9 hours in the car: 3 hours were spent feeling sleepy from the early morning start, 2 hours laughing (from tiredness and silly faces we made at each other), 3 hours listening to an audio recording of The Shack, and 1 hour singing along to music. We passed many colorful villages, and the roads in this region are lined with round huts. It’s wonderful to have so much time to deepen our relationships with each other in a new setting.
We’re now in Allot, and we’re staying in “guest housing”, which turned out to be three round huts on a compound of a missionary family. So fun! Our parlor is a gazebo, our bedrooms look like round camp cabins, and our bathroom is a smaller hut next door. There is a dry beauty to this village that reminds me of California or Arizona deserts. It’s so different from the rolling hills and lush vegetation of Bamenda!
Feb. 16 (Allot to Ngoundere):
Today we made a list of all the unusual things we saw. I have plans to turn it into a travel bingo game for the next crazy family that decides to embark on this trip.
- paved roads (but the potholes make them worse than the dirt roads)
- mud hut “suburbia”
- gasoline sold in a soda bottle
- round huts
- mosques (Katelyn counted over 40 today!)
- Asian man
- flaming red trees
- car accidents (at least 15)
- road sign (VERY unusual here!)
- white man
- solar power plant
- lime green house
- chicken crossing road (not so unusual, but funny)
Feb. 17 (Ngoundere to Maroua):
Hippos!!!! A pile of them in the river in Garoua! We went down to the water to look at them and the guy who feeds and tames them said he could call them over for us to see! One huge one (named Africa) came over. We were just thrilled to see one up so close, but then the guy motioned for us to come closer, and told us to feel the hippo ourselves! Not only that, but he told us to pet her! I rubbed a hippo’s nose!
Feb. 18 (Maroua):
We’ve arrived. The potholes were worth it! I really like it here. There are trees everywhere, providing relief from the intense heat. But the heat is great—it’s so dry; it feels like Southern California in September. The air here is nice, too. There aren’t many cars, so there is less exhaust, and many of the trees emit a sweet, fresh fragrance.
Today’s agenda: shopping at the artisana!
Feb. 19 (Waza Wildlife Reserve):
I can’t believe it: we raced giraffes today! We got up super early this morning to drive up to Waza and go on a safari. We didn’t expect to see too many animals (it’s not Kenya), but we did hope to see elephants and giraffes, even if just from a distance. As we were getting closer to the entrance to the park and singing along to The Lion King soundtrack, we approached what looked for a moment to be strange-looking trees on the side of the road. We quickly realized that this group of trees was actually a herd of giraffes, trying to cross the road! It was phenomenal! They are so majestic! And “tall” is certainly an understatement. We hung out on the road for a while, watching them, videotaping them, and then chasing them.
Once we got inside the park we saw a few monkeys and warthogs, many gazelles and birds, but no elephants. But we did get to see more giraffes, and not just look at them, but race them with our car! It was exhilarating! Giraffes are now my new favorite land animal.
Feb. 20 (Maroua):
We all attended the Far North Fellowship this morning, where we got to meet all the Wycliffe missionaries that live in this region. It was so exciting to hear about all that they are doing up here, especially since their ministries are so different than ours. There is a much higher Muslim population up here, which drastically changes the focus of ministry. It’s amazing to see how God has called certain people to certain places and cultures to do a unique work for His Kingdom. I’m really excited to spend some time tonight with my friend Karissa Clark, who is a long-term missionary up here.
Feb. 21 (Meskin):
We were planning on going out to see the rock formations at Rumsiki today, but we are all sick of the bad roads. Instead, we did some last minute shopping on Maroua, then visited a family in the nearby village of Meskin. We got to see their home and the work they are doing in a hospital they founded up there. We are all pretty tired today, so after getting back to Maroua, we just rested.
Feb. 22 (village near Garoua):
Goodbye, Maroua, hello marble quarry! We got to see how marble is mined and refined this morning! Marian Hungerford, a missionary in a village near Garoua, showed us where the second-best marble in the world is found and made into tiles! It was really interesting, and we even got to take a small piece with us. After that, just for fun, we drove a mile over to the Cameroon-Chad border and stuck a foot in each country. Amazingly enough, Chad looks just like northern Cameroon! On the way to Marian’s house, we stopped by some cotton fields and, with permission from the harvesters and much to their amusement, climbed into the sea container full of cotton and helped them stamp it down! We make friends everywhere we go. :)
Feb. 23 (Garoua to Ngoundere):
Although we’re enjoying our trip emensely, we’re getting ready to be home. Tonight Karissa, Katelyn, Lum, Alex and I are going to take the night train to Yaounde, where we’ll meet Chris and Karen in a couple days.
Feb. 24 (Ngoundere):
The train was cancelled last night, due to some problems with another train on the only track in the country, so we just hung out in Ngoundere today, and we’ll try the train again tonight. The girls and I found a place here that gives Henna (temporary) tattoos, so we spent most of the afternoon there. We were done getting our ankles and hands painted after a couple hours, but we were having so much fun getting to know the two sisters that do the Henna art, we ended up staying for longer, especially after they asked if we would stay for a late lunch with them. They served a delicious Chadian dish (they just came over from Chad 9 months ago), and Karissa did a great job using her limited French to help us all get to know each other better. I love how hospitable people are here!
Feb. 25 (Yaounde):
The train last night worked! It was a lot of fun, too, and probably the only time I will be able to afford a sleeper car. We’re now in Yaounde, and waiting for Chris to come so we can all go back to our beloved Bamenda home (especially Karen, who’s not feeling well, and who took the train with us to avoid going on the bad roads). It’s nice to see our friends in Yaounde while we’re here, though.
Feb. 26 (Yaounde to Bamenda):
Home at last! It was a wonderful trip, but it’s nice to have the cool weather and our own beds again. We came back a day early, because Karen got worse and we needed to get her to a doctor at a hospital in our area. She is at the hospital now to be tested and monitored, and will stay there until the doctors are sure she is better. Please pray for her quick healing and good spirits.
Even with the quick and concerned end of our trip, it was overall a wonderful two weeks. It still feels surreal that we got to see those animals, and I have a deeper appreciation and admiration for the people of Cameroon after seeing different regions and cultures of the country. It was also great to see what God is doing all over Cameroon and to build deeper relationships with the Jacksons. I’m so glad that God works in every part of our lives, even road trips, to do great works among his people.
Mar. 5 (Bamenda):
Update on Karen: she is home and feeling somewhat better, but she still has some painful swelling in her neck. Please continue to pray for healing and encouragement.
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