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Our crazy family

Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Amazing Race

Thursday morning we left Ndu and rode for 4 or 5 hours on the dusty bumpy road. It actually went quite well and we arrived in Bamenda with time to visit people. Our friend Steve had finished his mid-terms so we asked him to travel with us, and boy are we glad we did. Steve speaks French and English as well as a couple of other Cameroonian languages so he is quite handy to have around. Our family had rooms booked at the Bro Guest House run by SIL. The main office is easy to find but finding the actual house was another story. One of the SIL workers rode with us in our van and showed us the way. After just a quick stop we loaded back in the van to stop at the bank and get some of our personal money to use for our weekend excursion to the beach. Steve then negotiated a taxi for all of us to take us to the Baptist Conference Center where we had hoped to see Irene (our cook for part of our time in Ndu). Irene is a cook to a Canadian missionary named Elsie. I didn't realize the Baptist Center was so big but Elsie was known by everyone we met and we soon found her. Irene had gone home for the day but Elsie was very kind and welcomed us into her home. It ended up that she had met our friend Steve a few years ago in a class that she had taught. As we were talking, I saw Monie out the window and went running out to greet her. Monie is from Faith Baptist Church in Minneapolis and I had hoped to see her and her husband Jerry in Ndu but the timing was not right. I was thrilled at our unexpected meeting and enjoying our time together catching up. After the Baptist Center we took a taxi to a handicraft place to pick up souvenirs but unfortunately the place was closed and our taxi had already left. We were on a busy street but there were 6 of us and most taxis were not that big, so we just kept walking (or strolling as Steve called it). After walking for a long time, we came to the bus terminal so we checked on the bus schedule to Limbe for the next morning. Once that was taken care of we walked to Steve's aunt's home to see her (since we were in the neighborhood). After hanging out at her house for a while we invited her to Sister Rosa's with us to eat dinner... by this time it was already dark and we were all tired and hungry. The restaurant was a short walk from her home. By the time we arrived it was almost 8pm and we were told the fish would take a half hour... so we waited. The half hour ended up being an hour and we were all so tired it seemed even longer. We ate quickly and hailed a taxi to take us back to the guest house, the one that we had only seen once in the daylight. Steve was able to lead our taxi driver to our house with only a few misturns - we were all so thankful that at least one of us had paid attention to all the bumps and curves to where we were going. I barely remember my head hitting the pillow that night.
The next morning Drew and Steve were out of the house bright and early to book our bus tickets. The hope was to get good seats. (I typed all this up once and it disappeared) The short version is: We were told the bus would leave at 9am sharp - it left at 1108am. We were told it was about a 6 hour drive - we arrived at 830pm. If you had to go to the bathroom you could just yell at the driver and he would stop the bus to let you pee next to the bus for all to see - I chose a dehydration headache over drinking liquid all day. The bus was scheduled to go to Limbe and that is where all the passengers were planning on going but the driver thought he had to go to Doula. This meant we had to unload less than 30 kms from our destination and load another bus instead of going straight on through. Crazy sites along the way... but beautiful scenery too.
I had made reservations for the New Seme Beach Hotel in Limbe online - it was the only hotel I found that took online reservations. I went back and forth a few times through email with them because we didn't seem to be understanding each other but I finally felt like we were clear. Unfortunately, they only had us down for 4 people instead of 6. After looking at a couple of room options we settled on adding another room for Steve and Kyle onto our adjoining rooms. It was frustrating and more so because the man at the front desk seemed to have a chip on his shoulder right from the beginning with us. The other workers were very kind but I can't say that I would recommend this place if someone should ask. The prices here are much higher than in Ndu but right in line with American prices. In fact we asked about the Wildlife Refuge Center nearby and were told that the price to get in is 3000 cfa per person if you are a foreigner and 500 cfa if you are Cameroonian. The Hotel is right on the ocean and has air conditioning as well as a continental breakfast. It feels really weird being here after being in Ndu. I don't feel like I fit in here at all. We ate dinner in after 9pm again last night. For the past 2 months we have been locked in our house pretty much after supper and in bed most nights around 9pm, now in the past 2 nights we haven't even had supper by 9pm.

This morning I woke to the sounds of birds and the ocean. My heart was very thankful for these few days to go over my thoughts of these past 2 months and to relax and enjoy my last memories of Cameroon. We played at the beach for hours and had a very enjoyable day. We are tired but it's not the same as the exhaustion from traveling. We have another day of rest tomorrow. Monday we will try out a bigger bus to Yaounde' - I hear that it even has air conditioning! The flight home is going to seem like luxury to us... especially as we anticipate our arrival home. As we were traveling we started feeling like we had a glimpse of what people must feel like on the show "Amazing Race". Travel can bring out the worst of people but it can also make some of the best memories.

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