Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Say no to hardwood furniture and floors!

During the night, a violent thunderstorm rages until early morning. The rain has washed the dirt off our bikes a little, but we fear what it’s done to the road ahead. There’s still a 100 kms or so to cover before we reach the beginning of tarmac in Foumban. 

However, despite some stretches of mud and deep puddles, we have surprisingly few problems, in contrast to some of the trucks that are stuck along the road. 

Our mood is good, the bananas are tasty and the towns are abundant in color and life beaming from between the car wrecks, overgrown houses and smoking dirt. Foumban itself is lively as well, but doesn’t have the same jungle atmosphere. 

We decide to take the afternoon off to visit the strange palace of the King of Bamoun, an eclectic but stylish home to one of the many remaining traditional chiefs in the region.

From Foumban, we decide to try and ride all the way to the relaxed coastal town of Limbe in one day. Even though we get the inner tube repaired and Isabel’s rear tire properly inflated, visit the “chefferie” at Bandjoun, take a scenic detour over a mountain pass near Bafang, cover 40 kms of wet and rocky track through the banana and rubber plantations and forest near Kumba, all within a marathon ride of over 400kms, … we still succeed. Just after dusk, we arrive at the base of Mt. Cameroon, the 4100m giant volcano rising from sea level near Limbe. 

Next morning, the rain – again – urges us to leave: better not stay at the pool but try to keep ahead (hmm?) of the rainy season. Our first stop on the way to Yaoundé is Douala, the economic center of Cameroon, where we hope to find a new brake disc at the Yamaha store. It turns out they have sold new XT660’s before, but don’t stock spare parts… In the capital they can only recommend us an experienced mechanic, who might have a look at it.

From the outskirts of Douala, we have to cover the rest of the distance in the pouring rain, which leaves us cold to the bone. We try to enjoy the incredibly beautiful rain forest, while our hearts bleed at the sight of the giant logs carried away on trucks, leaving deep scars in the forest. 

For more pics see album "Say no to hardwood furniture and floors!"

The more we progress to Yaoundé, the more farming and villages are weighing in. Though not as big as Douala, Yaoundé spreads far over several green hills. It is truly a metropole and it seems like we are going to find everything we need here, a bit of rest to start with.

Right now, we are waiting for our DRC visa, while giving the equipment a good cleaning and the bikes a well-deserved servicing. We have mounted the Continental TKC80 “mud and snow” tire on my bike and the Michelin T63 mud tire we bought in Ouagadougou on Isabel’s (after 18 000 kms on the Heidenau!!). The brake disc will have to stay as it is, hopefully it won’t affect the wearing of the tire too much. On Wednesday we head for the far South-East of Cameroon, where we will visit the remote national parks near Yokadouma before entering Congo-Brazzaville via the river crossing at Ouesso. In a good two weeks, we might be in Kinshasa. And that is as far as we have been able to plan the trip up to now…

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