Wednesday, February 1, 2012

North Trip Beginning!

Ahhh!! We're back in home-sweet-Buea!  The past two weeks have been filled with the preparations, and then a crazy amazing trip all the way through the country of Cameroon to it's 'Extreme North' region.  The first leg of the journey was a roughly 6 hour bus ride to the Capital City of Cameroon, Yaounde.  Bus rides, or public transportation means sitting 5 wide in a van that is packed inside and out, sometimes we'd have to alternate shoulders and hips to fit in!  This map of Cameroon shows our trip, the orange is bus rides, and the red is the train leg of the voyage! 
A man we were riding with on the bus works as a translator, so helped us get to the train station in Yaounde, Buea is an English speaking region in Cameroon, but once we got to Yaounde, after our first bus ride, it was into the world of French full force.  We reserved our tickets for the next night (only one train per day), got there and on the train with no problems, and everything went extremely smoothly. 

The train leg (like I said it's the part in red on the map) we converted from km to roughly 385 miles.  We rolled out of Yaounde at about 6:15pm and arrived in Ngaoundre about 16 hours later.  
There was all kinds of food options along the way, the train made many stops at little towns en-route and at each stop, no matter what time of the night it was, tons of people were there waiting to sell us things in the windows.  Kids of all ages, one little guy we bought bananas from couldn't reach high enough to hand them in our window and another kid had to help him.  Also lots of ladies, trying to make a living, out by the train at 2am selling things from huge trays on their heads and tiny babies tied to their backs.  We love almost everything we try, even though we don't always know what it is... this little banana leaf bundle however was an exception.... there was something 'fishy' about it...
We had some of our own snacks along too.... midnight snack of bread and chocolate! Mmmm :)


When we woke up on the train early the next morning, almost to Ngaundre, Sarah realized her small bag/purse was gone, we were still in shock and trying to figure out what to do when I realized that my little pouch with my ID copy and other important things had been taken out of my backpack.  Just a few minutes later Mary realized her camera was missing as well.  We were stunned.  Our 4 seats were facing each other and our bags had all been between us... but we think somebody got into them from under our seats while we were sleeping.  With no ID Sarah and I wouldn't be able to get a ticket back to Buea, or a bus ticket farther north, we prayed, and got in contact with some English speaking help in Ngaoundre.
Our new friend in Ngaundre was another angel on our trip, she helped us get re-grouped and on our way north once again.  I spent the next week and a half with not a stitch of proof that I am Tabitha Joy Schumacher, a very strange feeling, but God was with us every step of the way!
  Once again, there was food options at every stop, this is a form of chin chin, and a different kind of northern puff puff.  Yummy, but SO GREASY!  It was pretty much our only food option though for the day.

As our journey went farther and father north it got hotter and dryer, I was trying to think of anywhere else in the world that get's hotter and dryer as you go north and I couldn't think of any.  This is quite a switch from green, tropical Buea where we live!
In the North this is what every home looks like, sometimes you'd see a 'fancier' one that was square or had a metal door, but mud huts, homes made from mud was all you saw.
This is just a little example of the "concession stands" every time the bus slowed down enough for them to keep up.  Sometimes they'd have a big stick laying across the road just to make the bus driver stop so they could try to sell things to the passengers.
This is the sunset out the back window of our bus still heading north... it was another 11 hour bus ride after the 16 hour train, I didn't get off the crowded bus once in those 11 hours; it's given me a whole new perspective on driving to Lincoln!  The road is narrow and bumpy, for 11 hours we averaged 40-50 km/h which is roughly 25-30 miles per hour as we dogged pot holes and random animals.  On the good parts of the road I saw the speedometer reach 90 km/hour which is still under 55 miles per hour.  It got dark and we were still headed north, exciting and scary, we had no idea what was ahead of us, but Mary and I just liked to think that at least heading north meant we were somehow getting a little "closer to home!"

~To be continued~

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