Yaoundé by bus. The station of Touristique Express SA at Douala is a well organised affair. When I arrived there at 7:45am that morning I found that the staff were at their duty posts and, were, well, very dutiful. My sights were on Yaoundé and the trip was set for 3.5-4 hours.
Bought the ticket. Checked in my bag. Passed the security screening. About to step on the bus, a demand for my international passport. For a moment, I wondered why she thought I wasn’t a Cameroonian. After all my village isn’t too far off Bakassi which Nigeria gifted Cameroon. Actually, I thought I looked more Cameroonian than the Cameroonians! Anyway. I present my national identity card. No way. Presented my driver’s license. No way. Rummaged through my bag and pulled out my passport. Okay. Happy now? No response.
I was dead worried I would be crammed up in the bus, but on getting on board I found the first-row seat empty and quite spacious. Plus, the bus had less than 50% occupancy. I wondered if a bus company in Nigeria would have left the station without waiting to fill up every empty seat.
8:00am prompt we inched out of the station. Their buses leave every hour so there was no fear of not getting one, if you weren’t time bound.
Announcements made in French and then in English. Key points for me were: that the toilet on the bus was strictly for urinary purposes. For any other need passengers were urged not to hesitate to contact the hostess. Fasten seat belts. All phones were to be set in vibration mode and conversations were to be in low tones. As this was announced someone at the rear of the bus was having a vibrant conversation on his phone. The bus would not stop for anyone to purchase anything on the way, we were warned. And there were pineapples, cocoyam, potatoes, black pears, mangoes at every village/town we passed. Some bush meat – dried and fresh ones too. Then I saw an animal of the cat family – perhaps an endangered species. And, later on, a guy hawking a live porcupine! 🤔🤔
The trip would take a whole of four hours. Seems we are heading for an adventure. 30 minutes into the trip tea and snacks were served. Yummy. 👅
40 minutes into the trip, the driver kept to a speed of between 60 and 80 km/hour mostly because of heavy trucks on the single lane road. Occasionally he shot up to 110km/hour – when he overtook the trucks. He kept going at a speed hovering around 100km/hour. However, he overtook over solid lines (at curvy spots) at least 4 times during the trip. 😱😱
Lush vegetation most of the way. As expected.
Not too many potholes. In most places where there were potholes they were encircled with white paint and marked “ok.” Like saying: potholes are okay! 🚶
At about 25km to Yaoundé we suddenly came to a traffic hold up that literally stopped movements in both directions. At one spot for over 60 minutes. The hostess announced that there was an accident ahead. When we eventually moved, we saw that it was quite a gruesome accident involving a car and 2 trucks. Near Mbakomo.
A few moments later we are in the outskirts of Yaoundé. A journey of 4 hours was accomplished in 5. Instead of chaffing I used the time to complete my reading of The Book of Joy by Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu with Douglas Abram. Then I used the remains of the time to edit HOMEF’s FishNet Dialogue guidebook. Redeeming the time!
Looking back as we pulled into the station at Yaoundé I could say that it was a comfortable trip. All five hours of it. 😇🙏