05 May 2016

Douala sights

When my family came to Cameroon in March, we made an enjoyable visit to the (link may begin playing French narration) Musee Maritime / Maritime Museum in Douala. The cost was very low, guides spoke English as well as French, and there was an interactive amusement ride to boot.

Musee Maritime in Bonanjo, Douala.

Although photos weren't permitted indoors, we got to see pictures of Cameroon's history with water (including artifacts belonging to the Sawa people who live on the coast) as well as naval artifacts, a replica of a ship's bridge, information on Cameroon's ports (including the new one in Kribi), and a couple of guys hanging out watching a Premier League match. While Peter (“Office Head – Guidage” his business card proclaims) was not in the Navy nor did he work in shipping, he was an amiable fellow and was able to explain much of what we saw.

A view of the port from the Musee Maritime, with timber ready to be shipped overseas.

The Musee Maritime suffered fire damage a year or so ago, and was recently reopened with some new features, including a large theatre which is available for rent and may be superior to the Institut Francais's cinema/performance hall. (My favorite feature of the latter is the large speakers that are suspended from the ceiling by chains wrapped around metal bars.)

The Douala port through the porthole.

The piece de resistance of this visit, however, was the Case des Tempetes. This features a 3D short film about a man who became an outcast who was sold into slavery. Unfortunately, the video does not dwell on any historical details of the slave trade and its effects, and instead the mechanical pirogues we were in began moving up and down to simulate the sea near Bimbia, and a hose occasionally sprayed water at us.

It was an incongruously entertaining ride, and the museum staff refused our offer to return the 3D glasses – the only other 3D theatre I know of in Cameroon is one in Ebolowa, capital of South Region, whose opening I read about in a Google News Alert.

Brochure for the Case des Tempetes video/ride.

Of course no visit to Douala, be you a PCV posted elsewhere in Cameroon or a family member, is complete without a visit to Marina 2000, the bar/restaurant/amusement park on the riverbank in Youpwe!

The salvaging of parts of the Arctic Voyager, moored in Youpwe, proceeds apace.

My dad and aunt also made a trip to the train station to purchase tickets for their trip to Yaounde. The Douala airport was closed for three weeks in March for repairs, which meant all outbound flights left Yaounde instead. 

The exterior of Gare Bessengue, and its clock tower.

As I've mentioned, Douala's train station is quite attractive although I didn't take any pictures. But my aunt asked around and heard no objections to photographing the station's exterior and interior so here are a couple of shots of the very pleasant Gare Bessengue (named after the neighbourhood where it's located).

The roof inside the Douala train station.

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