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No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow. - Lin Yutang

7 September 2019, Pouma to Edéa, 50.8km
Carrefour Hotel 6,000CFA (R150)  


“Bonjour Monsieur Blanc!”
It is an odd truth that although we often go many days, perhaps even weeks, without seeing a white person, we are seldom overly-conscious of our whiteness, nor, therefore, of blackness. We are made conscious when greeted as “blanc” or when we do see a white face, the latter jolt more likely to occur in a city. Other people, black Africans, are, of course, conscious of our whiteness, but seem to “get over” this quickly, far more quickly than they get over the fact that we are travelling by bicycle. On occasion, I am mistaken for Chinese; “Chinoise”, people call out, or greet me with “Nĭ hăo”, not entirely surprising given my squishy eyes and the fact that many Chinese work in Africa. I wonder if black people, when in a clear minority, feel as unthreatened and as comfortable as do we…
I have become enamoured with a phrase Charl read on the West Africa WhatsApp group: “Things in Africa seldom work, but they always work out”. It is true that there is much to criticise: bad design, bad workmanship, little maintenance, gerrymandering. Some of this is a result, no doubt, of the lower expectations and limited resources of poverty; some a cultural norm. We saw a billboard in Libreville, but were not able to photograph it sadly. It advertised wall paint, and showed someone with a brush painting an interior home wall in a pretty lilac. The painter had messed paint on the skirting board, something we see often, as well as on ceilings and light switches. It amazed and amused us that the advertiser saw this as so normal and acceptable, it was included in the image. Towns can be extraordinarily ugly. Badly constructed and finished buildings, rickety huts, refuse strewn, rutted mud. And yet, almost every night, we go to bed bathed and fed (sometimes in supremely mediocre fashion), having travelled largely functional roads on which drivers really try not to kill us.
Yaoundé sits at an elevation around 715m higher than Douala, yet someone managed to place an endless series of climbs between the two cities. Our drop to the coast, while easier by far than other routes we have travelled to date, is harder work than anticipated. This is made more so by traffic moving too fast for the narrow road and erratic shoulder. The corpses of trucks and cars lie strewn on the verges, a stark reminder to us to exercise caution.
We stopped to photograph a tree literally encased in cobwebs, then realised the home beside it was also a boutique selling grapefruit softdrinks. We wheeled our bikes to the verandah where four men were playing Ludo, and sat down just as the heavens opened. A woman ran from the house to remove her washing from the line, a kitten stood beside my chair, staring outward, and several chickens took shelter beneath the trailer of a rusted three-wheeler standing in the front yard.
We have been seeing bushmeat on sale again the last couple of days: cane rat, gazelle, and today a live pangolin. I can cope with the quick killing for food of forest animals, even the endangered, though the latter is distressing. I cannot cope with the effective torture of those captured alive and displayed on the roadside for sale in such a way that is painful to them. The pangolin's tail was taped to an upright branch, his body hanging upside down where his front feet could gain only intermittent contact with a wooden shelf. He was moving about, clearly uncomfortable, saliva dripping from his mouth, and it was hot out there (when the sun comes out the heat literally radiates off the tar). I asked the seller to give the pangolin water, but did not feel he welcomed my intervention. Charl has proposed we buy the next live pangolin we see, and release it. We will certainly price it, and take it from there... 

For today's route see below photos
For overview route, click on ROUTE tab above…


Leaving Pouma
Leaving Pouma
Leaving Pouma
Leaving Pouma
Leaving Pouma
Leaving Pouma
Pouma to Edéa - cobweb tree
Pouma to Edéa - cobweb tree
Pouma to Edéa - chickens taking shelter
Pouma to Edéa - chickens taking shelter
Edéa
Edéa
Edéa
Edéa
Edéa
Edéa
Edéa
Edéa
Edéa
Edéa
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