Sunday 10th March 2013
Belo to Bamenda
Up at 7am today for an 8am breakfast at the camp. Everistus went to the town to get a driver to take us back to Bamenda and he came back at about 9.15am and we packed our bags into the car and set off. After about 5km we got to the village of Belo, where the driver picked up another man who had a huge amount of stuff to overload the boot of the car. A huge heavy sack of something, long pieces of wood that appeared to be part of a bed, some bags, and a petrol can. So after he was loaded in, and another person shortly afterwards, we set off towards Bamenda. A little while later another man waved us down and the driver was keen to let him in. At this point there were 3 of us in the back seat and 2 passengers plus the driver in the front. An argument then developed between the driver and our guide. Apparently cars can have 4 passengers in the back and 3 passengers plus the driver in the front – 1 passenger sits between the driver and his door! Evaristus reminded the driver that he had paid for the whole back seat regardless of how many were sitting in it and that he had paid for himself to sit in the front, whereas he was in the back with us. After some heated discussion the driver went on and didn’t pick anyone else up. As previously this driver was a maniac going alternately a reasonable speed and then careering round corners so fast, you felt that your time had come and the signs they have in all the cars – like trust in God and He will save you – all seemed to be about to come true. He roared through small villages at about 90km/h with motor bikes and pedestrians close by. Finally after a pretty horrendous ride he dropped us off and we caught another taxi the few hundred metres up the hill to the guesthouse where we were staying for tonight. We arrived at about 11.15am and then went out again to visit Mankon Palace and Museum, about 15km out of Bamenda. This taxi driver was also a maniac and drove on the wrong side of the road – pretty scary. We also had to stop to put water in his radiator. Anyway, we finally arrived at the museum and were shown through by a senior member of the Fon’s (King’s) household. This Fon is a senior member of the ruling political party in Cameroon and the guide was very interesting. We saw the bed (small wooden) where supposedly all the fons have been conceived, learned about the way the successor is chosen, heard that a celebration is held when the Fon is installed and then again when his eldest male child is 15 years old because that means there will be someone to take over if the Fon ‘goes missing’ [aka dies]. We heard about the magical powers that are used, and also that, if someone runs off with one of the wives, the Fon has powers to bring them back. If the man willingly brings her back he will be punished but allowed to live and the wife will have to behave herself for 2 years and then will be allowed to sleep with the Fon again. If she doesn’t learn her lesson the Fon will have nothing more to do with her but she will be allowed to live in the palace, have access to money, and should she have any illegitimate children the Fon will give them his name. All very interesting. After the museum visit, the guide told us that he would not be able to show us through the palace as he was late for a meeting back in town and by the way was it OK if he scammed a ride back in the taxi with us. So off we went back to town and Everistus treated us to lunch (pizza and beer – yummy) after which we walked back to the guesthouse and had a shower and sat out on the veranda and tried to get the blog done. At around 6.30pm while it was raining, the power went off so we are sitting in our room with torches and a candle. Dinner should be ready soon – they cook with gas and probably a pretty early night.
Power is now back on so at least there are lights.