The Beer Hunt continues...in Douala, Cameroon
Wherever you go, whatever you do, sampling the local beer is definite must.
What do the locals drink, what beer is most popular, which beer is hardest to find, does it come in a half pint glass just like grandma used to drink…or better still, a full pint glass like I drink??? These are all good questions that need to be answered...
Like most former colonies, the beers from the "motherland" tend to outlast their colonialists...and Cameroon is no different as the beer to drink here hales from France. While in Douala the beer of choice is "33," which is brewed locally by S.A. des Brasseries du Cameroun.
I also sampled Tuborg which is a Danish Beer and brewed by the same S.A. des Brasseries du Cameroun brewery; however, I found the Tuborg to be somewhat less satisfying than the “33”….
And, as usual, Guinness is available if all else fails. Naturally, the black gold is brewed locally by their very own GUINNESS Cameroun S.A. brewery.
It's freakin' hot in Douala...
It's bloody hot and humid in Douala...duh...it's practically on the equator...but if the mosquitos are out definitely wear pants and long sleeve shirts. Remember, one bite and you're dead... Did I mention one bite and you're dead...although I am being sarcastic about those malaria spreading b@stards, do bring some heavy duty deet with you and don't bother with malaria medicine, it only hides the effects if you do get it and may trick you into thinking you don't have malaria, thus, putting off that all important visit to Doctor Happi for the real malaria medicine...
Capital full of surprises.
There are several outstanding things I remember about Douala, the Colonial style buildings, left over from British rule, some in various states of disrepair, some looking glorious.
The market vendors walking around with a sample of what they were selling on their heads, kind of like a mobile market if you will, friendly people indeed.
But for me possibly the most outstanding thing was the international community that lived there if you just dug a little deeper. Italians, Lebanese, French, Brits, I had the best meal of my life in a Lebanese restaurant there, amazing food, great conversation and really really interesting people that had come together in Douala for work or too live, or some who came to work but stayed to live........
I've spent two years in Cameroon, and if I were a tourist, I'd go somewhere else. Thats not to say there aren't good places to visit in the country; its just that Cameroonians put every possible obstacle in your way to get there. From the moment you step off the plane, you are the target for a thousand scams. The authorities will abuse you, the climate will melt you and poverty will astound you.
Douala is the worst place to visit. Because most people have come here from up-country to make a buck, thats exactly what they're up for. Unfortunately, the opportunities are few and far between. Get out of Douala as soon as you can and visit tranquil Limbe, sun yourself on the beaches of Kribi, knacker yourself on the slopes of Mt Cameroon. Get up north and enjoy the savannah lands and see the odd elephant. Go rain forest trekking in Korup Nat Park. SAVE YOURSELVES!!
OK, so Douala isn't THAT bad, but you should know where to go. The busy African commercial center of Akwa has some good nightlife and various markets (Mache de Congo - textiles, Marche Centrale - everything else, including, it is rumoured, guns and human flesh).
Bonaprisso is the posh expat neighbourhood, full of poncy French restaurants and clothes shops. The Marche des Fleurs has good crafts and (surprise) flowers. Bonaprosso is also home to the Okinawa restaurant. Eating sushi in West Africa is decadence taken to logical extremes. It is run by a South Korean couple, and is the finest sushi I have ever tasted.
Bonaberi is the the other side of the Wouri river, and is the anglophone heartland. The call it "back home" because if the bridge collapses (high probability due to 55 years of no maintenance) they can walk back to their North West and South West provinces.
Overall, Douala is a thriving, surging, pounding West African hell-hole of a city. Takes a wee bit of time to appreciate it.
Mt. Cameroon lava flow
With an elevation of 13,428 ft (4095 m), Mt. Cameroon is widely known as Central and West Africa’s highest peak. Mt. Cameroon, known locally as Mount Faka, is also considered to be an active volcano. Despite this, it is one of Cameroon's main tourist attractions and there is even a marathon style race up its rocky slopes each year.
Getting back to the volcano stuff, Mt. Cameroon is one of Africa’s most active volcanoes and has blown lava six times this century. During the 5th century BC, a Carthaginian ship captain observed an eruption while sailing down the coast of Africa, thus making Mt. Cameroon one of the earliest recorded volcanic eruptions.
A recent eruption in March 1999 produced a lava flow that nearly reached the Atlantic Ocean after crawling some 14 kilometers. This lava flow, some 10 to 12 meters high, came to a stop directly on top of the coastal road connecting Northern and Southern Cameroon. Had the flow continued on to the sea, traffic would have been seriously disrupted. Luckily for the Cameroonians, the flow didn’t reach the ocean and short detour around the end of the lava flow was possible.
Naturally, such an event has become an entrepreneur's wet dream. Locals in the surrounding area hangout near the point where the lava flow blocks the road selling photos of eruptions and offering ?guided? tours to the top of the flow some 10 to 12 meters off the ground. To avoid the cons, simply drive around the end of the flow and hike up the other side?the view from the top of the flow is amazing!