Day 3: Travel up to Bamenda
- Written by Keir Hammer
- Published: 27 May 2014
With an elevation climb of over 6000 ft. we moved from the coastal to the grassland region of Cameroon.
The heat and humidity are not nearly as intense in this part of Cameroon, although it is still hot and dusty as the rainy season has not yet reached this area.
Driving in Cameroon is quite the experience. Sometimes there are three “lanes” sometimes two (on what would be a two-lane road in Canada). Besides the cars, there are many, many motorcycles, which weave through the narrow gaps between cars, large trucks and the constant stream of people. People are always walking at the side of the road, seemingly oblivious to the constant stream of traffic. Sometimes you will see an entire class of children travelling home from school along the side of the road (recognize them by their uniforms). There is no rope for them to grab, no adults in front and behind—often there are not adults with them at all. In the 6 hour trip from the city of Mutengene to the city of Bamenda, we almost never had a time without people along the side of the road. Yet it has its own kind of order. Although I am told that accidents do occur, we never saw a single one on the entire trip. The best rule of the road seem to be: always yield to that which is larger. Picture: Motorcycles are all over, even in smaller, quieter towns.
Cameroon is an amazing nation. The bulk of the population is hard-working, creative and very entrepreneurial. While much of their lives are very different from the Western “ideal,” they manage to make a reasonable living on very limited incomes. Food is everywhere—this is the breadbasket of West Africa and you are usually allowed to collect food from the field, although only for personal need, not to sell. Meat is a part of the diet, but it differs from the usual fare. Chickens are everywhere, and served as a source of eggs and meat. However, I don’t think everything tastes like chicken. We saw rodents of various kinds for sale at the side of the road (they just hold the dead animal up and wave it to attract your attention). I did not eat any rat or other rodent species, but did enjoy some roast goat and fresh fruit. Picture: A women sells fruit at the "side" of the road.
In contrast, medical care might not be so readily available, at least if it were not for the work of the Cameroon Baptist Convention Health Services. As we travelled for miles past thousands of people I was struck by the clear value of the Health Centres (both Primary and Integrated) that continue to expand in order to serve the medical needs of Cameroonians.