Tuesday 5th March 2013
Foumban to Bamenda
Up early today for a 7am breakfast in the guest house, still no water from the taps this morning. Had coffee, baguette, hard-boiled egg and pineapple, then packed our bags. About 9am, we were picked up by our guide in a taxi and drove the short distance to the bus station where the bus filled up in about 10 minutes (how amazing!) and we set off for Bamenda via Bafoussam through all the little and big villages. We changed buses in Bafoussam and our next bus also filled up quickly (our lucky day). On the seat in front of us, on 3 seats, there were 4 adults, including two ladies, one of whom had two small children and one of whom had one small child and twin babies. The small child was tied onto her back and she carried one twin in each arm. As she stepped on to the bus, she handed one twin baby to a lady in the row in front of her and the other to the man at the end of her row, both of whom looked decidedly uncertain about the whole thing (probably thought they were just holding the babies for a minute – wrong!). The mother never spoke to either person for the whole trip and they just continued to hold the babies and then gave them back to the mother when she stepped off the bus at the Bamenda bus terminal. Quite strange really – no one complains about being shoved up so close to everyone else and no babies ever seem to complain, even though they are treated pretty poorly sometimes. The bus had a total of 17 seats and carried 22 adults and 6 children including the babies. Anyway, we arrived at the bus terminal and caught a taxi to the Zwinkels Guest House (where our guide Everistus lives and his aunty works). Zwinkels is the Dutch company with whom we are travelling while we are here in Cameroon. It is a large house set in a large garden at the top of a hill with sweeping views across the town to the mountains on the other side of the valley. We arrived there about 1.30pm and had a beer on the veranda and also had a light lunch. The day was quite warm but it looked as though there might be a storm later. We then spent quite a while getting the blog up to date as it had been a few days since we had a good internet connection and came back to our room and read our books for a while before dinner. We then went to the dining room for dinner. We are the only guests here tonight – dinner was large – vegetables, meat balls, rice, sauce plus a huge salad, and pineapple for dessert. Enough for about six people, but there was only us. Then back to our room for a small aperitif before bedtime.
Wednesday 6th March 2013
Bamenda and Bafut
Today we were up at about 7am and had breakfast at 8am as we were leaving at 9am for the palace and museum at Bafut about 20km away. However about 4-5km out of Bamenda there was a blockade of the road by taxis happening and we weren’t able to proceed any further – finally our guide negotiated with a taxi drivers Union leader for us to be taken by a different taxi on the other side of the blockade to the village of Bafut. Apparently the taxi drivers were in dispute with the local council about fines and the taxi drivers were fed up and decided on action. Anyway we were delayed about ¾ of an hour and finally arrived at the palace – the queen had been ringing our guide trying to find out when we were going to arrive. For the tour of the museum and palace grounds, the queen (Queen Constance – one of the king’s many queens – she had nine children ranging in age from 26 down to 10) was to be our guide. She took us through the museum explaining the history of the Bafut people and the war they had with the Germans that lasted for 10 years because they didn’t want to be controlled by the Germans (we thought quite rightly) – however the tribe eventually lost the war and they burnt down the palace grounds buildings etc. and the Germans (once they were friendly again) helped them rebuild everything including a museum eventually. Queen Constance was very charming, friendly and spoke extremely good English. One of her daughters had trained to be a doctor in Sydney and