Crossing the border from Nigeria to Cameroun
Crossing into Cameroun had always been a cause of anxiety for us and was the main reason for leaving Ghana a month earlier than originally intended; the roads, rains, rivers and forest were known to make the journey very difficult. As described on the Nigeria page we had a truly memorable journey across the border and Mitzi performed magnificently to get us to our first night's stop in Cameroun at the Millennium Star Hotel in Nkambe, on a high plateau - we had to provide our own food and so far, gastronomically speaking, it was the lowest point of our culinary experiences! Up to this point, the roads in Cameroun had been just about as bad as they could be.
Nkambe to Kumbo was a truly wet Welsh day, we travelled 43 km in 4hrs, up and down the hilly plateau, through cold, wet, mist and were very happy to stop for a night at the Fomo 92 where the skies cleared and we were able to enjoy a 'big- fish' late lunch.
Next day on to Bamenda, and then via Dschang (a surpising and inviting 'health-spar oasis' ) to Melong to a 'treat' at the rather luxurious Villa Luciole, located in the hills north of Douala.
In Douala we enjoyed a weekend of John (a colleague of Berwyn's) and Charlottes' hospitality in their flat, including a visit to the SENAT Jazz club, which really was an evening to remember, for the amazing performances by the home grown talented musicians, the delicious food and the amount of alcohol consumed. We also had to attend to Mitzi and replace a broken rear shock-absorber - our only mechanical problem thus far!
On to Kribi where we slummed it on the beach at the superb Swiss owned Ilomba Hotel for two nights, enjoying freshy cooked Crevettes and walks along the white sands to the Chutes de Lobe before heading to Yaounde to acquire our Visas for Gabon, Republic of Congo (Brazzavile) and the Democratic Republic of Congo (Kinshasa). The roads all the way from Bamenda in the north west to Doula, Kribi and Yaounde were excellent quality tarmac - much better than we had been expecting (- all except for the stretch of road from Kribi town to the Hotel Ilomba where a bridge was being worked on)
Next stop was Yaounde where we called in at the VSO office and caught them right in the middle of an 'evacuation' exercise (other VSOs will know the drill!) so although warmly welcomed, we made ourselves scarce in the Volunteer Resource area and made good use of their computers to catch up on emails and research the next leg of our journey to Gabon. We spent 3 days in Yaounde at the very modest but extremely accommodating Indra Hotel (just round the corner from VSO office) and successfully obtained 3 visas! - Gabon, Congo and D.C.R. It was amazing. Dr Jean Baptiste Mikulu, Country Director of VSO Cameroun, himself a Kinshasa man was very helpful and put us in touch with the Democratic Republic of Congo Consulate and gave us some key contacts in Kinshasa.
Yaounde is quite a large sprawling, hilly city, akin to Accra in Ghana for its inumerable taxis clogging up the roadways. Taxi drivers dodge and weave in and out of the tiniest spaces imagineable constantly stopping right in front of you to pick up a fare then shooting out again only to stop once more in another 10 mtrs. Both Nigel and Berwyn are developing the patience of Saints! Well almost!!
Since camping in Bissaula we hadn't been able to sort out the gear properly and as we had so much rain on the way down through Cameroun we decided that the car park of the Indra Hotel was a good place to unpack and dry everything out, for Ber to test out the petrol stove and the ladies to catch up on some washing. It feels good to have everything clean and dry again although a couple of table mats, bought in Burkina and used in Lawra for many months, became the next items to be 'jettisoned en route' having become exceedingly mildewed at the bottom of the roof box. Julia and I checked boxes to see that there was enough emergency food for a possible 3 nights camping on the next leg of the journey into Gabon and Libreville.
The door lock on Mitzi's driver's door had stopped working so Nigel spent a couple of hours with the VSO mechanic getting it replaced (with a Yale front door lock as a temporary measure!) so all is well with her and all her doors now work on central locking.
On our last night in Yaounde we dined out with the VSO Director Jean and his wife Agata at the Restaurant Bois d'Ebene; our way of expressing our thanks for the assistance that had been so generously given to us by VSO Cameroun.
Viva V.S.O. and its world-wide networks.
Now for Gabon