19 August 2016

Travelling to Bamenda and Ring Road

There are various ways to relax while waiting for one's transport to set off.
With our week off in March, we decided to visit Northwest and West Regions while my family was in Cameroon. These regions are well known for their fondoms, chefferies and sultanates – with palaces and museums displaying aspects of their culture. The area is also on a much higher elevation than Douala, so we were looking forward to cooler weather.

Brand new bus!
After a few hours in the Bonaberi gare routiere (according to Garanti Express tout Alphonse, “Other companies delay, delay, delay! – we leave between 7AM and 11AM.”), we set off for Bamenda around 11:30. The bus was newly arrived from the port (a Chinese import), and had AC, an overly loud sound system, and plastic wrap over the seats which the driver was reluctant to let us remove.

I probably should have budgeted the time a little differently, but after an eight hour ride we had one night's rest before heading for Mt. Oku, Cameroon's second highest mountain. On the way we stopped at Prespot near Ndop. Prespot is a small ceramics factory; some of their products are sold overseas, while others are available onsite or at company stores in Bamenda and Limbe.

Potter's wheel at work.
A potter showed us around, demonstrating how they produced clay from nearby, and how they manipulated it on their foot-powered wheels. Potters are paid for their items as they are sold, and he explained that demand was sufficient that he worked there full-time, and didn't engage in farming to supplement his income or provide food.

Pottery shards.
We then continued to a spot where we could view Mt. Oku's crater lake, where local superstition discourages swimming. In hindsight, we probably should have explicitly requested our excursion organizers take us down to the crater lake, even if swimming wasn't in the offing.

The road to Oku. Bumpy but passable in the dry season.

Cultural history/advisory on Lake Oku.
We arrived in Oku, where we going to spend the night camping before setting off up the mountain the next morning. We had a nice visit to the Fon of Oku's palace, then made for our campsite which happened to be in the middle of Oku, which is a surprisingly large town.

Moral Education in a classroom in the Fon's Palace: How to apologize to your teacher.

Spiders are a symbol of wisdom and power in many communities in Northwest Region.

The Fon's son, David, showed us around the palace and later showed us the hotel he runs. We went there for drinks later, and received the kind offer to traipse back up the road if we needed to “ease ourselves” later that night.

Vanity license plate for the king/fon.

Artwork at the Fon's palace in Oku.

We bedded down for the night in anticipation of a relatively gentle hike to the crater lake on Mt. Oku.

Hotel King David opposes Ebola (obscured briefcase) and Boko Haram.

Lunch establishment in Oku.

Our encampment between the church and the local primary school.

1 comment:

Rhea Becker said...

I just met a woman from Cameroon yesterday. She lives in Brookline now. She said Cameroon is beautiful.