January 8, 2012
Our Toyota was loaded up sky high and ready to leave for Bamenda as soon as lunch was over after church. We ate at a lovely Asian restaurant owned by a Vietnamese American. Our whole team was there with the exception of Kym and Alyssa who had gone on public transportation ahead of us to Bamenda. Once lunch was over we piled into our VERY full vehicle – all 7 of us in what we would consider a 5 passenger vehicle since that is how many seatbelts there are, heading north for what should be about a 6 hour drive. I got the giggles when Kyle, Drew, Levi and I all had to turn sideways just to get the back doors shut. Once the doors were shut we settled down, completely squished from door to door, I can’t tell you how glad I was that I insisted Kyle put deodorant on before we left. Ellie and Kaley were in the front with Ellie straddling the stick shift. I think Peg was the only one with a full seat to herself, which was good because she was the one driving us. Thankfully for Drew, Peg has short legs, which allowed him some leg room and some space for the extra bags that didn’t fit on the roof rack or in the back.
The ride seemed to go fast at first as we were taking in all the sights. There are so many people going in all different directions, the driving conditions are a bit crazy. The further we traveled from Yaounde, the worse the road conditions became, although for the most part the road is in fairly good condition, tarred and everything. As you get to open market areas there are speed bumps along the way – some are marked better than others and with our full load on top there were times we wondered if it would all stay in place. The majority of the trip is just one road north but as you enter cities there are these turn a bouts that can get very confusing since all the roads look alike. In the town of Bafousma (?), we got on a wrong road, which became obvious when there was no longer tar but these deep dirt pits, people were everywhere and pointing at us (but probably because they thought we were going to lose our load on top). Peg found a place to turn around and we headed back the way we came, she had things under control but if was getting dark and we still had at least an hour to go. Needless to say, there were some tense moments in the car and I’m sure we were all praying silently for both protection and direction. I kept thinking how greatful I was that we had so many of our friends praying for us, even if they had no idea what kind of a situation we were in.
We did got back on the road to Bamenda but it was slower going in the dark, it’s harder to see the pot holes or the speed bumps. Arriving in Bamenda, we again got turned around for a bit but soon Peg recognized where she was again. About this time, Peg started noticing that our brakes were not working well – I was very thankful we had a stick shift which would give us a little more control. We turned onto our last dirt road taking us to our place of rest for the night and it was steep and windy. Knowing our brakes were not working made that another tense moment or two but God was gracious
We arrived at the La Verna Spiritual Retreat, which is a retreat center run by these beautiful Cameroonian nuns. They had a lovely meal set out for us and Kym and Alyssa were waiting for us too. We were all exhausted but thankful to be in such a lovely place.