There is a post just published before this one by Russ. You may want to scroll down to view it first. Also remember you can click on the pics to enlarge. Good to speak to you guys from CLC earlier

Written By Darren 28/1/11. Photogaphy by Darren

We said our goodbyes to Des and his family and hit the road again, easing the growing itch in our feet and our need to press on. Our route was via Takum and thereafter, on rough tracks, south towards Bissaula. Before Bissaula we camped off the track after following a small path for a km and finding a peaceful spot to hang our Hammocks and get a restful sleep (the last peaceful night for a while). Not long after starting our dust eating day, before reaching the police post at Bissaula, I lost view of Russ who should have been in my mirror. I rallied back as quickly as the road would allow, for it was likely he had had a fall. I reached him soon. His bike was lying on the floor facing the wrong way and Russ was sat on the verge holding his leg with grimace in his face. Again, not that long after the previous injury had healed, he had fallen on the same ankle. It predictably started to swell as it had before and again Russ was in a familiar pain. Ouch.. Prayers please.Fulani Wommen In Nigera, on their way to market

It was another 50km to the border on a gradually disintegrating track and over river fords. Eventually by lunch we forded the river that divided Nigeria and Cameroon. The Vegetation had started to become more lush and the relief, mountainous. Africa as it seemed was changing again and signified a new chapter in our journey was about to begin. On the far bank of the river (Cameroon), we prepared lunch after having bathed in the cool mountain water. I shared out some shampoo with a local Fulani woman. I don’t think she had experienced shampoo before and was quite impressed with how it cleaned her and her child’s hair! Will offer some shaving foam next time.

Crossing the border

Clean, fed, happy and relaxed we continued unaware of ‘God Almighty’ around the corner.

'God Almighty' This pic doesnt show the angle nor how loose it was

 God Almighty is the name Russ gave to the mountain track which was the first to defeat us. A section over about 80m was

at about 45 degrees steep and full of loose rock. Fully loaded I managed so far until the front wheel went in the air and bike followed to the floor. I picked it back up but every time I tried to ride up the back wheel traction would fail and I’d only manage to slide backwards.  With Russ’ help we managed to get the bike the few more meters where there was a slightly flattened section about a third of the way up. Then some Kids appeared and offered their help. On top of their heads they carried Russ’ Panniers and luggage to the top and Russ took on the first part of ‘God Almighty’. It started well but after only a few meters the track claimed his attempt too. At this point some men had appeared. The Kids took, to the top, my luggage and us guys spent an hour slowly pushing my bike to the top. Absolutely exhausting!  A short rest and we returned for Russ’ bike until eventually we found ourselves so grateful to be at the top and with bikes in one piece. Down the other side was as steep and braking almost impossible as the bike would slide. Still, it was so much easier and with concentration, quickly achieved. Good bye to the guys and onwards in to the ‘Grasslands’ of Cameroon.

Fulani crossing the border

Not sure why they are called the grasslands. It was a mountain range which has a road circling it known as the ’Ring Road’. It was this ring road that we were trying to get too and the most northern town of it had immigration. The Grasslands area was also historically and presently, where numerous Fondoms (Kingdoms) have been forged. Each one different in size but with a degree of autonomy within Cameroon, followed a similar monarchy structure as to what we know. We never made it to immigration but a few hours short we stopped at a village where we were welcomed and invited to sleep the night. We chose not to take some ones bed but camped in the palace compound and entertained the villagers by simply being ‘white’.  The Fon (King of that particular Fondom) wasn’t at home that evening for us to greet but other villagers we did. One of these introduced herself as Princess Helena. She turned out to be such a laugh and good fun to spend time with. This was probably because she was more confident with us than most.

Pulling water for princess Helena and the white me

 The children that night sang us songs. Beautiful voices with one leading and all the others following in cannon, the children sang church hymns translated from their own tribal tongue.

Bye bye to princess Helena and all, including the Fon who had returned, and we were on our way again. The roads remained challenging but the mountainscapes were fun and picturesque to traverse. We finally stamped into Cameroon and headed South West down the ring road. The roads did not improve but proved to continue to be the most difficult on our journey so far. Large rocks, deep dust and washed away parts of the track that had formed deep gullies, continually threatened to throw us from our bikes, which they did on the odd occasion. It continued like this until we reached Nyos Village where a paved road took us up to Lake Nyos. Here there was a small military camp that had been there the last decade since a gas eruption in the lake claimed 1700 lives below. Their job was to ‘guard’ it. It was quite odd with a fountain in the middle that was allowing the gas to escape. We camped with these guys that night and they turned out to be helpful in collecting fire wood and water. Even our washing up was done for us. The Rest of the way (about 50 miles) was easier with parts of the road tarred. We soon arrived to Bamenda city, 1234m up with a cool mountain climate.

The 'Ring Road'

 And it is here we are again stuck with maintenance issues. At least Russ will get time to rest his ankle and we can wash the red dust from our kit.

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