By Chibuogwu Nnadiegbulam
A busy border, insatiable checkpoints, sickening bends and greens on hills. That's how I found my tired self in Bamenda, Cameroon.
Sam of Goal.com and Mr. Moses of Save Women's Football Foundation arrived in Ikom at about the time Faith and I were having dinner last night, so this morning, four of us, led by our hospitable host, Moses Umoeka had gone on to change some naira to CFA before embarking on the shoulder-aching bike ride to the border.
While the "okada men" crossed the barrier at the border with our luggage, we had to enter the Nigerian immigration office so that our passports could be stamped. We had a letter from the Nigeria Football Federation which helped a lot, especially in times of prospective extortions.
As we waited for the officers to go through our documents and take our passports, a lady in a skimpy gown, who claimed she was from Cameroon walked in.
She was immediately asked to go back to her country and change her dress or strip completely instead of being in between. Somehow, the lady was back at the gate, this time claiming to be Nigerian.
Well, I can't tell how that story ended, because she was there until we left after going into two other offices for our documents to be crosschecked.
On the Cameroon side of life
After this first hurdle. We went on to the Cameroon side of life, starting with the Frontier health post where Faith and Moses had to pay 10,000 CFA each for yellow Fever vaccination. After which all of us paid 1000 apiece for screening.
The next room we entered, a lady in uniform demanded 2000 CFA from us all. She then wrote something in a piece of paper and put it in our international passports.
By the time we got out, the bike men that have been carrying us started to protest. Insisting they would not take us further until we increase their money from N1000 to N3000 since they had spent plenty of time already waiting for us.
Mr. Moses spoke to them and they took us to the next destination where they were eventually given N2000.
We had arrived the Cameroon Immigration Office. There were so many persons outside the office, but it eventually got to our turn. After the officer attending to us read the letter from the NFF, he was more concerned about the letter stating that we were going to "cheer" the team, rather than going to cover the competition as journalists.
Well, we presented our professional ID cards when he asked for them and he eventually stamped our passports, telling us we have 90 days to stay.
We got into a vehicle from Ekong, headed for Bamenda. I thought since our passports had been stamped, that everything was okay and we can go on freely. I was wrong. We moved from checkpoint to checkpoint, which had ropes as barriers. And each time, we had to go down and show our passports and letter and answer questions. If not for the letter from the NFF, we would have had to pay at every point.
Anyways, in the course of our about three hours trip to Bamenda, we started discussing football, and one of the Cameroonians in the cab, a lecturer at the University of Calabar, declared that he had given up on the Lions of Cameroon since 2006. He said they can't even trap or pass a ball. Instead of watching the Lions play, he would tune to a news channel.
The lady seated in the car supported him too. She stated how impressed she was to watch the Lionesses play a friendly the other day. And concluded that the men are playing "rubbish". And we thought it was just Nigerian fans that can complain.
She served us our first Cameroonian delicacy of yellow yam and Huckleberry mixed with egusi and Pamplemousse drink to go with it.
It was from there we hung out a bit, before embarking on our night journey to Buea, which is about 45 minutes from Limbe.
You can follow Chibuogwu on twitter via www.twitter.com/Chibuogwu_N or simply @Chibuogwu_N