Last weekend was the first long weekend of the outreach. Since the crew of the Africa Mercy comes from so many different countries, we can't take each one of our own national holidays off work. We wouldn't get much surgery done if we did that. So, instead we have "ship holidays" and occasionally take a long weekend. Life has been busy since the ship arrived in Cameroon. We were ready for some fresh air and green grass, and to get away from life inside an industrial port for a few days.
Cameroon is sometimes referred to as "Africa in the Miniature", because the landscape and culture are so very diverse in the different regions. Rainy season is just coming to an end, and the place we went was bright with every shade of green. We visited an area called Manengouba, which is home to a mountainous national park with twin crater lakes. Also in the area is a waterfall called Ekom-Nkam, which was especially powerful after all the rains. Our friends Missy and Valérie joined us on this adventure - here are some photos from our weekend:
On the road, already enjoying the green scenery
A couple hours drive outside Douala, the landscape keeps changing
We stayed in a villa at the foot of the mountain the day before we started our hike, it was such a lovely place! Amazing flowers, and the staff made us some great meals.
Fresh juice at breakfast
We were so thankful for mornings like this one- good friends, birds singing, beautiful weather
The four hikers, ready to go
Early on the trail we passed some farms, one of the crops was coffee. Our guide was showing us the coffee beans, which will turn a shade of red when they are ready to be harvested.
This area has some stunning green, rolling hills. The villages in the mountains have herds of cattle, goats and horses.
We had some help with the camping gear - the hike was 12 kilometers each way, so these guys took the tents, water and supplies up to the lakes on horseback for us.
Continuing on the trail on the way up
Finally reached the summit and saw our first views of the lakes below
That shelter on the far side of the lake is where we pitched out tents for the night - here you can see the storm clouds rolling in while we were still finishing the hike in. We barely made it! As soon as we got there, we unfolded the tents (luckily they were the quick set-up type that don't need lots of assembly) threw our bags inside and zipped them shut.
Here's the guides leaving for the night, minutes before a torrential downpour
We stayed dry! It rained hard for about an hour, and then didn't rain again the rest of the night.
Dinner by flashlight- way too wet to build a fire. We ate well though- peanut butter and chocolate chip sandwiches, plenty of snacks, and some wine. :-)
We could watch the lightning off in the distance for quite a long time after the rain had stopped
Waking up the next morning..it was so refreshing and cool outside, and windy too.
Ready to begin the journey back to the villa
The weary hikers made it back to the villa - Missy's shoes didn't make it back in one piece, and we were ready for a shower and a meal. But still smiling, and so glad we did it!
One last place to visit on our weekend away was the Ekom-Nkam Waterfalls. The waterfall is 80 meters high (260+ feet), and was extremely powerful after these rainy months. Such a beautiful, lush area - this waterfall was once used as part of the backdrop for a tarzan movie - not hard to see why!
Thanks Missy and Valérie for being such great travel companions and adventurers- we had a great time!!! We are thankful for the opportunity to see more of the country of Cameroon, and for the fresh air and rest.