July 6, 2015: Bamenda, Cameroon — Benji told me to sleep in this morning as he needed to get the power steering on our Pajero fixed—probably a minor issue. He’d take it to the shop first thing in the morning, pick me up with Oliver (our driver) at 8, and we’d travel five hours to Bamenda to spend the afternoon birding there.
At 8:30, Benji arrived in a taxi to say that the mechanics had slept in, too, and hadn’t got started yet. He left again to return to the shop, assuring only a slight delay, and I waited at the hotel.
Three hours later, at 11:30, Benji and Oliver finally materialized with the car—it had been leaking power steering fluid, they said, and the mechanics had had to find a part to fix it. We packed up and headed out. Fifteen minutes down the road, the rear brakes seized up (as they did day before yesterday) and Oliver steered the vehicle into a roadside shop to get someone to look at the brakes.
The car certainly has character! Benji borrowed it from a friend for this trip, for better or worse. The back doors open only from the inside; the speedometer is stuck at zero; someone has cut the airbags out (presumably for their resale value); the steering wheel is cocked a quarter turn left on straightaways; the windows don’t open unless manually pushed; and it climbs hills like a loaded semi. Trouble is, all this character cost us the entire day today. By the time we arrived at Bamenda this evening, it had been dark for three hours.
It was hard not to get frustrated, but some days are just gonna be write-offs. Before darkness fell, I asked if we could at least stop at a random spot along the highway to look for birds, and Benji and I spent half an hour wandering among some farms. Cameroon’s staggering natural diversity still beckons, and I hope we can pick things up the rest of this week.
New birds today: 4
Year list: 3410