I am waiting at Zurich airport for my flight to Douala, the air hub for Cameroon. It is my next travel destination from West Africa (well, Cameroon is maybe more Equatorial Africa than West). Flight is more that half an hour delayed because we are waiting for connecting flight from Paris. Plane is getting more and more full. It is time to take off. I am going to sleep and thinking about my next Africa adventure.
About 7 pm we are landing at Malabo, Equatorial Guinea. Short stop, half of the plane is now empty – Malabo is popular destination for workers and businessmen. Its oil boom boosts development of whole country and many international companies are trying to do some business there.
Next 20 minutes in the air and we are landing at Douala. It is the largest Cameroon city and also the business center of the whole country. Airport is surprisingly large (not like airports at Dakar, Bamako or Niamey). I am leaving aircraft and immediately I feel it. Hot and humidity. After freezing and cold home it is hard change. Moving through corridors to reach health control. Checking my yellow fever vaccination is easy. Lot of people avoids this control without any problem just officer is a little bit nervous. Next is immigration. Also no problem. I do not understand why people writing stories about problems at Douala airport. Everything is going all right. Waiting for luggage is pain. Lot of people, chaotic small room and two (or three?) luggage belts. After long time I find my backpack on one of them. Take it to my back and leave the airport. It is my actual task. Last check is customs. Customs are quite strict and searching inside luggage of local people. Their post is really chaotic. I try to go and not stop. The last one stops me and speaks French. I answer at English. One sentence is enough and he just says me to leave. I am outside the airport, eureka. Really no real problem to go through airport.
It is about 10 pm so it is time to go to hotel. But first I have to change money to get some CFA (Central Africa Francs). I am looking for exchange office (one at arriving hall was closed). A lot of people are everywhere especially at the at departure hall. There is also one ATM machine so I think to withdraw money here. At the middle of the hall is information corner so first I go to check information about exchange here. Ladies are pleasant and show me one man who provides exchange transactions. Well, the same story as in Dakar or Niamey. Banks are closed so local guys are ready to help. Exchange rate is ok so I change small amount to reach city. Tomorrow I will change more at bank or hotel.
I booked room at German Seamen’s Mission well advanced. It was really smart idea. This place is a popular accommodation option and it is often full. I take taxi just for about 3500 CFA and leaving airport. Hotel is not far so after about 20 minutes I am at hotel. Security checks my booking, everything is all right, so I get the key. Great nice clean room with AC for excellent value 20 000 CFA. I take place at bar and watching ex-pats enjoying Friday evening. Barbecue, beer, lovely atmosphere. Welcome to Cameroon!