroom AND a television! Though I'm not a huge fan of tv, it was a novelty to have one in our room.
After dinner Maria and I began a game of chess with the giant pieces near the pool. When she lost interest, Talbot took over and I thought I'd lose, knowing he knows how to actually play whereas I only know how the pieces move. Surprisingly, I beat him which frustrated him no end but had me heading to bed with a smile on my face!
Spying steak on the chalkboard menu on the wall yesterday, we were all looking forward to it for lunch. The dismay was clearly etched on our faces when the staff told us it would be available for dinner but not lunch! I suggested to Suse that if it was possible to pay them to cook it, I would go to the market and purchase the meat myself and with permission given from the kitchen, Talbot and I set out on a mission to find the market and the meat.
Buying 3.5kg of meat and some onions before heading for the bakery and getting fresh rolls,
we made our way back and settled in to watch the cricket and tennis while lunch was prepared. What a feast. We'd bought so much meat and were served so many chips that the six of us ate ourselves stupid, foregoing the rolls as we had no room. We still weren't hungry when dinner rolled around and I excused myself from it, unable to face the idea of more food until breakfast the following day.
Early this morning the five left for Mt. Cameroon. Toni saw them off and made us laugh with at the thought of them plus two guides and all their equipment squashed into a small Fiat for the hour's drive! As for the rest of us, we sat around again watching tennis and athletics. Yup, totally lazy. I did go for a walk with a couple others but even then we were slow so it didn't really feel like exercise!
I was on cook group this evening so thankfully I couldn't continue to be lazy, though I did try! After the lengthy rain shower I left for the market on my own as Talbot was on
If you saw this truck in action, you'd also be worried that it was going to tip!
his way up Mt. Cameroon and Rhys was off making friends. I decided to walk the fifteen minute journey in the drizzle rather than take a moto-taxi (though these ones were quite cool with extended umbrellas over the top!) and was in for a shock when I rounded the final corner.
What had been a large bustling market yesterday was now absolutely empty. I could count on my fingers how many people I saw. I was gutted. Stopping for a second, I figured out what I needed if I only got the bare minimum and approached the first man I saw, staying dry under an empty stand. With bad French and sign language, I asked if the market was finished because of the rain, to which I receive a 'oui'. When I explained that I had to buy food for fifteen people, he jumped up, asked what I needed and took me with him. He banged loudly on the door of a more permanent stand and asked them if they had anything. With a shake of the head, we moved onto the next one. This continued until I had potatoes, carrots, green peppers, green beans, onions and garlic. He was
a lifesaver and at first refused the tip I gave him until I insisted.
After picking up eggs (and getting completely ripped off but not realising until later) and another phone number (so that I could call him when I was ready to get married), I was heading back along the main road when a herd of African cows came around the bend. I crossed the road out of their way and stood watching as they slowly made their way past. Taking out my camera, one of the two herders seemed angry with me, asking why I was taking photos. When I said I liked cows, he relaxed a little and had a laugh with the other as I walked back via the bakery.
Once dinner was prepared and served we sat down to watch the Spanish whip the Italians in the European Cup final. Fantastic. It couldn't have been a better score (unless it was 5-0) and a great way to end our stay in Limbé.
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