Cameroon / Cameroun: Country of Contrast
Bicycle Africa / Ibike Tours

 
 
     
  Dispatch 9 - Dschang  
 

Bafoussam‑Dschang (70km, 42 mi) Visit Dschang which is renowned for its beauty and climate.
Points of interest: vineyard, coffee farms, Bamileke chieftaincies.
Cycling conditions: paved, rolling, rolling, a little flat and then more hills.

 
     
 

Bafoussam: "Barbie's" RestaurantAlong with its other shortcoming Bafoussam seems to have a dearth of restaurants.  When we found this doll house size restaurant we decided we had better go with it.  Because of the pink theme we named this the Barbie Restaurant.  Despite our sarcasm them whipped up and excellent omelet, bread and coffee/tea/hot chocolate breakfast.

From Bafoussam started heading back to the coast.  If you are not in a hurry, it is a two day bicycle ride to Nkongsamba.  There are two routes to choose from; one by the old highway with an overnight in Bafang, and the other via the new highway with an overnight in Dschang.

Bafoussam-Dschang road: toll stationThe new highway is a toll road with toll boths.  Tolls seemed to be less than a dollar for cars and bicycles pay nothing.  Unlike most other places there was no sign showing the tolls for different vehicles.  But there is a big sign next to the toll booth about fighting AIDS.  Unlike the police check points, when a toll is paid the driver receives a receipt.

Bafoussam-Dschang road: vineyard

The highlands around Dschang have a relatively unique climate for Cameroon so you see some crops in the area that you won't see elsewhere in the country.  To the left is a vineyard.  It wasn't clear if the grapes were intended for the table or to be made into wine.  Not far from here is one of the few areas in Cameroon where they grow tea.

Bafoussam-Dschang road: mega-house It is curious how many very large houses there are along this section of road, a lot of them only partially finished.  There doesn't seem to be enough economic activity in the immediate area to pay for this kind of construction so we pondered the dynamic.  The Bamileke are know for there acumen for entrepreneurial activities so may be the owners live and make there money elsewhere and are investing it "back home."  Alternatively, there area is know for its nice climate so maybe wealthy people from other parts of the country are building "vacation villas" here to escape to during the hot season wherever their permanent residence is.  And then there are the real facts, which are yet to be determined.

Modern adaptation of tradition Bamilike architecture, Bafoussam-Dschang road Modern adaptation of tradition Bamilike architecture, Bafoussam-Dschang road Bike Friday in front of Bamilike chieftaincy At almost every town along the road their was a sign for a chieftaincy or sub-chieftaincy.  Where we could see the compound they didn't disappoint us and had some elements of the traditional Bamileke architecture.

Bafoussam-Dschang road: Bafoussam-Dschang road: onion gardenNeedless to say it is a beautiful road with plenty to look at and ponder.  Not having previously taken a picture of an onion patch on this trip, I decided to correct that omission in my collection with the picture on the right.

In Balessing, we stopped for refreshments, which provided an opportunity to fill in some gaps on the language research project.  Coming out of Bafoussam the language is Mungaka (Narrow Grassfields>Mbam-Nkam>Nun).  Most of the other languages the area are Narrow Grassfields>Mbam-Nkam>Bamileke.  North of Balessing, from Penka-Michel to Mbouda the language is Ngiemboon.  Around Balessing the language is Ghomálá'.  South of Balessing, around Dschang, the main indigenous language is Yemba.

Dschang There is a cliché about pretty university towns, but Dschange is a pretty university town.  It is set on rolling hills among higher hills, with a lot of trees in the town center.  The university is on the edge of town, on one of the higher hill.  Most of the students find housing down in the town so in the morning and afternoon there are streams of students connecting the two.

Professor Fai and Professor MartinOur hosts in Dschang were professors at the University of Dschang.  Fai and Martin are both theoretical physicists.  Both had studied in Cameroon and internationally.  Now they lecture about and do research on sub-atomic particles at the university.  The conversation with them on sub-atomic, juxtaposed to most of the rest of the economy we had been experiencing for the last week, took some exercise for the mind to fit the two together.

Dschang: mural on agricultural sprayingIt was with some irony that we saw this mural on pesticide application in town.  Earlier in the afternoon we had been talking to a professor and research chemist at the university who was doing research on pesticide toxicity in Cameroon.

Another chemist we met was studying the active chemical in traditional medical plants that were used to treat diabetes.  It would have been interesting to have been able to meet more of the faculty and learn their research and its applications to Cameroon.


Bafoussam‑BAFANG (56km, 35 mi) Down the Nkam River Valley and out of the hills.
Points of interest: coffee farms, waterfall 2 miles before Bafang
Cycling conditions: paved, mountainous, then flat, then more hills.

Bafoussam-Bafut road: entourage of childrenThe alternative route to the coast is the old highway.  The road is not in as good condition as the new road and in many place has reverted to dirt, but it is very beautiful and culturally interesting.

Bafoussam-Bafut road: Bafoussam-Bafut road: Bafoussam-Bafut road: Bafoussam-Bafut road:

In many of the villages there is the distinctive Bamileke architecture.  The most impressive is the chieftaincy in Bafang.

Bafoussam-Bafut road: Fulani camp

The road right-of-way is used by more that just vehicles.  Another group of frequent travelers are Fulani herders and their cattle that they are walking to market.  For a lot of the route there are trails for the cattle that parallel the road.  Another sign of the transit activity is the frame for a temporary shelter and a fire pit.

Bafoussam-Bafut road: bike rack

It is hard to know if it is impromptu or planned, but it was nice to see this wood fence doing double duty as a bicycle rack. The bicycles are all blue, one-speed Peugeots or knock-offs of this Francophone West Africa standard.

Bafoussam-Bafut road: waterfallBafoussam-Bafut road: Plenty of nature beauty is provided by adjacent mountains, the Col de Bati (a pass through the hills) and some tall, thick, pounding waterfalls and their emerald green glens.

Addendum

If you head east from Baffoussam you will pass Bangante and eventually reach Yaounde.

Crossing the Noun (or Nun) River

Bangante

In Bangante boys were using fine looking hand-made wooden bicycles.

Cameroon: homemade wood bicycle

Bangante-Yaounde highway

Bangante-Yaounde road: view to the side

 

Next dispatch.

 
 

 
     
 

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