Monday, August 28, 2006

Bright lights of Douala

Last week we went to Douala for a couple of days. Douala is Cameroon's biggest city although it is not the capital, which is Yaounde. Its about 70km from Buea. We went for a bit of a break and to explore. We went by bus, which was interesting. There is no timetable the buses, they just leave when they are full. It cost 1300 CFA which is about £1.50. Which is cheaper than a bus from Kidlington to Oxford city!! The rules of the bus are quite simple!!

A bus is full we discovered, when there are 4 people sitting on each row of 3 seats. The forth person on our row ended up being a rather traditionally built lady. So the ride was not too comfortable. It took about 1 1/2 hours as we stopped every so often for some random reasons. When we arrived in Douala we had to get a taxi to a roundabout where we had to get another taxi to our hotel. Douala is in French speaking Cameroon.The taxi drivers did not understand what we were saying. In the end some motorbike taxi drivers said they knew our hotel. So we ended up on the back of two motorbikes. Fun but scary!! Once we had got change and managed to pay them we went in to the hotel. It is a haven in a hectic city. Gorgeous pool set in a beautiful garden. Lovely restaurant and bar and hot showers.
We do not have many photos of Douala. This is for two reason. Firstly there is not much to photograph and secondly I was too scared to get my camera out! When we first arrived there were pickpockets everywhere. A guy had his hand in Joe's pocket as he was getting on to the motorbike (did not get anything) and my bag had been opened (nothing taken).

Douala is expensive, as every big city does, it eats money. Beer cost more than a pound for a small bottle. We are used to getting big bottles for half the price. Food is expensive a meal cost us about £10. That's alot of money in Cameroon . Taxis cost more, everything costs more. We were getting quite used to only spending about £10-15 a week!! It will be hard adjusting back to Oxford prices.

While we were in Douala and spending money fast we went to the cash machine to get more money. Armed with our money belt we braved the hectic streets. Took a while to find a cash machine that was working and took out card but we found one a got the cash. Then on the walk home it started pouring with rain. We had taken out brolly to Douala but did not bother taking it out as we were only popping to the bank!! We got absolutely soaked. I was wearing a cream skirt which when wet meant my money belt was on full view!! Fortunately all the street traders were hiding from the rain so we had a hassle free walk back to the hotel. Blessing in a wet disguise. Must remember to go and get cash in the rain more often. Not wearing white or cream though! As we were soaking wet we decided to go for a swim which was great. I love swimming in the rain, it reminds me if school.

We went to the Museum of Douala. Had loads of artifacts from Cameroon's past. Including original agreements with Queen Victoria to end the slave trade. We looked at the cathedral (pictured above) and went to the craft market, bought some masks. We ate some nice food, including pizza did not realise how much I missed cheese!! Went for a swim (in the rain) and had hot showers. Wondered round the shops, stalls and supermarket. Great few days away but glad to get back to the friendly sleepy Buea.


Ann said...

That bus ride sounds rather daunting, as does the entire trip! You two are Brave Brits. I hope you didn't fight or vomit-- your country's reputation depends on things like that.

Heather said...

I know where you got that 'traditionally built' line! Can you explain to me how a guy called McCall Smith ends up writing about a woman in Africa?