Saturday, December 19, 2009

Travel, Trek, Goodbye, Travel

*please excuse the numerous errors below, (including no apostrophes)
Im typing on a French Keyboard.

Monday December 7th Continued
We ate lots and lots of corn chuff, negotiated rent with the mayor, said goodbye to Joshua, Andy, Jemma, Richard, Kozaku, Louise, Patience, Collete and family. We moved our stuff over to Sian and Louises and stayed there for the night.

Tuesday December 8th
We woke up early for our journey back to Buea and said our goodbyes to Sian and Louise. On the way down the road we saw Patience and she helped us to the motor park. I was so happy to see her again and so sad to have to say goodbye again. I wish I could bring her back with me, her and her son. A yound widow in Cameroon is a horrible thing to be. Our journey back to Buea went smoothly and we arrived around 6. We were very warmly greeted back and since our old apartment was occupied we were given a place inside the house. Esther was sent home to Bamenda to care for her sick baby so again we had a sad goodbye. After 9 days of no water wa had a shower, an amazing ice cold shower. And to top of the good day I got to talk to Joey and I was fed. Smile.

Wednesday December 9th
Today was a day of rest, laundry (from the no water and red dirt road days of Belo), and preparation for the great trek. We went to the MtCEO office and met our guide, and after we ventured to the market to buy our food for the 3 days journey. I made fresh green beans for
dinner YES FRESH VEGETABLES, AMAZING. (We bought the beans through the bus window while in transit, somewhere between Belo and Buea).

Thursday December 9th
We got an early start, headed to the office to meet our guide and porters, and begin the trek. Chelsea wasnt feeling well and about 45minutes in (around 10AM) she decided to turn back. We thought it better she be sick at home than on the side of the mountain and if nothing else, it surely wasnt going to make her feel any better. Her porter took her back and I continued on with my guide and porter. Resting point one=1000M. Resting point two, Hut 1 about 2000M, the last source of water for two days. Resting point 3 and dance to please the rock god, about 2300M. Here they burn the earth and we are at the level of the clouds. Looks like the end of the world huh?
Now my heart and lungs are telling me that if I dont stop walking it will be the end of my world. Resting point 4, The Magic Tree=2500M, the only tree in sight. I was told that between Huts 1&2 is the hardest part, with the pain I was feeling I was praying this was right. Done for the day by 3PM, Hut 2=2850M. Now we eat and play cards to pass the time. Sleep is nonexistent as the rats scamper over my feet.

Friday December 10th
A very long day ahead of us we begin trekking by 7:30AM. The first hour was awful. Maybe I just needed to start slower to get warmed up or it was still as brutal as the part just before the Hut, or both. Either way, I was questioning myself. My guide told me that this is where most people turn back, weakness, disgust, altitude sickness etc. I had to rest. I gave my porter my watch to keep my mind off the time and decided that no matter what I wasnt giving up so I might as well be happy about it. Ten minutes after we stopped there was a scheduled break at an awesome cave. I was frustrated that neither my porter or guide had encouraged me, saying that a break was coming. I talked with them and they told me laughing that we had passed two resting points already without stopping. I couldnt help but laugh, laugh and feel happy, feel that maybe I wasnt so weak afterall. I dared ask how high we were and was very pleasantly suprised. I explored tha cave and decided to press onward. The terrain grew molder and the air colder and we reached Hut 3 (about 3445M) in what seemed like minutes. Again shortly after that we reached the summit. It was only 10:30 and I was feeling really good.
The descent however is not the same route we came up. I knew we had a long long way to go. First the descent was tough, very rocky. Then we came to my vary vary favorite part of the whole experience- one hour straight of ful fledged running down volcanic ash, litlerally a mountain of ash, it felt like boarding in the wierdest way, boarding and running downhill at the same time. Since the porter and guide were ever behind me going at my pace I took off as fast as I could fly. After the ash the really no fun part came. I was over walking and the prize of the summit had been won. What was there to walk for? We passed a crased plane on the side of the mountain, walked through endless savanna, over the lava flow of 1942 for 90+ minutes, through flower fields, over the flow of 1999, 1982, 2000, and over another really neat from about 35 yrs ago that was all covered in lichen. Finally around 3:30 (ahead of schedule, without my watch) we reached Manns Spring. We camped at the straw and thatch shelter for the night and drank abundanly from the spring, oh and we feasted-hot rice.
Sleep was again difficult. By this time I had developed a relationship with my porter, Thompson. He is studying pre-law and gender studies at Buea university and training to run the race up the mountain next February (look up the race cause it is totally insanly awesome). He and I had good talks about gender and agriculture. He also knew the rats bothered me. I told him I was taking a benadryl to help me sleep; he decided it would be a good idea to at that point tell me that the king rat in Cameroon was a meat eating rat and that it surely wasnt a good idea to sleep to soundly. HAHAHA.

Saturday December 11th
30mintues of rainforest, one hour of savanna, 30minutes of lava flow, 4hours of jungle. Civilization, oh wait, I mean a village, yay a village! After we passed the prison about an hour into the first day until we were in the highland farms of Bokongo (1700M) I didnt see a single person other than my guide and porter. Imagine that out west, oh wait, not possible. The trip was spectacular but I was ready to be home. I met Chelsea back and the house and to both of our relief she was feeling better. After a shower we met the porters and the guide for a beer and a little celebration. They gave us rocks from the mountain and honored me with a little speech. Actually, I got acompliment I hope to never forget.
Sunday December 12th
Rest. I was further honored by beging given a bar of beautiful pears (avocados, my faaavorite) and more mountain rocks. Chelsea and I met Thompson to watch a traditional wrestling match (part because Thompson rules, part because we didnt want to go to kingdom hall, part because,
well TRADITIONAL WRESTLING). Do you hear that Joey and Bennett?
Monday December 13th
Laundry. Prep for take off.This is me double tasking-trying to take Chelseas mind off of her anxiety to see Will and learning the ever important skill of carrying good on your head to free your hands. Hey, you gotta get the panties and socks off the drying line somehow.

Tuesday December 14th
Pack. Sell the phone back-haggle haggle haggle. Lots of goodbyes. Find a driver to take us to Duoala- haggle haggle haggle. Smooth journey. We arrived really early to avoid "moving in the night" and thus had plently of time for one last Cameroonian lager-Castel. We struggled to get through security. When we arrived our passports were stamped with the date October 6th instead of November 6th and thus it seemed as if our visas were expired. After that was sorted I got pulled aside for a water bottle, instead of making me dump the bottle they made me chug it until they were satisfied it was water. THEN they saw what looked like a giant bag of weed in bag which in actuality was a bag of dried vegetables we were taking back to Irene as a favor to our host family the Abias. So then I was searched and repetatively asked for a bribe, after about 5 full minuted of refusing to pay a bribed they let me go. Our plane was delayed three hours and it was perfect timing cause all of a sudden my stomack started to turn. Thats right folks, I threw up in the Cameroon airport bathroom. I almost made it out of Africa without getting sick, almost, not quite.

Africa is beautiful and I will certaily be going back. I dont have anything more to say because, well, I never spare even the slightest of details. More to come from France. Love to all.


*This computer wont flip the photos, Ill do it later. I figure sideways pictures are better then no pictures.


  1. Once again, Lauren Bell emerges victorious! Was there any doubt, folks? Seriously though, that sounds like such an incredible experience. I am so glad you got to do it, and glad it went well (brotherly concern for safety and all that). I love you Sis. Continue on your amazing journey.

  2. I love you, love you so much. I am so proud of you! I miss you! I am jealous - you are living the dream! I am in awe of your endurance and dedication, as always. You are the bestest!!!! again, I love you so incredibly much.