Cameroon Memories From the Diary – Limbe!

Hi all! Today the story from my diary, my words at the time, when I was in Cameroon ten years ago now. The first post saw me arrive in Douala and meet up with my friend Nila who was travelling with me, last week detailed our time in Kribi. This week we move on from Kribi, through Douala north to Limbe!

Day Seven – 28/6/11

And tomorrow we are off to Limbe with a backbreaking schedule in front of us! I have decided to go with Nila to the Ring Road, heaven help me! So we will be one day here, two days here and there and out again it’s been so lovely and relaxed here. Sigh. I’m too tired for the crazy backpacer life but here we are five days in. Limbe, then all hell breaks loose until well Oxford really. [I was heading back for a few weeks in the UK after Cameroon]

I will start the day recollecting with something unexpected to write yesterday while relaxing and reading Nila saying there was some sort of kerfuffel outside our hotel room and slightly to the left. Four people – three guys and one girl who may have been cleaning here in some form of heated and slightly physical argument.

Day Eight – 29/6/11

Who would have thought? Here I am chilling in Cameroon I am in humid, very humid Limbe where English is the main language and we have an African soap ‘Looking for love 2’ playing on the television. It was one of those seriously long travel days! Yes one of those the day started naturally enough in Kribi. A couple of girls just got kidnapped on ‘Looking for Love 2’, just keeping you up to date! Getting up at 9:20 AM felt like getting up so much earlier. No energy, sleepy, unmotivated still we were up showered and we changed some euros with the hotel manager.

Anyways, we ended up catching a taxi with a couple who stayed one night next door. When we got to the bus station there was a bus leaving at 12:45 PM, we were a good two hours early for that, hey. We must have just missed the previous bus I guess. So what was there to do? The only thing to do was to get a number in order to board the bus – six and seven, and then we went to Le Marmite naturalment! So I had a Spag Bol whilst Nila stayed true to form and had an omelette sandwich. The creepy owner popped in, the power went off and Nila was scared by a spider in the toilet!

Waiting for a bus in Kribi

Then we returned to Central Voyages and waited for the bus there. The bus arrived at around 12:40 and everyone had to get off we were not leaving at 12:45 that’s for sure! Bags on board – lots of bags, food coolers of fish and the like, then I tried to look for a loo everyone pointed in a different direction I got told off for walking on a pile of, well, garbage I guess. Onto the bus we had a good position – we could keep the window open, only four seats across. The lady next to me had a grandchild with her and in a bag at her feet was a chicken inside. It would pop its head out through a hole occasionally. It was pretty cute but when I went to video it it went inside and wouldn’t come back out.

Then there were the loud TV shows on the television very poor sound quality and with this bright light washing so much of the picture out. It was a stand-up comedian, perhaps a local and Cameroonian comedian Major Asse – he probably pronounced ‘Ar-sey’ but that’s not how will remember him. His ‘gay rooster’ impression seemed to be his whole act, then he did an old blind lady. He didn’t seem funny but others on the bus were sure laughing at him!

Selling to bus passengers

Getting into Douala the traffic was abysmal. Slowly we inched towards the Central Voyages Depot. Then a taxi across to the gare routiere. The worst was getting the bags out of the bus. They had been next to a leaking cooler of fish – yes fish water had soaked the bottom of our backpacks! The vile smell was impregnated in them now! The gare routiere was just a bunch of minibuses and taxis alongside the road. When the taxi price was revealed as the same price as the crowded minibus, we took it. Mini-mart just there, so I grabbed 2 ham rolls and a doughnut for my dinner, we were off!

A standstill getting out of Douala, took 45 minutes longer than the rest of the journey. Well, nearly! Finally we were on the open road. speeding along towards Limbe! The signs were in English and I could even make out the mountains in the background. The girl next to me played some chilled African tunes on her phone and then I ate the roll. The only bad thing about the journey was the smell of fish coming from the boot – yes this is the sort of issue I would rather not have to deal with!

Our taxi driver was nice enough to take us on the dirt road through the botanical gardens to the ‘Park Miramar Hotel’. 20,000 CFA including breakfast not as expensive as Kribi, nice little bar. We’re beachside too, hopefully won’t get bitten alive here as I did in Kribi – all over the fingers! The only part without deet no doubt. The room is not as nice as the one in Kribi, the ceiling has lots of bumps. It’s pretty dirty but I have stayed in much worse and so has Nila, I think. Sigh.

So I pulled out 2 ties from the bottom of the bag and the silk sleeping sheet and mosquito net do too. We are enjoying a D’jino –  a tropical fruit drink and watching an English language African TV show – ‘Wicked Affairs’ film now that the previous episode of ‘Looking for Love 2’ is finished. A wife is getting even on her cheating husband. So we watched ‘Wicked Affair’s to its sudden conclusion. I think they were going to get back together so go figure!

Day Nine – 30th of June 2011

Half a year gone 120 days since I left Australia! ‘Looking for Love’ (two) is back on the television except now it’s entitled ‘Take me to Love’. Nila is seriously into it! I wonder if the DVD is available anywhere? This chair in the hotel room is mega dodgy but hi there is a desk and that is something. We also found a pretty good bakery.

Accommodation at Limbe

After a simple breakfast of bread jam and tea we did some washing. The fish smell seems to be all but gone which is good. I washed my sleeping sheet, Nila scrubbed her bag but when one enters the room you don’t get that ******* fish smell you did when we arrived yesterday. We walked to the Botanical Gardens – not far at all only a few hundred metres up the dirty road that leads to the hotel.

We paid to go in at a circular office where a lady worked all day on the off chance there were people coming. I think we were the only ones there. There were postcards too – I bought 2 including this rather faded one on this page. The Botanic Gardens were full of insects, the mosquitoes went for Nila in a big way she put on her jacket to keep them away. Lots of interesting trees and fruit. It pelted rain overnight so there are puddles of water everywhere. There’s a couple of flowers too and this jungle village amphitheatre as well. I sang – it certainly has a good echo and sound.

After that we headed up the road and found an Internet place from there was a 10 minute walk to the Limbe Wildlife Centre. On the way I picked up two postcards, outrageously overpriced at CamPost. So anyways, just over the river was the Wildlife Centre. This place was pretty damn cool! It was for primates basically. We spent time getting photos. It was great because we were a few metres away from the enclosures of the gorillas, chimpanzees, baboons, mandrills and drills.

One drill was out of the cage, which worried us a little and freaked Nila out a bit, but apparently he’s found a way out and gets out and in at will so not a lot to worry about. The drills have amazing long teeth like him a vampire! (The Sanctuary was) easily the main highlight of the day. Rain started to fall lightly and we looked for a moto. One pulled up with a sort of umbrella thing which was well cool. He took us to a different part of Limbe – there doesn’t seem to be much of it and the Taho tourism office was closed the guy in the building said the guy from this office was very lazy!

Gorilla at shelter in Limbe

We were there to try and organise a day trip to Mount Cameroon. The guy said the place to go was –  – the Botanical Gardens! They could hook us up with a guide. At the office a phone call was made and a guide turned up. We had a chat with him he wanted 10,000 CFA as a guide and said it was 15,000 each development fee. There were additional fees, this pretty much priced it out of our range. I’m sure he was swindling us but what can you do? Back to the hotel we met a German girl who gave us the number of her guide.

Ahh – there goes the power! We had a blackout earlier today. Back at the hotel management put us in touch with a guide Ferdinand. We met two Americans army or ex-army who were thinking to go to Mount Cameroon today. It was around 5:00 PM at this time the price was 30,000 for two; 40,000 for four so they said they are in and we have our first early morning rise tomorrow. 7:45 should do it. Anyway, we grabbed some stuff from the bakery just over the bridge past the botanical gardens for dinner and returned to watch Disney Channel.

Day Ten 1st of July 2011

So the air conditioning/electricity were on and off quite a bit through the night. Got hot and put it back on when it was too hot I don’t know if I was hot or cold both I guess I thinks. As I showered I could feel I was a step or two worse health-wise than yesterday – coughing quite a bit, albeit dry coughs. Now I am also feeling achy and a little worse. A 6-hour hike to was not going to happen. Still I decided to make the journey with the guys too Buen as I had set the darn thing up.

Sean and Royce were already up and apparently unaware that breakfast was included in the price at reception. They suddenly were telling us 12,000CFA for the taxi – the money just keeps disappearing in Cameroon I tells ya! So we walked down to the taxi area and some time passed and we eventually felt accepting 6000 CFA was the best we were going to do.

Oil Rig off Limbe

The drive seemed a bit longer than I expected – was told 25 minutes but it was more like 40 minutes. There was a big police presence on the roads today, we were pulled over by police concerned that we the use of seatbelts in the front. Royce pretended to plug his in, it was broken and not possible to click in. After a while we were allowed to move on once in Buen we had to give Ferdinand a call to locate the place we were to meeting. We were dropped there – a little office which was not the Ecotourism office but it did have postcards! I saw the guys off but unfortunately visibility was poor so I couldn’t get a photo of Mount Cameroon.

I took a share taxi through the streets of Buen, it was a pretty cool. interesting place. One road was closed for some sort of army exercise and there were troops lined up along the road. We did take in this pretty hilly town, ‘Mile 17’ is a place where lots of transport leaves from soon I was in the front of a minivan that filled up in 20 minutes and was off to Mile 7, just outside Limbe. I guess it’s 7 miles from Limbe and Mile 17 is 17 miles from Limbe.  

Then shared a taxi to Half Mile and a moto to the centre home of the supermarket, 2 restaurants, a bank and of course the Internet café. I wasn’t feeling great and wanted to sleep but the electricity which was off this morning was still off still it wasn’t stifling hot so I lay down and got a little sleep. Suddenly just before 5:00 PM there was a knock on the door and Nila was back an hour earlier than I expected.

Looking out over the bay in Limbe

Soon after, the power is back obviously an issue pertaining mostly to the hotel. Winner from the Victoria bakery again – two hamburgers not really so nice but cheap I guess we have mostly watched see one channel tonight Nila is packing now. The neighbours have been quite loud but touchwood they seem to have gone into town.

So my time in Limbe was perhaps disappointing in the end as I didn’t get to hike Mount Cameroon. I had an underlying cold for much of my time in Cameroon that never got seriously bad but also never went away. I’m so grateful that I got to see and do as much as I did whilst I was there considering I was somewhat under the weather. Next Wednesday I’m just bringing you one entry, which covers the long trip from Limbe to Bamenda. Thanks for reading today! Take care, and May the Journey Never End!

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