So, I’ve got a 3-month extension on my visa here in Cameroon.  In order to be blessed with this visa I have to stay another 2 days in Yaoundé.  I won’t lie – it’s nice to be in Yaoundé but it’s equally sorrowful to be traveling alone again.   I got some bad news from home last night and so I’ve spent today indulging myself.


I woke up late and went for a walk.  Between the men yelling at me the entire way and some following me for most of the way I felt accosted and abused.  I started asking cops for directions.  I should mention at this junction that I am a sucker for a good walk.  I’ll walk anywhere, any weather, and any time.  It clears my head and makes me feel good.  I don’t often know where I’m going and I never carry a map.  This morning I was on my way to the Hilton to indulge in their pool and perhaps a mani/pedi.  I started asking cops for directions.  They would always say I needed to take a cab and I would always reply – “I prefer to walk.”   Ahhhh, they would reply with a look that said, “why do white people like to walk so much?”


Why do white people like to walk so much?  For me, it will always be the surprises.  Today was no exception.   Emerging from the construction site I was directed to by the last police officer I spoke to, I saw a crowd of people gathered and a military officer carrying an automatic weapon right in the middle of my path.   Soldiers make me nervous.  They are men who have been trained and instructed to kill.  In war they are often men who will take what they want and think about the consequences after.  In Iraq they may be extremists in disguise.  I don’t like soldiers because they carry guns and often take what they want.  I don’t mean to disparage the many American, Iraqi, South African, and British soldiers I know – my brother serves in the US Navy – but to say that most of the encounters I have had with the military in foreign countries have not been positive. 


So, when I saw this crowd I got nervous:  why were they being held?  Would I be held as well?  What can I do to talk my way out of here?  Turns out, I had no need to worry.  It was the Presidential motorcade – a site that, living in DC, I am well acquainted with.  Biya was passing by for whatever reason and we were all given flags to salute him with and encouraged to be enthusiastic.  I can’t lie.  I think Biya is as close to a dictator as Cameroon would accept.  Not that he is slaughtering people daily – but that he is basically President for Life and that’s generally not a good thing.  Despite, or because of this, a number of the people on the side of the road were wearing panyas with his face on them and the supporters were VERY enthusiastic. 


Biya passed with all the pomp and circumstances afforded a head of state – honestly more than the US President, which made me think today, was his inauguration.  I ducked every time a camera or shooter went by – not wanting to be shot in either scenario.  I told you, soldiers scare me.  I can’t lie.  It was exciting to see Biya in the same way it’s exciting to see Obama – it’s an annoyance for sure, but how many people get to say that they’ve seen Presidential motorcades in multiple countries…not many. 


I waved my Cameroonian flag and craned my neck to see the President.  I left without ceremony after he passed and such is my life in Cameroon: all these memories and only a blog to share it with. ;)


I spent the rest of my day by the pool at the Hilton.  I treated myself to a lunch that cost more than my hotel does per night.  I got a manicure and a pedicure and purchased a sarong for triple the price I would have paid in Buea.  I did all this to make myself feel better for the crap happening at home and I’m happy I id it.  I’m sitting in the Hilton sipping wine and blogging away in my 50-dollar sarong I look out of place and I don’t care.  This may be my last lonely trip to Yaoundé and I’m going to milk it for all it’s worth.  I’ve chosen a life of hotel bars and over zealous locals – I love it and I hate it.  But, here I am and I’m going to enjoy it for all it’s worth.


Walking is the more difficult way to take your journey, especially if you take a circuitous route.  “But, I, I took the road less traveled by and that has made all the difference.”