Finally, on to Cameroon
Trip Start Jan 15, 2010
29Trip End Feb 17, 2010
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Where I stayed
I kept working on publications, and also sent out a news update to our French members on the e-mail mailing list. A little before 6:00 I checked out and caught the hotel shuttle to the airport, where I waited in the same lines and went through the same procedures that I had two days earlier.
We got the boarding gate runaround again, going from one end of the terminal to the other over conflicting information, and finally began boarding about 15 minutes after the flight was supposed to have left. The plane was an MD80 a good safe plane, but the seats were set very close together, so it was cramped. There was no ventilation to speak of, the engines weren’t running to save kerosene, so there air conditioning didn’t work. It got extremely hot and stuffy. Our clothes started showing growing stains of perspiration and we fanned ourselves and hoped we would take off soon. We ended up taking off about an hour late.
We flew to Cotonou, Benin where we landed to let passengers exit and enter. Few got on than got off so we could spread out and have a bit more room.
We finally landed in Douala after 1:00 am. We deplaned down a stairway onto the tarmac, walked to the terminal and then went up a staircase for the long walk through the terminal to the arrival area. There we each had to show our vaccination card for Yellow Fever and the immigration officers checked out visas and stamped up into the country. The baggage claim area built to be air conditioned was extremely hot and muggy. The air conditioning broke down before I ever started coming here nearly 15 years ago, and has never worked since. It had to be over 100 degrees F in the hall. Again we stood still, waiting, and soaked through our clothes.
Before leaving with the baggage claim area, customs agents made each passenger open his suitcase, so they could rifle through it looking for contraband or anything close that might require a "fine." The just looked at my open bag and waived me through, I think they were tired. To prove I’d had the check, they initialed my suitcase with a piece of white chalk.
It was nearly 2:00 am by the time we left the terminal. M. Mabout and M. Andang were there to meet me with a car. We took a route to the hotel that stayed on lit streets. There are shorter ways, but darker and this late at night that’s not advisable in Douala. Arriving at the hotel around 2:30, I thanked the men for coming and we arranged to meet again then next day for a meeting with the local church council. We had planned to go up to Yaounde and visit members there, but with such a late night, and a minimum of 8 hours on the road round-trip and the need to be back before dark, that would no longer be possible.
I called my wife briefly to let her know I made it in safely was finally ready for bed at 3:00 am.