Don’t believe what people tell you, wait till you see everything yourself.
Even though my experience has proven that no matter what people tell you, the reality is usually different, I still always look for at least some information about the countries I’m going to. With Cameroon it was no different. Lonely planet forum, Wikitravel, friends… Unfriendly people, uninteresting, average big cities, average food…. Add the conflict in the anglophone regions which are basically on a brink of a civil war and you end up with zero or very low expectations.
Once again, the truth, in Africa even 200% more valid: Everyone has two eyes, but no one has the same view. And so, contrary to everything I’ve heard, Cameroon was absolutely great!
Douala, oh Douala. There are not many African big cities that I liked, except maybe for Ouagadougou. But I fell for Douala after having my first beignet (donuts). You can feel the French influence the minute you walk out from the hotel. Coffee, baguettes, pastries, western style boulangeries and patisseries mix up with the street sellers offering donuts and bread and street-style cafés where people are served Nescafé or tea, similar to those in Burkina. The expats’ favourite quartier Bonapriso is a residential, laid back neighbourhood with many western restaurants (chinese, italian, brazilian etc.), but you can easily find the african restaurants as well, which was quite different to the other upscale neighborhoods in african big cities like Dakar or Cotonou, where you find the western and overpriced food only. French supermarkets like Casino or Super U including shops like Aldo or Guess (!) are also to be found in the city, swiftly changed by the classic african market and chaos. Simply put, a great, well balanced mixture of the comfort you need after 72 hours on a cargo boat and the classic african madness. Recommended.
Contrary to Nigeria, where people are EXTREMELY friendly, constantly whispering and shouting at you, always wanting to take pictures with you (which is nice, but after a couple of days you get a bit tired from it, sorry about my honesty), Cameroonians are very laid back, they don’t give a damn. However once you approach them, they are very friendly and nice. Except for the notorious police officers, they are not really after your money, they are just…fine. They drink a lot, so usually when you need something, buy a shot of some schnaps or a beer and you’ll be fine.
I thought that when I tried the Cameroonian beignets, I found heaven in Africa, but that was before I tasted their typical meal, ndolé. This sauce is made from peanut paste, fish stock, shredded shrimps and tons of ndolé leaves which are similar to spinach. One of the best african dishes I’ve ever tasted! Add the delicious pineapples and mangos and you have a filled and happy stomach, which means also happy Tereza. 🙂
Well, that’s for another post. I’ll only tell you this now: where else you can hunt and eat porcupines, take 10 hours to overcome 100 kilometres, eat the best crab in your life and…wait for it…hunt the biggest frog in the world in the rainforest in total middle of nowhere?