We wake up in a different world. Well, in fact, we woke up many times, last night, each time the train pulled into the next station, blowing its horn without any consideration for its passengers. But you easily fall asleep again on the rhythm of wheels on the tracks. With first light, looking outside, the dry savannah from the last week has gone, and verdant green jungle surrounds the train on both sides. Parts have been chopped down for agriculture, mostly bananas and papayas. Which becomes obvious at the stations, where enormous amounts of bananas are being loaden onto the train. The round huts have gone, square huts, and more elaborate houses of cement, have replaced them. During the night we obviously crossed a cultural border.

the look outside the train window: verdant green jungle

more looking outside, palm trees and bananas

bananas being loaded on the train at one of the stations in between

and food sellers using the opportunity

The view from the train is not unpleasant. At one stage we pass a river, I think this is the Sanaga. Ever so often we pass small stations, seemingly in the middle of nowhere, where people sell food for on the train – although the train has a spacious restaurant carriage, serving quite acceptable breakfast.

the train, all the way

what I think is the Sanaga River

a small hut for the fishermen

enormous avocados, for sale on the platform – but not yet ripe enough to eat

the reunification monument in Yaounde, celebrating the coming togethr of the English- and French-speaking parts of the country


Towards 11 am we reach Yaounde, Cameroun’s capital city. Lots of slums along the track, lots of development in the form of 4-5 storey apartment buildings a little further away. Not particularly pretty. And then there is the station, large freight terminals first, and then the passenger section, rather humble for a capital city. Mayou has arranged for a car, via a friend, which is to stay with us for the rest of the day.

entrance into Yaounde, view from the train

and Yaounde slums, too, we are cruising through their backyards

railway crossing, a rare moment that all traffic stops!

outside the station, a bottle collector

In the hotel we meet another friend, who has already paid the hotel for us. I begin to understand how this society works. Mayou is from the north, but knows lots of people all over the country, also northeners. And they do each other favours – which they expect to call in at some time in the future, of course. I am not sure if they take a cut from what we pay for the service, a little independent research shows that we are actually getting a good deal, for the hotel, for the car. And the big advantage is that you can be sure not to be crossed, because that would ultimately come back through the network. The disadvantage is that you don’t not always get the best person for the job…

one of the squares in central Yaounde

and this victory arch, or whatever it is

the rather unimaginative independence monument, from 1960


Our driver is from Douala, the largest city and commercial centre further towards the coast, he is not from Yaounde. I had asked to be taken to a small, specific museum at the edge of town, but he brought us to the National Museum, instead. Museum is museum, right? Unfortunately, it is Monday, and all museums are closed. “Ok, can we then go to Place d’Independence”?, an obviously important square in town. “Oui, patron”. Instead, we arrive at Place de Reunification, no doubt also important, but not where I had wanted to go. Both the driver and Mayou try a few times “but this is Place d’Independence, is the same thing”, even though the sign clearly says something else. I happen to know that at the square is also the main office of Afriland Bank, significant for its outside decoration with Cameroonian themes. “Ah, Place d’Independence!”. And off we go, across town one more time, through the permanent traffic jam, and to real Place d’Independence. Where we admire the rather unimpressive monument, and the much more impressive Afriland Bank. Somebody claims I am not allowed to photograph the building, and tries to make me delete all the pictures again. Right, after having gone through all the trouble to get here? No way!

the facade of the Afriland Bank

with impressive silhouettes based on local themes

the top of modern architecture, one of the ministeries

and this is modern architecture, but more of the 60s

We drive around a bit more, but without museums there is actually not a lot to do in Yaounde. Some interesting architecture of government buildings, perhaps, or the presidential residence, the White House of Cameroon, as our driver calls it. In the end we settle for a Turkish restaurant, our first non-African food since we started, and then retire to our hotel. Which has air conditioning, hot showers, even a Nespresso machine – a luxury after so many days of instant coffee. And internet, also a first since Ndjamena.

Next: to the Bamileke kingdoms in West Cameroon.

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One Response to 13 March 2023

  1. Thea Oudmaijer says:

    Dit is inderdaad een heel andere wereld zowel het landschap als de gebouwen in de stad. Voor jullie een aangename verandering na de afgelopen tijd.
    Zelfs een lekkere nespresso😀😀

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