Thursday, 1 August 2013


I'm sitting in the Istanbul airport, drinking a Turkish beer, when a fellow takes the seat beside us. A burly hunk of a guy, he wants to know where we are from. When we ask, he's Turkish and on his way to  a kickboxing competition in Thailand.
Across from me at another table  I watch an older Oriental lady sipping beer and fanning herself. There is something quite elegant or regal about who she might be. The airport is full of milling,  shopping people of all descriptions. We blend in easily, two more travelers bound for somewhere else with no desire to visit or actually purchase anything in the "Duty Free"
No, we have enough stuff already.
In the lounge for our flight a young couple, white, among all the black faces, each speak to us. They are Cameroonian residents, working in a school in Yaounde, both born in Africa, she speaks with an Illinois accent. Super friendly and offering much info about Cameroon I'm struck again by the reality of actually being somewhere as opposed to  reading the warnings from the state department on the net.
My experience of people everywhere is that they are friendly.  A stern or seemingly unfriendly stare or gaze is often disarmed with a simple hello. And, placing oneself in challenging or compromising situations puts you at risk . Obviously.
On the bus to Bamenda I take a seat at the back so I can sit more comfortably. The guy beside me is huge and intimidating looking. I offer my hand to shake and he shares his trouble sitting in the cramped seats. His two boys perched beside him stare unashamedly at me for most of the trip.

The terrain is a visual feast; dense jungle looks like a lot of trees and undergrowth, the occasional plantation of banana, oil palm or coconut completely engulfed by the vines and miscellaneous greenery that seems to take about a week to reassert itself. Along the road to Yaounde there were smashed (usually front end) abandoned cars about every 5 km interspersed occasionally with trucks like dead animals, their wheels in the air, in the ditches and rolled down the banks. No buses thankfully.
Many of the towns along the way have speed bumps along with disrepair and considerable gaps in the road (pot hole does not begin to describe them) which, depending on how adroitly our driver swerves, has me airborn or looking down at the ground. That and the near misses of passing vehicles drives me to reading my e reader. That is when I'm able to focus on the jerking screen.
When we stop halfway (maybe!)  the food vendors are all over us  Most can speak some English, pidgin and French so we are able to understand... mostly.  Cassava in a long sausage shape, roasted plantain,
a peanut or pistachio paste wrapped in a banana leaf with hot spices and a  small purple eggplant looking fruit I saw in the trees that's roasted then eaten cold. Try and find that at home!

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