Before starting the summer activities in Duékoué, I took a quick vacation to visit my friend Boniface in Cameroun. He is a Jesuit studying in Ottawa and we met at the University there. He is Cameroonian and this summer was his time to come and visit home. We were going to meet in the Ivory Coast but at the end logistics worked out better that I met him in his homecountry, and for me the change of air was very welcome too.
Yaoundé is the capital. West Africa is famous for many things but pleasant capital cities are not among them. Then Yaoundé comes along: green and spread over seven hills, it is well planned, clean and not the chaos of Abidjan or Douala. The weather is nice and it has a collection of government buildings from the 70s that are interesting to watch.
We did a bit of a tour around visiting family and friends. In Bamenda, adoptive mother was super happy and yelled non-stop in the phone when asked if she was up to for a visit. We also visited the cathedral there.
Then in Limbe I saw the first black beach I have ever seen in my life. The first thing I thought was: an oil spill? But then I learned it is black because of the volcanic soil there. Very beautiful and quite interesting!
Cameroun is such a fertile land, everything grows here. People harvest four times a year and I swear that one breaths and the pinneaple grows there. Just like that. One of the uncles we visited has the theory that such is the reason why there is no armed conflict in Cameroun, despite the fact that nobody is happy with the way the government is run. He says that it is easier to tolerate a bad government when there is no hunger. I am still thinking about that. Anyways, here are a couple of pictures from the highway with all kinds of plantations on the way: palmtrees, banana, corn, cacao, pineapples, manioc (cassava), carrots, tomatoes, oranges, papayas, avocados… and of course, everything is sold at very little price.
In Buea we visited the tea plantantions. Cameroun has very good tea and its production reaches all the surrounding countries, especially the muslim population.
And by chance we found a Marian sanctuary there. Now, I am not very much a sanctuary or pilgrimage person, but this little place of prayer was built in the middle of the forest. There is a statue of Mary in the middle of the waterfall surrounded by lush vegetation and the brightest flowers, such a beautiful and peaceful place.
In Kribi the beach sand was fine, the water clear, the pastries delicious, fresh fish on the menu and cold beer on tap… there are times when Africa hugs you. We had breakfast at the local fish market which is an experience of its own, here described in pictures:
In Kribi we also visited the Lobe waterfalls which empty directly into the sea
And then took a pirogue to visit a Pigmee camp. The Pigmees live really in the middle of the forest in very traditional ways, they have just plain avoided modernization. The best part of this visit was the peace while navigating the river. It was lush all around, I kept some quietness for the moments that I find myself in the middle of the Abidjan traffic and chaos…
No wonder why it is said that Cameroon is all Africa in one country. It has all the ecosystems, it has English and French (and many local languages), it has Christians, Muslims and traditional religious practices, it has good roads and bad roads, it has poor people, rich people and everything in between. The level of education and development, if not the highest in the region, should be close there. That is evident in the conversations and how everybody follows the regional happenings. Cameroun is a beautiful beautiful country with even more beautiful and joyful people.