Day 3 -- Planes, Trains and Automobiles

The wearying 2-day journey to northern Cameroon gave a view of everyday African life

  • by Katie Croft

Editor's Note:  This is the third of 10 entries from writer Katie Croft.

Day 3

My team and I reached Douala, the first stop in our host country of Cameroon, at the end of several long days of air travel.

Shortly after our arrival, our team of 9 loaded our backpacks, suitcases and weary bodies into a white, 12-passenger van for a 3-hour drive north to catch our 16-hour train ride to our next stop.

Seeing Everyday African Life

As the van sped down the road, I enjoyed looking out the thick windows, observing glimpses of day-to-day life in Africa. I loved the rolling landscape and lush trees and plants.

With the windows open, we could smell many of the inviting scents of lunchtime in the nearby roadside cafes, though the smells did not linger long.

Upon arriving at the train station in Yaounde, I quickly settled into my top bunk. After a meal of mystery meat, I popped in my earphones and finally drifted off to sleep -- the first solid sleep I had had since leaving my own bed in Orlando days ago.

Is the Travel Worth It?

Early the next morning, fog had settled in between the trees and huts outside the train window. I got up and made my way to the back of the train car for some quiet time to think, take a few photos and journal.

I stood at the doorway watching picturesque scenes of African-village life quickly pass outside. Our 16-hour train ride ended at 11am in Ngaoundere. But, our base city of Garoua was still another 4- to 5-hour van drive away.

Our team of 9 people plus a Cameroonian driver, luggage carrier and 2 more Cameroonian staff guys piled into the van. With our luggage strapped to the top, we headed down the road for the last leg of our long journey to northern Cameroon.

Overall it took more than 45 hours of actual travel time to get to our base location. I had a lot of time to sit and think in those few days. The question I pondered the most was, "Is all of this travel and effort worth it?"