08 September 2015

Edea and Lac Ossa

Our dirt road from Edea didn't make it to Google Maps.

For our first weekend in Cameroon, we decided to go on a day trip outside Douala. After a shared taxi to Terminus, we promptly joined a station wagon travelling the 50kms to Edea. With traffic getting in and out of the city, it took us about 2 ½ hours to reach Edea.

Once there we admired a couple of small hydroelectric plants on the Sanaga / Bras Mort river, as well as a hundred year old bridge built by the Germans. Photos were “interdit” but after chatting with Blaise (no relation to Campaore!), the soldier on the town side of the bridge, we were permitted to take a few pictures.

After reading a sign commemorating German-Cameroonian relations (put up for the 100th anniversary of the bridge) and checking out a statue of a former chief, we started heading north out of town as our guidebook described Lac Ossa as being near Edea. Further inquiries revealed that it was in fact 20 kilometers off the main road so we headed back to town to negotiate transport.

As we asked around at the car park, we learned that the deleterious state of the road made for limited options for traversing the route to Lac Ossa. (Blair was asked for her phone number during one of these exchanges.) So we ended up renting Raymond and his moto-taxi's services, and began our journey after some negotiation (it turned out neither Raymond, being new to the area, nor we were quite aware how long the trip would be).

We set off but were quickly met with rains (it is the rainy season) so we occasionally stopped until the rain stopped and the dirt track would be easier to maneuver on. We passed a few outfits that were dredging sand from the river (some Chinese, some Cameroonian), and were soon on a large concession owned by SAFACAM. SAFACAM is a French agricultural company that received its mandate before the end of colonialism. We passed many acres of palm oil, banana and rubber tree plantations. The latter reminded me of my travels through Firestone's land in Liberia in 2007. Firestone ran its own checkpoints within its vast concession; it was akin to a separate country.
The rubber plantation (with umbrella). These trees hadn't been tapped yet.

After several rain stops, and one for repairs in SAFACAM's workers' village of Dizangue (the company provides housing and other facilities so that they can keep their workforce near their workplaces), we completed our 20 kms journey after about two hours when we arrived at “Club Ossa.” A large veranda looking out on the lake, Club Ossa's didn't see much business (although perhaps it is tied to the payday of SAFACAM's workers, many of whom live in modest company housing with their families). We proceeded down the hill to the lake, where we admired the shore and sought shelter from the rain once more.

A fisherman's pirogue and Lac Ossa.

We came back uphill and enjoyed a beer (the waiter was not keen on Raymond's selection of Isenbeck) and a nap at Club Ossa while we waited for a heavier rainstorm to subside. We got to learn a bit more about Raymond, who is new to the moto-taxi business in Edea. In October he expects to return to his cocoa farm in Kumba, and apparently also has a cafe in Buea. Raymond also made a trip to Sokoto, Nigeria a couple of years ago – a two day car journey from Cameroon.

View of Lac Ossa from Club Ossa.

We then headed back down the hill. Once we got to the end of the dirt road, we were met by several entrepreneurial young men who washed down our vehicle and shoes for a nominal fee (and one request for a kiss – these men in Edea are fast!). Once back in town we said our goodbyes to Raymond (who we've since gotten together with in Douala a couple of times) and hopped on a minibus back to Douala.

Raymond and Blair wait out the rain at Club Ossa.

We read, and also talked with people in Edea, about the Douala-Edea Reserve. This would also be an unpaved excursion to explore a forested area – a trip we'll save for the dry season!

Motorcycle and "bumster" lizard.

Lac Ossa.


Rhea Becker said...

I'm catching up with your Cameroon posts and just read this one. I love them! I feel like I'm there. Keep 'em coming!

ChristoG said...

Thanks Rhea! Blair is going to start making contributions soon too!