Limbe, Cameroon — From what little of Cameroon I have seen in less than 24 hours, Douala is to be flown into and exited shortly there after. Limbe, on the other hand, eases up naturally on the senses. Nothing about the equatorial hot, humid confusion of Douala is inviting, nor the industrial confusion of the Bonabéri, the suburb lining the western side of the port. But 30 odd kilometers later, the minute you veer left at the split in the rural town of Mutengene (a town you apparently pass through and never stop — based on the diversity of thieves and their ways — trust me Ivo (Ivo Ngome, my driver and shadow for the next 30 days) gave me a running monologue about the dangers of this place including how the local thieves can hypnotize you and steal you blind, “even the police here are frightened, very frightened”) the thin tarmac road begins a gentle roller-coaster ride through green hills rowed in palm oil or banana. Between plantations tattered islands of remnant rainforest crest small hills and ravines, hints of what once was. Much of it is second growth forest, still, it reminds me there was once a lush rainforest sweeping over this landscape. Ivo, who grew up here, says it was always this way, always oil palms and rubber and bananas, “even from British times.” He is in his mid thirties, before him there was a different time.
Douala, Cameroon — I laid my head back on the hard pillow and felt the cool air of the conditioner evaporate the sweat from my chest. Before I could wonder if the catholic congregation singing below or the pounding tropical rain above would keep me awake I crashed. The 28 hours of travel from Portland, Oregon to Douala, Cameroon had caught up with me. A groggy jetlag was weighting my eyelids. It was just a few minutes past eight on a Saturday evening, but my clock was ticking soundly in another time zone, definitely not here. Friday night had been all but lost in terminal M between flights in Paris.