After two long years we finally left Cameroon and are on our way home. The day was full of packing, repacking, throwing stuff in “up for grabs” for the volunteers we were leaving behind, cursing the accumulation of two years of stuff and using our mad Tetris skills to fit it all into two camping backpacks, two Camel-Baks, and one medium duffle bag. We had many final meals and final drinks and final hugs and tearful goodbyes and were drained by the time we stumbled into the airport – the taxi driver tried to change the price on us at the last minute and insist that it wasn’t normal practice to drive us up to the terminal building, just for good measure. After having our passports checked no fewer than five times, a couple meltdowns, and having a bottle of water purchased inside half of the “security checks” confiscated, we boarded the plane.
We flew for about forty five minutes and landed in Douala, where we waited for passengers to deplane, the plane to be cleaned around us, a crew change, and more passengers to board for an interminable hour. Fellow passengers treated the plane like any other mode of transport, leaning out of their seats to flag flight attendants like vendors who crowd every bus or bush taxi at every check point, village, or bend in the road, with commands of, “give me this,” or “bring me that.” The boy next to Kiyomi, though he was of narrow build, tried to take up not only his own, but also her seat, legs splayed wide under the arm rest and elbow and shoulder angled in above it. Finally sometime between three and four in the morning we left Cameroon air space and landed a few hours later in Istanbul.
A note on airplane food: it is amazing. The first bite of spinach nearly brought tears to our eyes.