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Scott MacMillan

I’m about to leave Cameroon, heading into the woolly yonder: Gabon briefly, then the Congos. But first, I need to let the world know about the greatness of the spaghetti omelet, an amazing culinary innovation I came across in Cameroon.

It’s startling in its simplicity. You cook some spaghetti. You make an omelet, but before you throw the egg into the frying pan, you add the spaghetti to the egg. Voila! A spaghetti omelet. Oh, I get hungry just writing about it.

Cameroon’s other foodie highlight is its avocado salads. Beyond superb. In the Anglophone city of Bafoussam, we found a chop shop (that is, a little roadside shack, found all over Africa usually selling variations of the same: gristly meat served, greasy gravy, starchy mush) that specializes in avocado salads. Wonderful, cheap avocado salads, made fresh, on the spot, with crisp greens, purple cabbage and grated carrots. And they do spaghetti too.

Photos to come, at some point, but my connection speed is now debilitating.

NO EQUATORIAL GUINEA FOR YOU. I’ve had a mildly taxing few days of travel. Roger and I parted ways in Kribi, Cameroon, a beautiful Atlantic beach town where’d had a few days of R&R, with plans to meet up in a few days in a place called Lambarene, Albert Schweitzer’s favorite little place in Gabon.

My plan was to head through Equatorial Guinea, taking advantage of the strange fact that US citizens, unique among all nationalities, do not require a visa.

Equatorial Guinea sounds like a fairly wretched place, described by Simon Winchester as “The worst country in the world.” Just my kind of place. He visited back in the ’70s or ’80s, but since then, the country has come into absurd amounts of oil — which perhaps just makes it wretched and expensive. I don’t really know.

And I won’t know soon, because the entry point at Campo, south of Kribi, was completely closed. All local intelligence suggested this was not the case, including Cameroonian immigration control and the boatman who took me across the river estuary that separates the two countries.

I stood on Equatorial Guinean soil for a total of about four minutes until they threw me out and sent me back across the river. There seemed to be no recourse, not even bribery — though I didn’t offer anything.

So back to Kribi, resulting in a lost day of travel. I’m now trying to catch up with Roger, wherever he is. The only transport to the city of Ebolowa, near the crossing into Gabon, didn’t leave Kribi until 4:30pm. I waited for it to leave starting at 7am.

It was a good journey, though, on a dirt road through some of the densest rain forest I’ve yet seen. Sometime long after nightfall, I got out of a minibus in the town of Akom II (“Akom Deux”) and switched to a pick-up, finally finding myself at a hotel in Ebolowa, a pretty developed place by most African standards, at 2:30am. It would have been faster to go all the way back north to Yaounde, the capital, get a bus going south to Ebolowa. So it goes. The trip at least yielded some decent anecdotes for the column.

WHAT COMES NEXT. The next few days will see me rushing full speed ahead through Gabon (Oyem, Lambarene, Ndende), probably sleeping at a remote border crossing with Congo called Doussala. This is deep in logging territory, and the road south from Doussala to Dolisie has been known to get so mucked up during the rainy season (which is right now) that transport, provided you can find it, can be held up for weeks. Luckily we do have our two feet, and hopefully we’ll get a ride in a logging truck. Fun.

From Dolisie we head to Pointe Noire, on the Republic of Congo coast, thereby avoiding the madness of the twin cities of Brazzaville and Kinshasa; from there south into the Angolan enclave of Cabinda; from there, briefly, into Democratic Republic of Congo, at a place called Muanda. We’ll overlook the mouth of the Congo at a point called Banana, if the military lets us. If they do, we’ll have a banana at Banana and then get a boat to Soyo, Angola, and then high-tail it through Angola, for we only have a five-day transit visa — barely enough time to cross the country.

Once we cross into Namibia — the forecast now says early March — we’re basically back in the civilized world and the hairiest part of the journey will be behind us.

Goodbye for now.

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posted @ 2:15 PM,

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