Early-morning arrival in Douala

Trip Start Mar 24, 2010
Trip End Apr 12, 2010

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Where I stayed
Hotel Ibis

Flag of Cameroon  ,
Thursday, April 1, 2010

I spent the rest of the day in the airport departure area working on my laptop and reading; there was nothing else to do. I felt very bad for our church members in Cote d'Ivoire; I had very much wanted to visit them and help with their needs. I knew that was very disappointing to them. But that appeared beyond my control at that time, so I tried to move on.

I have taken the plunge to Amazon's electronic reading pad, the Kindle. My sister bought one a few months back and loved it. She’s decided less is more and is preparing to rid herself of most of her paper books to simplify her life. I don’t think I’ll be selling any books any time soon. It seems to be a family malady to accumulate books, and I can't think of parting with many of mine. My father has a basement full of bulging bookshelves and seems to know right away when a title is out of place or missing. My home office has one wall floor almost to ceiling full of books, we have books in every bedroom (more than my wife cares for in ours), and I have more boxes of them in the basement for which I don’t have shelf space at the moment. A gentle madness is how one author described the love of books.

Anyway back to the Kindle: I’m quite impressed with it so far. The screen is easily readable and not at all tiring to the eyes. The least-expensive model that I bought is supposed to have room for about 5000 books, and the registration and backup system seems good, though I haven’t had to use it yet. I had a very pleasant surprise after I bought. I found that there are many old classics, at least 5000 titles in the public domain now that can be downloaded for free.

That’s the first thing I did. I found many titles that were on a waiting list that I had intended to buy, and that I was able to download for free (free after you buy the $250 Kindle…). They’re not very trendy, but things I’ve wanted to read (or in some cases reread): titles by G.K. Chesterton (a relatively new discovery for me), Julius Caesar’s Commentaries, the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius, Boccaccio, Tacitus, Plato, Plutarch, Sun-Tzu, Machiavelli, and more recently, the autobiography of US Grant, works by Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Ibsen, Balzac, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Richard Burton (the African explorer not the actor), Edgar Allen Poe, Theodore Roosevelt, and in a lighter vein, Arthur Conan Doyle, Edgar Rice Burrows, Zane Gray and more. I’ve only gone a short way through the freebies, which aren’t too well organized (for understandable reasons). But I’ve read 3 books already on this trip, and have started two or three more.

That’s how the day in the airport passed.

The flight to Doula, via Yaoundé, left close to on-time. It was a fairly smooth ride though I could watch lightening flash in the clouds to our South for most of the flight. It gave a beautiful, sublime sensation to see the power and scope of those phenomena. We spent 40 minutes on the ground in Yaoundé, the capital of Cameroon and then took off again for Douala where we arrived a little after 01:00. Surprisingly I moved quickly through immigration and my suitcase popped out among the first. I kept my head down and shuffled slowly through the customs line, hoping to be allowed to pass without having to open my suitcase, and my wish was realized. Mr. Mabout and Mr. Andang were there to meet me, and were surprised that I was actually on time this time! We drove slowly through the dark city to my hotel, where after checking to make sure they had a room (my reservation was for a week from now) we made quick arrangements for later in the morning (it was 02:00 by this time) and they left, and I was given a room.

A porter pushed my suitcases up on a cart. Before the door, I tried swiping my key several times but it wouldn’t work. Then the porter tried it, perhaps he would have the knack. He thought he heard noise from inside my room. I leaned down to listen. Right then the door swung open and an American man opened the door in his underwear and asked if we needed help. I quickly told him I’d been given his room, apologized and down we went again to the front desk. It was a good thing it was an easy-going American. Folks from some other nationalities might not have been so understanding.

I was given another room. But when we stepped out of the elevator once again, it was unpleasantly obvious we were on a smoking floor. Before accepting that, I thought I’d try one more time. Finally the night clerk found an empty, non-smoking room, and I was able to put an end to a surprising and disappointing day-and-a-half.
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