Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Buea to Bamenda

The generosity and friendliness of Cameroonian people is remarkable. Our hostess in Buea, Rose, arrived early to drive us to the bus on Sunday morning herself, dispensing with her driver so she could attend church. Traffic was light and after unloading all our baggage we thanked her for her  kindness promising to stay in touch.
 Busses here are an adventure by themselves. Our 8 o’clock departure  actually left at 10 what with loading everyones' bags, root crops, furniture: a couch and two matching stuffed chairs. (Moving van? whats that? )  on the roof. Passengers getting on and off, buying food and water for the trip and  possibly reselling tickets for already sold seats. Likely the folks who arrived with their complete kitchen cabinets, disassembled but well past the projected departure time, wanting their kitchen pieces piled on top of the now tarped and ready to go pile will be taking a later bus.
We had purchased tickets for front seats assuming, incorrectly there would be more leg room. That seat is beside the passenger door where everyone who enters the back of the bus must rest their arms as they haul themselves over the folding seats between seats where one expects an aisle…. So in the case of a quick exit it might be advised to use a window. However.
When we finally left, behind us a fellow stood in the entrance preaching away until the next stop, (barely 15 minutes) where he collected coins and exited the bus. At first I thought he was giving a safety speech, but he never stopped talking and the frequent insertion of Jesus, Almighty Father and other familiar expressions soon cleared up that misunderstanding.
The moment the bus stops there are women children and young men hawking things at the windows. Squared loaves of white bread mostly, groundnuts, bottles of pop, boiled eggs and occasionally bananas. Further north we were offered tangerines, kola nuts, more white bread and bobolo: thin sausages of cassava  wrapped  in banana leaf. Mostly tasteless, the consistency of rubber,  a translucent worm of starch accompanying most street food here.
As the bus motored on we passed through numerous towns, police checks and some spectacular scenery climbing from a broad valley switch-backing up a bamboo covered mountain. Even on this steep hillside folks are carving out their farms to grow what food they can. Much of the countryside has been transformed by people cutting down the trees to grow corn and cassava.
Sitting up front we had a great view of approaching buses and trucks, like the fuel carrier apparently leaking/spraying (I hope ) diesel on our windscreen. I was surprised the driver, when we finally stopped for a bathroom and food break, didn’t bother cleaning it off.
There were a few scary moments as approaching passing cars and trucks swerved last minute back into there lane and when our driver suddenly swerved off the road as an even bigger bus passed us while another equally large bus approached in the opposite lane the whole busload heaved a sigh of relief.
The last 40 km were the longest. I have never seen a road in such bad shape to a major destination. This is the route,  only way into Bamenda from the south. Every bus, freight truck and I assume any government officials must travel this potholed, bone cracking, jerky excuse for a road. It took us almost two hours to finally reach our destination. Darkness fell and we hauled our bags off to the side as it began to rain which then erupted into a drenching downpour. Welcome to Bamenda!

1 comment:

  1. Great descriptions CM. If you ever get a chance to talk to a higher-up you might want to chide them about that road. You could tell them the story of "Wacky Bennett" and how he built roads and dams all over BC.