How much sweat can a human body leak just sitting at a laptop in the evening?
Never a question I previously pondered. But it is a hellava lot!
I spent the last several days up in the transboundary area near Korup NP, where the Cameroon/Nigeria border is a leafy line in the forest, and where much more time than originally I thought was consumed by the bushmeat trade. That area is a non-stop flood of hunted meat traveling through villages, along rainforest roads and especially across the border into Nigeria...
Against all odds —
Heart, passion, courage, Rachel Hogan and her staff at Ape Action Africa are running Mefou Primate Park south of Yaoundé Cameroon against all odds — and for over 110 chimpanzees and 20 Western lowland gorillas beating the odds is their only insurance of a future
The road to Yaoundé —
The day started in the dark a bit before 5am in Limbe, the urgency was impressed on me from everyone I spoke to, but most succinctly by Ivo my driver, "If we don't pass Douala by six we shall be stuck, so stuck, maybe two, three (wave of the hand) four hours." That began a seven and a half hour, three police stop, two truck crash, one coca-cola cannaiblization saga that terminated in one of the worst traffic messes in Yaoundé the capitol I have ever seen. But I'm writing about it, so I made it to my interviews (my next posting.)
It hasn’t taken long to discover the center of the Cameroonian wildlife Universe began at Limbe. Somehow, someway, just about everyone in Cameroon, ex-pat anyway, connected to wildlife can be linked to Limbe Wildlife Center; the Cameroonian Kevin Bacon affect. It’s not necessarily the natural epicenter, but history has chosen it—why exactly is still a mystery, I suspect the British had something to do with it, but over the next few weeks I hope to find out why.
Access to the internet creates some of the strangest juxtapositions. This morning once I could log on—a three-hour hit and miss ordeal—an email from WWF-US was waiting. It announced, “The number of gorillas and chimpanzees in Central Africa continues to decline due to poaching, habitat loss and disease according to a new plan published by WWF, International Union for Conservation of Nature, Wildlife Conservation Society and partners.
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.
You would think after 30 plus years of working freelance (no, in this case that is not code for I don’t have a job) I would have figured out that projects, especially big gnarly ones like Great Apes 2020 are a roller-coaster — and one in every manner imaginable: economic, logistic and especially emotional. The past couple weeks have definitely been a microcosm of the whole adventure.