Joseph Bloggs

Online home of Joseph Talbot: Little Briton

Main menu

Bright Lights, Big City - Bit Sweaty

28 August 2006 - 8:53pm -- Joseph

We went to Douala for a few days last week, which is the economic capital of Cameroon (the big city...) Douala's not too far from Buea, but it's on the coast and at sea level, so it's a lot hotter than Buea. It was nice to get some sun, though we did get caught out without our umbrella and got soaked.

We had a good time, it was nice to get venture further from Buea and see some of the country. When we arrived in the country, it got dark during our drive up to Beua, so this was our first real chance to take in the scenery. And the scenery's pretty impressive. Cameroon get a lot if rain (as I think I may have mentioned...) and is warm throughout the year, so it's a very fertile place (and not just for plants, Marceline has about seven sisters...) Once you get down off Mount Cameroon, the terrain is pretty flat leading to the Douala on the coast. We drove through fields of banana trees, tea plantations, and palm groves.

The bus ride itself was pretty interesting, it was a 12-seater, with the rules of passage painted on the interior of the cab: no fighting, no vomiting . We were sitting pretty at the back of the bus, until a big woman with a huge bum came and joined us. That sure plugged the gaps...

Arriving in Douala was pretty stressful. We got off the bus at the out-of-town bus stop and into a taxi to the centre, no problem. we were dropped off at Round-Point, which as far as I can tell is just a big roundabout. The taxi we hailed had never heard of our hotel. We ended up getting motor-bike riders to drive us. This seems a common thing in Douala, but clearly not advisable for the two of us, just arrived, to be whisked away on different bikes. I was glad to get away from Round-Point though, as we were being hassled by some guy who'd undone Hev's rucksack pocket, and tried to pickpocket me. He wasn't very subtle about it though.

You suck mate.

The bike ride was 'hairy' (as my dad would put it) but fun, and got us to the hotel (though getting change to pay them as a struggle, as usual).

The Hotel, once located, was wonderous. The restaurant and bar were set around a swimming pool and grassed area, enclosed by trees with no buildings visible beyond it, all of which gave the impression of a peaceful haven. Entering the area direct from the mean streets of Douala, it certainly felt like it. The Hotel's called The Foyer Du Marin (The German seaman's Mission) and we'll be going there again (and you should too, highly recommended).

So we had lunch and freshened up a bit (hot shower, oh man, that was good....) then had a look around. Douala's a pretty hectic place especially for Whites (hey whiteman, whiteman), everyone wants a piece of you (the mobile phone salesman are the worst - some things don't change...), but we managed not to get robbed, or cajoled into buying stuff which we didn't want (just).

We went to the main museum, and found out a lot about Cameroon's history. Some of it we already knew (The name Cameroon derives from the observation of the Portuguese, the first Westerners to land at what is now Douala, that the river was alive with Prawns - 'Rio dos Camarões' ). Some of it we didn't (the Dutch introduced slavery to Cameroon).

We also went to a Craft market and bought some masks (passport masks, apparently). We were going to get two, but he talked us into buying three, which turned out to be handy, because I later broke one. They're made of quite crumbly clay, which is apparently more fragile than it looks. It's been suer-glued back together, but I'm no restorer...

We had a slight panic when we were running low on cash and couldn't find a cash point that was in working order and would accept our cars, but third time lucky we managed. On the way back to the hotel, it started raining. Heavily. This was good, in that all the 'hey mon Ami' pickpockets had disappeared, but bad because we arrived back at the hotel looking like a pair of drowned rats (though this did at least give the barman some amusement). Since we were wet already we went for a swimming. The barman clearly thought we were nuts, as it was still raining, but it was good fun, very refreshing, and Hev had been dying for a swim.

The next day we checked out, had a look around some street stalls. I got a couple of Cameroon football t-shirts (cotton t-shirts, not replicas). We tried to get the Cheeseburger I'd been lusting after from a place called Harrolds, who's sign was rendered in the style of a well known Knightsbridge department store (do you see what they've done there...). Unfortunately they were out of hamburgers. Dammit. So one overloaded bus ride later (back seat again, five of us plus three children this time - 'Madam, did you buy tickets for the children? - No? Budge up then' - when will we learn?) and we were back in Buea. It was lovely to get back: cool, calm and friendly. Now that we're back I feel all at home in Buea.

Now if it'll just stop raining...



Sounds like a great place apart from the pickpockets. Nothing wrong with swimming in the rain though - unless it's February and in Margate.


Add new comment

Filtered HTML

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.