We left the Touristique Express Park at Ngaoundere some minutes past midnight. The natural thing to do at that time of the night was to sleep, but I was awake and was reflecting on the thoughts of how far I have come on the journey and what I would be expecting the following days ahead. The shipwreck, climbing of Mountain Cameroon, the secessionists that attacked a government convoy. I also thought of Kenya, which would be another major destination – I was actually concerned because I was refused entry the last time I visited and was deported. I wondered what to expect when I arrive this time.
We continued on the journey for almost 6 hours or so before it was day break. Some of the passengers already were leaving the bus as they were already arriving their destinations. I was going to the final destination of the bus which was Maroua – the capital of the Extreme North Region of Cameroon.
That morning, we made some stops at some village that sounded very familiar. Ngong – It sounds Efik, a language spoken in Nigeria. It coincidentally happens to be the name of a town in Kenya. I had a passer by help me with a photo.
The journey was not very boring. My next chair neighbor happened to be a Law student from the University of Ngaoundere and the few moments he was awake, we talked a lot. We discussed several trending issues in Cameroon – which ranged from local politics, government support for education in the country, secession and several other issues. He even showed me a laptop that he claimed was given to him by the government. He told me the government gave out free laptops to students studying Law and Medicine in the country. Something in me, wished those laptops were rather given to their Computer Science or Engineering students who I thought would need it more – probably because I studied Computer Science at the University myself.
It was a few minutes before it would be 10 o’clock that morning, I was told we could arrive the final destination around 10 but we were nothing near the final destination. My neighbor, the Law student whose name is Alioum Kachalla told me could arrive the final destination at around mid-day or one o’clock in the afternoon. We however arrived another important town, Garoua where we made another stop.
Shortly before we stopped at Garoua, I noticed a little boy who would be in around 6 years of age sitting sick and sad. I tried all the facial gestures I could make so I could get him to smile but all were to no avail. I tried to get a picture of him but he never wanted me to. He hid his face each time I positioned the camera to get a shot of him. Fortunately, I got a shot of him and showed him the same. Seeing his picture made him smile and we became friends instantly. He even followed me out of the bus when I went out of the bus to stretch my legs and buy some refreshment there at Garoua.
We continued our journey to Maroua and at around 1pm that afternoon we arrived. I was happy and was even tempted to continue to the border town of Kousseri but there were no more buses going that route that day.
I was asked to come the next morning by 5 o’clock the next morning to catch a bus headed to the town. Buses must leave very early in order to arrive the border on time – leaving late I learnt was very unsafe as there could be Boko Haram insurgents on the road who could attack, kill or kidnap victims.
I left the bus, making sure I got information on directions, costs and everything I needed to proceed to Kousseri, the next destination which I would be embarking on the next morning. This town shares boundary with Chad.
Finding a hotel in Maroua was easy, but I wanted something with a reasonable price. After visiting 3 or 4 different hotels, I was able to strike a deal with one of the managers of the hotel to pay 5000 XOF for a night. I stayed at Sahel Hotel, Maroua.
That afternoon happened to be the same day the finals of the 2018 FIFA World Cup was played in Russia.
It was France versus Croatia. I thought I could watch the match but I slept off. This was the first time I would be getting a good sleep after I climbed the Cameroon Mountain two days earlier. I later learnt France lifted the trophy eventually.
There were not so much to do that evening. I really wanted to spend time with the locals but I still needed to sleep as well. I took a motor bike ride round the town. There were not much to see. There were only a little to see which was just some government offices and establishments.
One other thing I observed in the town was that most of the things on sale there were made in Nigeria. There were not so many industries and companies like there were in the southern part of the country – even though they also depended on Nigeria for so many things.
I slept off around 7pm that night and woke up 4 o’clock the next morning, a very rainy morning and I could not leave the hotel till around 7am because of the rain. I eventually missed the bus I initially intended to board to Kousseri.