Well hello folks and welcome to the next episode of my exciting adventures in Cameroon today you see me heading to the ring Rd and the nearby city of Bamenda. So pull up your britches put on your finest tie and hat for absolutely no reason whatsoever and let’s do this thing as we explore destination Cameroon’s ring a Rd
Day Eleven – 2nd of July 2011
As we move into July and I bemoan the fact that I only have one or two colours working in either of my 24 coloured pens. I’ll try to recount the events of yesterday that somehow finally brought us to Bamenda. Yes, it was one of those very long, uncomfortable African travel days and sort of began with breakfast but before that another night of intrigue we watched for some unknown reason ‘Mel B – It’s a Scary Life’, packed and went to bed.
Anyhow, saw the guys from America off to Kribi today and had organised a taxi. I hoped the taxi might drop us off where we needed to go – Mile 4 for onward transport, but the driver was adamant ‘no’! Then I wanted to get a taxi ordered for us but the girl at reception had no credit. It meant walking 500 metres on the unsealed muddy road to the main road. Thankfully the rain was now very light. We flagged a shared taxi and arrived at mile for a sort of ramshackle park where most transport leaves from.
We were told by the taxi that we needed to go to Bikoko – some small place not on the map to get a mini bus to Bafoussam. From there to Bamenda. Well, we got a ticket! Very exciting stuff! Bought it from the little window even – very official! Then we waited a little while for the bus to fill up. At the bus station there was animation aplenty. Arguments, people selling all sorts of things from useless knickknacks to peanuts and loaves of white bread.
Bags on the top, no leg room to speak of. Four across – one woman with some sort of cooler but we were off soon enough. The bus was going to Douala, many told us it would be best to go into Douala and get transport to Bafoussam from there. Needless to say after our previous experiences with Douala traffic, this did not appeal to me.
Bikoko turns out to be an intersection really, nothing more but there was a mini bus already to go to Bafoussam there so I called Nila out of the first mini bus, we transferred to the next and with an amazing 5 to 10 minutes we were off to Bafoussam! That was awesome and we have much much more legroom so we were initially pretty happy about the situation. The countryside was absolutely beautiful!
However it was one long mini bus ride! We made an incredible number of stops on the journey to drop off people and pick every man and his dog up. It proved mucho frustrating – I had it in my head it was around 3 hours to Bafoussam, maybe. That would turn out to be quite wrong indeed every time the bus slightly slowed down people appeared from the woodwork to sell kola nuts more bread than you can possibly poke a stick at and we are both quite over the bread at the moment and of course an abundance of peanuts! Also something on a stick Nila thinks it’s durian fruit.
I thought we might be getting close so I asked the guy next to me how long he said two hours! When I saw how far to go on the map I thought that might be even a bit quick. We went through a place called Bafing seemed around 200 kilometres still to go!
But after stopping well stopped we arrived in Banjun and amazingly for a short few kms we had a two-lane each way split highway we must have been going 70 or 80 kilometres an hour! Right on 2 hours after the guy said, we arrived in Bafoussam! However, it was another 15-20 minutes until we reached the stop. It was lightly raining and really quite cold I grabbed my jumper and we hopped on a Moto to the part of town with a few vehicles (for onward travel) and soon had a minivan Bamenda. It was around 6:20 PM now when I had taken off on the Moto a bottle of water had fallen out of my bag and a rolled along way down the road I let it be.
Our bus driver had a beer in his hand – not a good sign but we filled up soon and we’re on our way. Then we were pulled over by the police, not the first time today, but this was a 20 minute sojourn. The officer checked ID and two guys didn’t have it. It’s law to carry it clearly in Cameroon so they were with him and the minivan driver also disappeared they were nowhere in sight. People started to theorise the driver had done a runner I got out and looked down the road but as I said nothing to see suddenly everyone rushed back into the bus the driver got in the door slams shut and we were off! It had been around 20 minutes maybe 25.
We were one person less – one guy without ID. What happened was he coming but the driver was impatient or was he in big trouble, we will never know, but the driver was impatient and also rather insane. He raced off down Hill at around 100 km/h. The whole thing rattled and shook like crazy I did not feel safe I even proffered a little prayer!
Uphill was a different story, as we went through the dark of night. Uphill was a massive struggle for the van and for every van here. Lots of carbon monoxide from other vehicles too, one in particular from a bus company Vatican Express – I have to travel them at some point!
Finally at 8:30 PM we arrived in Bamenda and a taxi took us to our resting place – the Mondial Hotel. Receptionist devoid of personality or care although he did swap the TV for one with the volume up button (ours didn’t have one!).
Delicious chicken and chips for dinner. The room OK, a bit cheaper which is nice. We needed to separate the two single beds. Three condoms as a gift from management! That was the day.
And thus is most of my entry from long and tiring day of full on road travel! Thanks for reading today – take care and May the Journey Never End!