The title of the blog post, Bumpy Dusty Roads, Mystical Twin Lakes, HOT DRY SUN, and Fulfulde, pretty much sums up everything I have been doing since my last days of teaching.



The first leg of my journey started in Douala. Douala is known to have the best night light in the entire country. Here you will find not only bars on every corner but also a slew of night clubs that are open until dawn and tons of cabarets that play some of the best music ever. Since we were going to Bangem and had to change vehicles in Douala anyways, we just decided to go a night early and enjoy the city. My friend Laglan and I went to meet some friends who live in Douala. After eating some amazing grilled fish, we went out for a night on the town to listent to the ever so popular Makossa music.


Makossa music is 100% Cameroonian and 100% amazing! It is the most popularly played musica at cabarets and dare I say night clubs as well. Makossa actually means dance in the Duala (ethnic group in the Center Region) language and originated from the Duala traditional dance called the kossa. It uses strong electric funky bass rhythm, horn sections, and vocalists to create a unified sound which urges the dancers to move in rhythmic motion. This rhythmic motion is NOT east – trust me, I’ve been studying it and watching Cameroonians dance for 10months and I am still not capable of doing it properly. It takes real skill. Some modern day popular Makossa musicians include Hendri Dikonge, Petit-Pays, Lady Ponce and many others.


We were on a bus by dawn to head towards Melong which is also the same town that busses stop in when driving to and from Buea to Bamenda. From Melong we headed towards the Bangem bus park where we found a ‘bush taxi’ that would take us to Bangem. The road was more like a dried up four-wheeler trail that had been washed out by heavy rains and never repaired. It took nearly two hours but we only had one break down.

Welcome to Bangem

Dust prevention: Everyone told me I needed to wear a plastic bag
over my head to prevent 'dust from entering and spoiling my hair'.

Bush Truck loading up to go to the village

Bangem is one of the two Bakossi ‘villages’ the other being Tombel both located in the Kupe Muanengouba. I say ‘village’ because they are actually the two major towns that are surrounded by hundreds of Bakossi villages but the two main towns are often referred to as villages. For example, if one person asks a Bakossi person where they are from, the person will respond with either Tombel or Bangem. If the person is familiar with the area they will ask for a more specific village such as Nyasoso which apparently the crater of all Bakossi civilization. Once we finally arrived in this dusty village, our friend met us at the main corner and took us to his place. Laglan is Bakossi and has lived in Bangem before so we had several friends to see and places to stay.

The main purpose of coming to Bangem was to visit the infamous Twin Lakes! These two stunning lakes are said to be closely linked with Bakossi heritage and their ancestors. This is not an easy task. I thought the road to Bangem was bad…the road to the lakes was 10x worse plus seriously steep sections. We could only access the lakes by moto bike – but only the best of the best riders in town were skilled enough to take passengers up that road. It was a good things we had friends who lived in the town because they were able to show us which guys were the best drivers in town.  There is one female lake and one male lake. The female lake is the larger of the two. There is a nice path down to the base of the lake where you are permitted to swim, fish and walk around. This lake is relatively harmless and has a beautiful blue color.

The Female Lake

The Male Lake

The male lake on the other hand is feared by all who knows its power. This is the lake where I was told if you throw a stone into it, it will throw it back out. As you can see in the picture there are trees all around but a leaf will never drop into the water. From where we were sitting, we could hear some sort of small waterfall or stream entering the lake yet there was no evidence of any moving water. There is no path down to the lake, it is only observed from a distance. Some say that there are nothing is capable of living in this lake and those who touch its waters will be cursed. Notice the color difference below.

Ho Ho Ho! Off to Kumba We Go!

On Christmas Eve we planned on heading back into Melong to take a bus to Douala, then to Buea and then up to Kumba for a couple of days. Unfortunately, there was no car leaving Bangem that day because there were not enough passengers, therefore we had to take a moto bike. The only good part about this was the ride was shortened to about 45min instead of 2 hours but I will say I feared for my life a number of times. After we switched cars in Melong, and then again in Douala I was finally home in Buea. But only for a couple of hours. I baked two cakes and grabbed a bottle of wine to bring to the family house in Kumba.

Note: It is tradition and good manners here to always bring gifts when you are visiting friends of family. The size of the gift is not too much of concern but it is expected. Also, if you are living with a family and you travel somewhere, even if it is not far, you are expected to bring something back for the family – even if it is just bread from the bakery. They will always ask, “What did you keep for me?”

Achu and Njamajama: The traditional dish of the Bamenda people. Achu is the yellow soup which is put inside of an eatable bowl. You use your fingers to go 'around the world' scooping up a bit of the bowl before dipping it in the yellow soup and then grabbing a bit of njamajama (the green leafy vegetable). It takes some serious skills to eat this food - but I have mastered it. People tell me, you bi bamenda pikin (I am a child of Bamenda.

Christmas in Cameroon: Ok so here it is…everyone has been asking me all sorts of questions about Christmas in Cameroon. “Are there Christmas trees? Do they sing and play Christmas music? Is there snow? Do they know what Christmas is? Etc!” Surprisingly there are Christmas trees, they just aren’t real. People put up small decorations in and around their house but not nearly to the extent of that in the Western world. I think we can all agree that it is a unnecessary and almost as if people are competitive with their decorations. The radio plays Christmas music and everyone goes to church Christmas morning. Same like in the US and I am assuming other parts of the world, Christmas is a time where family and friends come together to celebrate first and foremost the birth of Jesus Christ. The major difference I saw was that there was no physical gift exchange. But we did exchange love, laughter and food!! Although there was something missing, a bit of an empty feeling, when I woke up and we didn’t sit around opening gifts,  I will say it was a bit of a relief to see that Cameroonian Christmas is not commercialized! …Yet. One thing I did really like was the way that everyone in the neighborhood shared their food. People cook a lot of food and everyone brings everyone a plate of it, sometimes even a beer to go with it! Here in Cameroon, sharing food and drink demonstrates hospitality and trust. It’s a beautiful thing. This country and its people (and quite possible all of Sub Saharan Africa) survive on generosity. That is a fact.


This crater lake is easily accessable from Kumba - only about a 5-8min moto bike ride to the entrance. You then have to walk for about 30-40min to get to the lake but it is not a strenuous walk at all. Along the way, we passed several villagers carrying fire wood on their head and other heading into town for work in their nice suits. The entrance fee is 2,000cfa but luckily, Laglan is from Kumba and happen to know those who were taking the entrance fee so we got in for less! The walk to the lake is filled with lush and thick rainforest. Once you arrive at the lake, you can see massive ancient tropical trees surrounding the lake along with other plants. Barombi Mbo is most famous for its unique fauna and is one of the most studied lakes in Cameroon. There are 15 fish species and the lake measures 2.5 kilometers across and over 100 meters deep!

Laglan was telling me about a game that the local boys play called "first to the net": The fist boy who swims to the fish nets (which are in the middle of the lake), catches a fish with his hands, puts it in his mouth, and swims back to shore with it wins! This lake is considered sacred and it is the subject of many stories about people disappearing at the hands of some sort of mystical creature which drags them down. 

While I was in Kumba I was lucky enough to be able to attend my ‘sisters’ wedding. When I went to her cousin’s wedding back in April, she had told me that her fiancé was in South Africa and they would wed in December, God willing. Well, God was willing because the fiancé made it back to Cameroon for the first time in five years to wed his beautiful wife! I was really happy I could be there to share the special moment with both of them.


Here, there are not one, not two but three weddings for each couple. First you have the traditional wedding which is held at the wife-to-be’s family house. Here there is a lot of traditional/ceremonial activities such as libation, bride price, dancing, and eating. Then there is the court wedding where they go to court and are legally wed on papers by the Mayor and lastly there is the ‘white wedding’ AKA the church wedding. After all of these, there is usually some sort of animal slaughtered by the wife’s side of the family and given to all of the male members.