Saturday, June 11, 2011

Cool, Green Cameroon

Yaounde, Cameroon

After spending10 days in Chad I really appreciated the cool green of Cameroon.  It was great to surf and hang out on the beach in Limbe and in Douala on the coast where the jungle stretched to the edge of the sea.  The frequent rains and heavy clouds kept the temperatures down on the drive back to Yaounde and we arrived back in town a couple tense hours after dark.  Tense hours because driving on the country roads in Cameroon after dark is suicidal.  Vehicles just stop in the road and leave no lights or warning markers.  Motorcyclists have a crazy habit of flashing their light and then turning it off right as they approach you.  Then there are the official and unofficial road blocks- you are lucky if you get an official one because bandits set up surprise check points and will take everything, even the car (we were warned these robberies are becoming more and more frequent).

The next morning we set out to explore Yaounde since we had only seen it in the dark before with our late arrivals and early departures.  At night the city was impressive with all the lit buildings and working street lights.  In the daytime the government buildings, hotels, and other large edifices stood out even more and seemed modern for Africa.  After lunch we toured the local beer factory and discovered to the chagrin of my companions that the Yaounde factory only did blonde beers and the Guiness was done in a neighboring town.  They still enjoyed a couple at the end of the tour while I choked down a couple weird flavored Schweppes.
Logging trucks on the way to the port

I noticed as we went out to dinner that night that there aren't a lot of expats in Yaounde and my small group of friends attracted a lot of attention.  Nobody hassled us, but we stood out more than back in Dakar where there are westerners everywhere.  There were also no new BMWs anywhere to be seen.  I saw a couple new Mercedes E-class driven by what appeared to be government types, but besides that the perverse displays of wealth by the elites weren't evident like in many other cities (like in Dakar were you seen five or more new BMW X6s every day).  The people were nice and I enjoyed walking around Yaounde.

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