The next two days were spent driving back to Yaoundé, the capital, where we met up with our new driver/guide, Martial. We had a five hour drive from Yaoundé to Koutaba, heading to the west of the country. In the morning, as we were leaving, Martial called over a street vendor and had some tea that was made from the fever tree we learned about the day before. This herbal remedy is also widely used in cities for upset stomachs and other minor ailments. It was really great to see that the medicinal knowledge of the tribes is also used in more developed cities.
West Cameroon is known for its agriculture, and we passed field after field of crops, and noted even more crop rows on the surrounding hillsides.
We stopped along the road at a small market for lunch, and tried a new food that’s called a plum. It’s small, round, and purple, looking similar to the plum fruit we are familiar with in the U.S., but this tasted like an artichoke. It’s definitely savory, which I was not expecting.
We had been noticing a really attractive tree along the road, many loaded with round, pink fruits, which is the color of the plum when it has yet to ripen. It was good to make the connection, and this tree is definitely something to look into further. On the way, I (Ben) tried the Kola nut found in most cola sodas for the first time. It was extremely bitter; it did pack a punch of caffeine but I might stick to the more palatable version found in the states.
We drove to Bapit Crater Lake, finishing the journey by motorbike for the last two miles as the roads were not easily traversed in a car. The crater lake was formed during a massive eruption long ago. The explosion must have been massive and would have sent ash and debris far into the atmosphere similar to the Mount Saint Helens eruption. After the eruption the volcano fell in on itself, closing off its opening and trapping any rain that falls within the caldera. The water was a lovely blue color and it was mostly a cloudy day which is not the best to view the color of the water. A fun activity was yelling into the crater and then hearing your echo as it reverberated from one cliff to another.
We also tried some wild guava, simply called bush guava, which grows around the volcano. It had a nice texture with a sour lemony flavor that was actually quite good.
We then headed to our hotel in Koutaba that would be our home for the next two nights. The hotel had a lovely garden all around it. A tall slender fish tail palm caught my eye. It had massive fruiting bodies that were near a meter in length. Most of the plants in the garden were not native to the region; we even noticed golden rod growing in one of the beds.