Tuesday, Sept. 9
Until now, every place I’ve visited has been new, every bus station a challenge, every face unfamiliar.
But tonight I travel to Cameroon, where I spent four months studying French and culture during college, six years ago. (Click here for facts about Cameroon and here for a map showing where it’s located in Africa.)
I’m interested to see how the country has changed, whether cell phones and wheelchairs have made it to Cameroon like the other countries I’ve explored. I wonder whether the family I stayed with in the mountains now has electricity.
Perhaps, even if Cameroon hasn’t changed, I’ll perceive it differently after experiencing other parts of Africa.
I have always thought of Cameroon as a West African country, but the people here in Ghana and neighboring Francophone countries tell me it’s actually in central Africa. But it’s in my West Africa guidebook, I tried telling them. Cameroon uses the Central African franc, not the West African franc, they’d shoot back at me. They win.
I’m flying there, with a layover in Ivory Coast, solely to avoid traveling overland by myself through Nigeria, which is known to be unsafe. Until recently, I kicked myself for buying that flight, thinking I could handle the overland trip after surviving Senegal, Mali, Burkina and Ghana (Click here to see a map of my route so far). But then, while traveling in Ghana, I met two American Peace Corps volunteers stationed in Cameroon who told horror stories of bribing their way across the Nigerian border. (To be fair, it would have been easier had they bought visas.)
“You know how corrupt Cameroon is, right?” one of them asked me. “Nigeria is worse.”
So I’m quite content to take the flight, albeit nervous about arriving in Douala, a city that’s infamous for crime and violence. I’m going to bus it out of there as soon as possible and head toward the southwest provinces. First stop: Limbe and its black sand beaches.
I’ll see you there!