The Porcupine Incident

On the 7th of July we headed out to Etoko, a small village outside Mamfe, much poorer than Buea or Mamfe.

We spent a lot of the time just walking around the village with a big group of little children to lead us:

Bran (Welsh volunteer) with a playful kid:

Javi (Spanish volunteer) shows a child a new way to look at the world:

Dried porcupine, local delicacy (we ate some in Etoko, but a few people got food poisoning and the next day I got sick, and this dried one smelled up our bus, so none of us could face the concept of porcupine after that)

Eventually we had to head back to Mamfe to watch two football matches between the village teams as part of United Action for Children’s Community Sports for Development Program in cooperation with FIFA. We picked up one of the teams on our way:

Some of us had to quickly stop by the hotel to get ready for the match:

Brendan clearly enjoyed having the porcupine ‘vest’ during the ride:

The matches themselves were pretty good! First the women’s teams played, followed by the men. Some volunteers joined each team, while I took photos from the sidelines. Check out the field they play on, complete with water hazards!

More next time . . .

Mamfe (continued)

After a good night’s rest after our arrival in Mamfe, we set out for a small trip around town, which included a stop at the “German Bridge” and another bridge by the river up which petrol and other goods are smuggled from Nigeria. I bought some Monkey Kola to eat. If you haven’t seen it before, it’s a local delicacy: giant grub grown in special compost heaps made of particular types of plants. Once it has been opened up, you can see the gooey bit and eat it.

Here you see one of the organs (the locals didn’t know which organ though), which looks kind of like a monkey brain to me – maybe that’s where the name comes from?

In the hotel, Room 1 had this interesting sign. I love accidental spelling errors.

This is the German Bridge, built by (you guessed it) the Germans when they colonized Cameroon way back a hundred years ago. The British and French took over the country after WWI and Germany’s defeat but this scary suspension bridge has lasted. It’s just a bunch of boards nailed one to another on top of some metal cables! No railing either!

Advertisements for beer are everywhere in developing countries, and Cameroon is no exception. These ones are a bit old, but nifty!

These are the boats used to smuggle petrol and other goods from Nigeria. Note the empty beer bottles in the middle boat.

We also spent one evening at the only dance club / disco in Mamfe. One wealthy businessman, who was supposedly favoured as the next mayor in the elections that were coming up at that time, was also there and paid for all of our drinks and food at the club!

The house band guitarist was particularly skilled – he could play behind his back!

To be continued . . .

Mamfe road trip

On the 5th of July, we headed northwest from Buea up to Mamfe, a town near the border with Nigeria, for a weekend trip. First, we filled up on gas and felt like the bus would fall over.

Then we got on the road, and of course had to pass a few creatures sharing the asphalt with the cars.

Within a few minutes, we had a flat tire, a very common occurrence. John, our driver, quickly got the tools out as we stretched our legs.

Orock wheeled the new tire over, and John set to work.

We had to cross through a few ‘puddles’ of course.

This sign on the door to the toilet greatly amused us.


Japhet fell asleep on John’s shoulder.

More scenery:

The problems started as night approached, with muddy roads torn up by big trucks making our trip difficult. Over the course of several hours, we got stuck and unstuck many times, had to pull and be pulled out of mud, ruts, ditches, before we finally arrived in Mamfe.

Due to the organisation’s lack of organisation, we had no shovels, no proper tow rope (we had to use two seatbelts), and no boards to make it easier to get unstuck. They got a proper talking-to the next morning from us.

Finally, after 13.5 hours, we arrived in Mamfe, bruised and tired, but happy to get some sleep finally.

The Halfway Mark

The internet in Buea, Cameroon is really something unique. I’m able to check email a couple times a week usually, but many websites are too intense for the snailspeed internet here to access. is one of these, so I have not been able to log into my blog interface to update this site.

Photos are, for now, out of the question. I have been selecting pics that I will put up here when I have a decent connection, so rest assured that many photos (over 160 already chosen, only halfway through my trip) will appear here eventually. These pics may, however, only appear in September when I arrive back in Europe.

As for my adventures, in the last month I’ve continued teaching French classes (which will end this week), I spent a few weeks going to our new school construction site and helping with the building of a new vocational unit for wood workshop and metalwork and that sort of thing, I went with 9 other volunteers to Mamfé, a town north and west from here, near the border with Nigeria (it’s the major petrol smuggling point from Nigeria, you can’t even buy Cameroonian petrol there), and I got malaria.

The malaria wasn’t too bad, as I realized what it was almost immediately and got myself the medical attention I needed. I had the fun Plasmodium falciparum variety which is apparently very uncommon for foreigners here, though the doctor’s explanation for this was not very clear at all.

I’m still enjoying my stay after 42 days and I have another 42 days left, as I fly back to Europe on August 27th.

Feel free to email me at chris [at] if you want to hear more details or whatnot, and don’t be surprised if the reply comes from chris.photodiarist [at], as I have my emails forwarded since I cannot check through my own server’s webmail facilities using this net connection.