Monday, March 14, 2011

Life on The Road In Africa

Road trips, have it's ups and down. For four months now the same group of us, have been traveling together through some of the most beautiful and dangerous parts of Africa, and sharing the experience. Stuck together on a truck,24-7, like some sociology experiment, where people from different nationalities and different levels of income, come together to try and get along. For the most part, things go great.

At times you have one or two people that push you over the edge and you want to smack the attitude right out of them. But even if you travelled with your best friends or family you still have times when they get on your nerves, so you yell and argue,might even come to some shoving but then you shake hands and move on.

One of the characters that has kept me entertained along the trip has been an English man who does 3D graphics in movies and computer games, most famously in Star Wars and Harry Potter, and walked away from his 25 year career because he was sick of the way the industry is starting to treat the employees. His humor has kept me laughing through times when normally you would want to kill those you are sick of traveling with.

His creativity is beyond me and his British humor keeps me rolling in laughter, over the bumpy roads, long travel days,and when the scenery isn't worth photographing. At the moment we are coming up with the most creative ways to flip each other the bird.

Traveling through Africa you have to be patient and have a sense of humor otherwise it will frustrate you and wear you down. Nothing is ever on time, things don't go as planned, and you see the wackiest stuff.
You will enter a restaurant and get seated, handed a menu from the waiter, and then you make your order, " I'll have the chicken," they leave and come back and tell you " sorry we don't have any chicken," "OK well, I'll have the beef burger" they leave and come back and tell you they don't have any beef. "OK well, I'll have the beans and rice." They leave come back and tell you, they are out, You finally ask them,"what do you have," they leave come back and tell you "sorry, we are out of everything."

At the moment I am in the armpit of Africa, but besides being lush with rain forest I wouldn't compare it being anywhere close to an armpit. Cameroon has been one of my favorite countries, and one I plan to visit again someday. The coast is absolutely stunning, with clean sandy beaches, waterfalls cascading right into the ocean, and virgin rain forests.

Having a full day to explore the area around Kribi, a few of us, took a canoe ride for an hour up a river, to visit a Pygmy village. Pygmies are only found in western Africa, and have survived in the rain forests for hundreds of years.
The village looked like a set from a movie, small huts, a pot was on the fire, and a family of pygmies were gathered around it and smoking, as if a director from a movie, had just yelled "action," now enter the white tourists. As if by script, the Chef entered the village and greeted us with a net around his shoulder, a spear in one hand, and holding the horns of some antelope in his other. I snapped a few pics, taking advantage of photographing a culture that is slowly getting absorbed by the rest of the population. He then asked for a donation to his village, either some cigarettes or 2,000 CFA. (4 US dollars)

Another Pygmy came walking through the forest wearing a pink collared shirt, a white skirt, wearing Nike shoes, and talking loudly on her cell phone. She then stopped in her tracts, once she saw us, unaware tourists where visiting the village, like she didn't get the memo to be in costume. I stopped photographing and realised I was too late, the pygmies in this area had become modernized.

The whole way back from the village, we laughed and entertained ourselves with jokes, to make us get over the fact that we got ripped off and payed a lot to have our guide take us up the river to nothing more than a tourist trap. We joked with the guide about how he should put out fake crocodiles in the river, a mechanical elephant in the bushes, and came up with non politically correct jokes, such as he should warn the pygmies that smoking can stunt your growth.

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