Express to Gabon

After four weeks of various attempts, I tried a final time at the immigration office for an extension or conversion of my Cameroon visa but to no avail. It was time to put plan B into action so I grabbed my book and toothbrush and with plenty of time to spare (well, seven hours) before my visa expired, managed to get across the bridge separating Cameroon and Gabon hanging onto the back of a motorbike.

From here things didn't quite go to plan as I had studied well the 300km route from Yaounde south to the boarder, but only guesstimated the rest and messed up by a factor of two. But, having come this far the only option was to sit and wait for the next transport to continue my way 612km to the nearest Cameroon Embassy in Libreville to reapply for another visa. I hoped for something better, but ended up travelling most of it in a 10 seat toyota minivan with 17 people on board, plus luggage, which took the entire night to reach our destination, with multiple comical army checkpoints (about every 40kms!?).

Its hard to keep a straight face when asked for millionth time what your fathers name is, like they are going to catch you out or something? Oh yes, and don't leave home without your yellow fever vaccination certificate if you are heading to this part of the world. Not sure what happens if you don't have it but there was a look of disappointment every time I whisked it out of my top pocket. Assume a 'fine' is often an available solution.

With various papers, photocopies, passport photos, invitation letters and a wad of francs all in hand in large quantities, getting the visa in Libreville was the anticlimax. I'm stamped and sorted for the next six months.

Glanced at the city of Libreville but decided it was a pretty sad case of rubbish, traffic, a US$300 million presidential palace, some fancy hotels and not much else. I could have done with a swim to freshen up but instead in the late afternoon just found the next taxi-minibus-taxi-motorbike-taxi-bus-taxi combination for the 24 hour ride back home to Yaounde. The most memorable sight was the kids of the sides of the road in the more remote areas selling dead mammals of all rarities to passing cars. My driver bought something for his dinner that was perhaps related to an aardvark?


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