All I heard was “Camero…” they hadn’t even finished saying Cameroon and I was nodding, “Yep I’ll go, could do with 5 nights sleep without a baby monitor!!”
Before I knew it I was sitting in the Travel Medical Bureau in Dundrum, I definitely should have just turned left and gone shopping instead! Three jabs later and 14 days for them to work their magic (or viruses..) and with my visa in hand I was all set for my first trip to Africa, Douala, Cameroon via Paris to be precise. It was the talk of the family for the week…month..still is.
Eleven hours later including delays, transfers and, according to my colleague, “Gráinne being meticulously searched by customs/security” we landed in Douala, to be met by our colleague Alain, our African Regional Manager.
We stayed in the Sawa Hotel in the Bonanjo area of Douala. The hotel is large, clean and comfortable. Granted, the air is damp and I noticed the clothes I didn’t wear were damp going home. I should have listened to my boss when he said keep your clothes in a plastic bag.
Alain had all of the groundwork in place as to what hospitals we would be visiting and had lined up meetings with the Civil Registry office. René, our much-valued translator and guide (let’s face it, Alain is practically Irish at this stage!) joined us every day.
Day 1 of the Sláinte tour….I mean work trip… brought us to a private hospital. We were meeting with doctors, nurses, and IT staff and get a feel for the size of a potential project. I’ll save ye from the boring work details for now 🙂
That evening we ate in the local army barracks next door to the hotel. The theme that evening was all about the meat. Seasoned to perfection. I’ve never tasted such tender tasty meat. Some beers to wash it all down and we were all settled into Cameroon.
Day 2 on the tour bus brought us to the Civil Registry office, Commune de Douala 2eme. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to meet the Mayor, but we did have ample time with Secretary General Paul Roger. Some interesting rules there such as polygamy (multiple wives) is legal but no mention of polyandry (multiple husbands)!!!!!
Some logistical issues popped up along the way as well, the offices on the top floor had some leaky roofs, I guess we’ll be recommending water proof casings for their computers.
That evening Alain brought us to eat by the river. Being honest, if I’d come across these places on my own there is no way I would have gone in. But to say the food was unreal is an understatement. So fresh, we saw the fisherman walk out of the water with his catch in hand and then sell us our choice; the lady who owns the dining area then charges to season and cook the fish. No need for carbs or veg as we just filled up on the tastiest fish ever.
Once again we’d wrapped up another day with full stomachs, which did help me to sleep despite being bitten by mosquitoes every night. Apparently, if I’d requested to stay above the 3rd floor in the hotel I could have avoided the buggers as they can’t fly that high. Does anyone know if that’s actually true?
Read more in Cameroon Part 2