Much like your local Greyhound station, car parks are where the weird gather to travel in Cameroon. Unfortunately, seeing as most
Cameroonians do not own cars but do need to travel on occasion, this includes a whole mess of people. On any given day car parks can be packed with tens, if not hundreds, of people, all vying for a spot on the hunks of steel held together with twine that pass for buses in this part of the world. The park can be tricky, a real bamboozler, if you’re not familiar with how it works. For your convenience, I’ve whipped up a few tips and tricks for hacking it at the local leavin’ spot.
1. Avoid eye contact. There will be plenty of eyes on you, akin to a sniper’s laser point tracking your every move, and they’re all just waiting for you to glance their way, giving the ‘go-ahead’ for a conversation.
2. Bring a book. You might not actually read it, but sometimes just staring at a page for an hour or two is a welcome respite from staring at people or trees for an hour or two.
3. Ask the day before what your arrival time at the park should be. Then, arrive between two and three hours after that given time to guarantee you’ll be the first person to book your ticket for the day.
4. Speaking the local dialect or exclaiming in the patois about the ticket’s expense at the ticket teller’s window can and will get you preferential seating on the bus, should seating be assigned.
5. Should seating not be assigned, practice ‘throwing bows’ the night before your travel. Akimbo stance and unpredictable/jerky movements work wonders for making your way to the bus’s entrance in a timely manner.
6. Consider shopping for your fresh produce and other grocery list items at the park to save both time and money. Your fresh and ready choices include but are not limited to: puff puff, bread, eggs (omelets and hard-boiled), ovaltine, oranges, apples, cabbage, palm wine, avocados, corn, beans, cookies, crackers, tomatoes, onions, sachets, garlic, passion fruit, fish, carrots, bananas, pineapple and plantains. No need to seek these people out: they’ll find you.
7. Wars on buses have been won and lost over butt-cheek placement. Rehearse a solid-bun stance before your travels to sharpen your space-jockeying skills on bumpy and long rides. Remember to clench on turns!
8. A charged iPod ensures the ability to feign ignorance as other people on the bus spend the entire ride talking about you.
9. Repeat after me: My husband? Yeah, he’s on his way here right now. Seriously, he should be here any minute.
10. Thanks to the park’s possession of only one cd (combined with your 4+ hour wait time) there will never be a better opportunity to brush up on your P-square lyrics. Obvious knowledge of the lyrics to ‘Chop my Money’ may earn you free food.
11. Anytime is a fine time for peeing at the car park. Aim for a place that’ll expose the fewest amounts of people to your giant, white ass.
12. Chose your outfit carefully. While skirts are great for potty breaks, pants allow you the freedom to climb in or out of close-by windows when people are taking too long to unload.
13. Should you be pressured to give out your digits, capitulation may be your best option. Insist they call you immediately. Ask how to spell their name while actually saving their number under ‘Do Not Answer’.
14. ‘Dead Eyes’ are you new best friend. If you can’t shake them off by ignoring them, telling them to go away, or warning of your spouse’s impending arrival, break out the thousand-yard-stare. Pay no mind to accusations of spiritual possession or mental illness. Soon everyone at the car park will be giving you plenty of space.