New year, new country

The last sighting of 2011’s sun, Campo, Cameroon

On January 1st, Campo’s bus station looked decidedly like the location of a good party the morning after, but I was assured transport would materialise, and it does so in the form of a Toyota pickup truck. Bags of yams are surprisingly comfortable to sit on. It turns out the only way out of Campo which doesn’t involve heading into Equatorial Guinea is to return to Kribi. Once there (again), I’m told to get to the town of Ebolowa ,inland towards the Gabonese border, I have to first go to Yaoundé, meaning a dull and annoying trip along the same route I came from just a couple of days before.

I’m quickly on a nearly full minibus for Ebolowa, and I head towards the border. The formalities are over quickly on Cameroon’s side. The Gabonese officials across the Ntem River, that forms the border here, are friendlier then I remember from 2009. I am only the 7th person to enter Gabon by this route in 2012 (on Jan 3rd). The first six were Cameroonian. There are a couple more stops for checks along the road. At one, I’m asked (being a rich whiteman) why I didn’t fly into Gabon! I don’t try and explain the significance of Encircle Africa, and instead opt for “I don’t like planes”.

I get on board a Bitam Express minibus for Gabon’s capital Libreville, 600km away. At our first checkpoint unusually its not me asked to get out for further investigation, but 3 people in front of me. In all there are between 13-15 checkpoints along the route, and we arrive at Libreville’s pointe kilometre huit bus depot at 2.25am. That’s a 21 hour day.
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