Day 101: Cameroon

Soutpiel Safari
John & Jenny
Mon 14 Feb 2011 07:17
Day 101: Sunday 13 February 2011 Bush camp in the forest near Ekok, Cameroon.  N05 49.030 E008 54.717 Distance driven 118 km
During the off-road driving yesterday I noticed that the clutch had become very "spongy" and when I got back I found that the clutch fluid reservoir was empty, indicating a leak somewhere, probably in either the master cylinder or slave cylinder.  On the recommendation of Dr Majib of the Afi Sanctuary, we drove to Ikom and went to the mechanic who fixes their Land Rovers.  We found a compound with about 20 Land Rovers in various stages of decomposition!  
The mechanic, Ebaye, took one look at the slave cylinder and said "let's change it"!  He took it our, went away on his moto for 20 minutes and came back with a service kit of new rubber seals.  The job was finished in just over an hour at a cost of N2,000 (£8.50)!  I was so surprised that he didn't try to rip us off as "whities" that I gave him N3,000.  By that time it was 1430 and we felt it was too early to stop for the day.  As the border was only 15 km away we decided we might just have time to cross into Cameroon before the border closed for the day.
It is a rather quaint border post at a bridge over the river separating Nigeria from Cameroon, the facilities all being in open sided huts high up above the river.  On the Nigerian side, all went well until Jenny presented her SA passport (the one with the Nigerian entry stamp).  Although the immigration official had been asleep at his desk when we arrived, he soon noticed that the SA passport didn't have a Nigerian visa.  Then ensued a long discussion about how this had arisen, how it had been the mistake of the immigration official on entry, etc, etc.  The immigration man said he could not put an exit stamp in either passport.  By that time I had my exit stamp and the car had been stamped out. I could see that he was debating whether to send us back to Abuja to sort it all out at HQ and was ready to tell him how neither I nor the car could go back, as I only had a single-entry visa!  As closing time approached we decided to tough it out and let him make the decision as what to do with us.  After consulting "higher authority" and taking photocopies of everything, he finally gave Jenny her two passports and just said "go" - no exit stamps!  We went quickly across the bridge into Cameroon where we had a very friendly reception from police, immigration and customs and all formalities were quickly completed.  We changed money and drove off on the notorious Ekok to Mamfe track, which we found in good condition as there has not been any significant rain so far this season.  After about 10 km we found a side track and turned off into the forest and camped for the night. 
It was a very hot humid night with no breeze in the forest. You have a good sluice down with cold water before going to bed but you are soon perspiring again. You lie in bed and sweat, the mattress and the pillow soon become wet and then you wake up in the middle of the night, uncovered and cold, but still wet.  You pull a sheet over you to keep warm and wake up in the morning damp and sticky.  Traffic started coming along the road before daylight so we got up and had a wash down standing naked in the dawn light with the bugs still biting.  The glories of bush camping!