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There is a kind of magicness about going far away and then coming back all changed. - Kate Douglas Wiggin

8 September 2019, Edéa to Douala, 64.02km
Jet Hotel 20,000CFA (R500)

 
It was a wet ride into Cameroon’s largest city, Douala. In some ways, it was the easiest city ride we have had in six months. We had simply to follow the N3 from Edéa to the Nelson Mandela carrefour (intersection) in Douala, and there travel three quarters of the way around the circle and another 50 metres or so to the Jet Hotel.
In others, it was tough, mainly because it rained for many kms into the city and around 20km through it. Aside from the usual busy-ness, potholes and low-lying areas were flooded, our anxiety heightened by the increased hazards of wet-weather cycling.
We arrived at the Jet, one of several accommodation options not far from the airport, dripping wet, fingers wrinkled from long exposure to water. Despite its cost (actual price 28,000CFA which we negotiated down to 20,000CFA), we really were not prepared to hunt further for a cheaper bed and booked in for two nights.
Charl had a fall today, nothing major, but, really, he is getting too old at nearly 70 to be taking a tumble. We were approaching a peage (toll). Do not imagine the kind of toll you might be accustomed to at home where the road widens and green lights and painted arrows direct you to one of several booths containing an official who swipes your credit card and raises a boom. Here, a small sign on a tripod warns of a peage up ahead. Cement bollards divide the already narrow road, and here dozens of hawkers mingle, hoping to make a sale to drivers slowed by officials taking their cash through their open windows. Charl got distracted and his wheel slipped out from under him as he slid off the edge of a small speed bump, and over he fell. No damage, really, to body or bike, but still…
I saw three African Greys in flight today, their silhouettes etched against the sky, their beaks distinctive. And then we saw a captured Grey, on sale, tied by his feet and hanging upside down. We decided to price him, thinking perhaps we might set him free, but at 30,000CFA, more than our daily budget, that was a fantasy we could not make real. And we saw an enormous tree trunk on the back of a logging truck, so big only one trunk could fit when normally several are transported. On top of the trunk were green bananas. And a trucker flashed his lights at us, giving us from his open window a large grin and a thumbs up. And at a garage stop, where we sat out some of the storm, the young woman serving behind the counter was slow and sullen, a foot shuffler. And the hooks and eyes on my sports bra are rusting from being damp all the time!
It is extraordinarily difficult to get change in Central African Francs, which we have used through Congo, Gabon and Cameroon. The biggest note is 10,000CFA (R250), dispensed usually in mint condition by ATMs. If you offer anyone other than a hotelier or large supermarket chain a 10,000CFA note, you will engender dismay. Obtaining change for even 5,000 or 2,000 can be impossible. You may be offered bonbons in lieu of change. Clearly there is a disconnect between the number of large notes and small printed by government.

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


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