Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Southern Cameroon

At this point I'm pretty sure I was enjoying the north more than the south/west though my body wasn't. The south is a lot more developed and comfortable (in a relative sense) but there isn't as much I wanted to see down here. Yaounde turned out to be a disappointment as my host was closer to crazy than normal. My lungs started to get better almost immediately so that was good.
As I said before my goal was to get into Equatorial Guinea next so I took a bus 2 ½ hrs from Yaounde to Ebolowa, waited 2 hrs, caught the next bus 2 ½ hrs down to the border town of Kye Ossi. It's a tri border crossing as Gabon's border is also there. Got stamped out of Cameroon. Walked over to the Eq. Guinea side of the barriers and was hauled into the immigration post and told after a few minutes of waiting that I would not be allowed to cross.
I asked why not as this was only partially unexpected. Equatorial Guinea is notorious for not letting people in and being restrictive. It would probably be the least touristed country I'd ever visit if I could get in. It's a messed up thing but on paper Eq. Guinea looks like an African success story. It is small, stable and has a high income per capita (for Africa) because it's economy is based on oil. What you don't know about the place is that nobody can get in, nobody is allowed to do anything and the government is ridiculously corrupt and isolationist. Maybe it has something to do with them being the only Spanish-speaking country in Africa and so no colonial ties to anyone else...
It's very hard to get any travel information about the place and I don't think I've ever heard or read a good thing said about the country either. I was hoping to get across because Americans are the only nationality that can get in without a visa (because they are the ones helping extract the oil). It is also co-hosting the Africa Cup soccer championships at the moment with Gabon, so the thought was that could either work for me of against me too. Maybe they'd be a little more lax on letting people in so they could have spectators or maybe they would only want people that had actually booked tickets for the games somehow.
Anyway, I was told that the road (ie land border crossing) was closed to all foreigners and I'd have to fly if I wanted in. That's retarded and something I hadn't heard of before. Maybe that was how they wanted to eliminate casual tourism resulting from the Africa Cup? I know that to go anywhere in the country you need expensive travel permits (which I wouldn't have on my way to the main city) and you also need a camera permit to still not be allowed to photograph anything. I made a small fuss about maybe just being allowed to cross for the day to the border town, but they got unfriendly quickly and just started pointing back to Cameroon. So I failed. The Cameroon customs was nice enough and called the others crazy. The lady at immigration chewed me out for a bit though. Apparently stamping me twice was a terrible inconvenience.
Had to wait for a bit before getting the next bus 2 ½ hrs back to Ebolowa to stay for the night. Net result was a very long day to end up in the wrong place and no new country to show for it. The next morning I continued back to Yaounde and transferred to another bus to go to Kribi. Kribi is on the southwest coast and is arguably the nicest beach town in the country. It is certainly built up for some tourism as there are quite a few small hotels scattered about. The beach is not wide at all but goes all along the coast as far as I can tell. I arrived too late to visit the beach or do any more than just get oriented. The next morning I woke up to rain. The first time I've had rain since this trip started. Typical. It didn't last long but the sky was threatening all day. That morning the power went out in town too (and was out for the next 36 hours, once again thwarting my attempts at getting on the internet)
I went to Lobe Waterfall a few km outside of town. Its claim to fame is that it is one of the only waterfalls in the world that falls directly into the ocean. It's not very high and more of a little river cascading over some rocks directly into the sea. I can't imagine that it isn't more common around the world. It is dry season so maybe when there is a lot more water it is more convincing as a true and powerful waterfall. I still like waterfalls though.

Lobe Waterfall at the dry season.

Looking down the waterfall into the sea.

I talked to some people in Kribi and learned that yes, the border with Eq. Guinea is currently closed (there is another crossing near here at Campo) because of the Africa Cup as they didn't want hordes of people coming across. I get the impression that even the Cameroonians don't like Eq. Guinea and are also not treated well over there. So I didn't bother to try crossing at Campo.
My best friend in Kribi quickly became one of the coconut sellers out on the road. He was from the northwest so spoke English and as there are no avocados in Kribi I had to switch to coconuts to eat. I'd hang around and joke with him and eat coconut when I wasn't sitting down at the beach.

Lorenzo the coconut guy in Kribi.

My second full day in Kribi had better weather for sitting at the beach and watching the fishermen at work. They pull the nets in here the same as they do everywhere else in the world I've seen fishermen on the beach. These guys pulled in mostly leaves and mud though and a depressing number of fish.

Kribi beach.

Fishing like everywhere else.

As at Rhumsiki, there is a slight amount of harassment in Kribi from touts and souvenir sellers but it's only really noticeable because there is absolutely none everywhere else I've been. I've seen a few white tourists in Kribi but even then it's only a tiny number and most actually look like residents with local friends or partners.


At 9:54 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

HEy Ammon,
Missed for a few days and man you've been busy, so it's back to daily checks for you. G\reat posts, although pissing off guards who don't want you around sounded a bit sketchy, but all in the experience neh?

Bear Hugs, onto the next post.
THe Bear


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