I decided to take a couple weeks holiday in August to head to the North and Far North Regions of Cameroon.
They are mainly desert, unbearably hot and Muslim-dominated French regions. Actually, it seems I went at the best time because it was the perfect temperature every day. The only problem is that it was rainy season and everything was beautifully-green, which means I’ll somehow have to return during dry season so I can say I’ve been to the desert in sub-Saharan Africa!
My first impressions:
- The French in the North to seem much more friendly and welcoming than those in the south
- There was a lot more food than I anticipated, after hearing many a story about surviving on mangos for months on end
- Couscous is better than fufu
- Crab’s don’t make very good fortune-tellers
- I am completely incapable of sitting still long enough for henna to dry
- Rhumsiki makes for the best honeymoon in the Far North
- Northern bus drivers can change a tire faster than I can pee
In summary, here are the highlights from my trip:
Yaounde (Central Region): Went to an amazing traditional drumming session at a local hot spot in the South East end of Yaounde; the dancing was even more impressive than the drumming (and the dancers were simply audience members who couldn`t sit still!) I really should step-up my djembe lessons...
Garoua (North Region): Spent an entire evening getting henna-ed up whilst the entire youth population of the neighbourhood piled into the living room, eventually getting bored by us and ending up glued to the TV watching Ethiopian and Indian music videos all night – and they somehow knew all the words! It`s too bad we missed Ramadan by a few days.
|45-mins of sitting still for Henna application - torture!|
|The French Association in Garoua|
|Trekking in Garoua|
Moutourwa (Far North Region): Spent some gorgeous days trekking rocky mountains that jut from the ground like they were thrown down by the gods…followed by a proper local night of dancing to celebrate a football win at a village bar.
|Trekking in the village|
|A sacred natural "monument"|
|Villagers in Moutourwa|
|Cleaning goat "mess"|
Rhumsiki (Far North Region): What`s not to love?! We spent the weekend trekking through the most beautiful landscape you`ve ever seen, visiting crab sorcerers, touring the village, eating the best organic chop in Cameroon at KIRDI Restaurant, horse-back riding at sunset…and I also learnt a lot about Animism – it’s one of the world`s oldest religious beliefs in which spirits exist in animals, rocks, mountains and rivers. People worship an animal of their choice, which represents their spiritual ruler (usually a goat or sheep, bird or rat). The chosen animal is sometimes seen to be the spirit of dead family members, and lives in the house with the family, not on the farm with the other animals. It actually seems closely-related to Native American beliefs.
|Organic breakfast at KIRDI|
Maroua (Far North Region): Shopping at Maroua market! I bought pretty much everything in the market, and managed to spend two full days bargaining in French…I either drastically improved my French skills or spent way too much money – or both! Oh and the pizza at Porte Mayo is amazing!
|Our wake-up call each morning|