Yesterday morning, Sunday, Adeline arrived with a taxi at 8:30. I
took what I needed for a baptism, and we headed out through the thin traffic.
Sunday morning is the fastest time to navigate Douala, many people take Sunday
off if they can. We drove to the eastern edge of Douala, turned left off the
Yaounde road and made our way to a swimming pool. Aline’s husband Christian had said this
would be a good place for a baptism. We waited for Christian, then walked
inside to talk to the manager, who was sitting at a table poolside eating an
omelet for breakfast.
We explained that we wished to use the pool for a baptism,
we needed ten minutes and we were willing pay him. We had arrived early, before
his clients would arrive so as not to be a bother. The pool was empty but was
He politely informed us that he couldn’t allow it. “My pool
must be open to all my clients, so I don’t allow anything religious or
political on the premises. If I let Christians baptize here, my Muslim clients
might not want to come any more. Even if no one but staff is here, the word
would spread. I don’t allow pollical parties to hold events here either. I’m
We asked if he had another suggestion. “Take the road across
the street, there is another swimming pool down there. You might be able to use
that one. So, we drove down the dirt road for half a mile or so and came to a
brand-new hotel. It appeared to have a pool on the roof. We walked in the lobby
and explained the situation to the manager. She agreed to let us use the pool.
So, we walked up four flights of stairs to the roof, and Adeline went to the restroom
to change clothes.
When she was ready, I asked God’s blessing on the ceremony,
and asked her if she accepted the covenant of baptism. When she said she did, I
asked her to step down into the pool. She went slowly and laughed nervously. She
said she had never been in a swimming pool before. I baptized her, then back on the deck, ask God
to grant her the gift of His Holy Spirit. As she dried off with a towel, I told
her an angel was writing her name in the book of life. She had a wonderfully
happy smile on her face.
On the way out, I paid the manager 5000 francs, about 8
dollars, for our use of the pool. Back in the taxi, we drove to the turn-off to their
home a few miles down the road. Then it was goodbye and until next time, and the
taxi driver took me back to the hotel.
Sévérin was waiting in the lobby. We went over some last-minute
paperwork. I thanked him for his help, and he said he was happy to do it. We
shook hands and said until next time.
I considered going down to the Wouri River for lunch, there
are a couple of picturesque restaurants on the banks that serve fresh fish. But
I’ve been there many times, and it’s not much fun without Marjolaine, so I stayed
at the hotel for lunch and worked until it was time to go to the airport.
I took the hotel shuttle at 9:00 pm, and started the process
of leaving Cameroon. The bureaucracy is just as bad leaving as arriving. My
bags were scanned before I was allowed to enter the airport lobby. I was
checked by a policewoman at the door to the check-in area. The Air France procedures
went quickly. The agent told me to go through all the emigration formalities
with my passport, then come back through it all to the Air France lounge, where
I could wait.
My suitcase checked in, and boarding pass in hand, I headed
toward the corridor leading to emigration. At a desk with two policemen,
I was stopped to show my boarding pass. I walk down the corridor to some other desks
where I had to fill out a departure card, just as I had filled one out on arrival.
Card in hand I got in line at emigration. The agent takes my passport and
boarding pass, takes my photo and electronic finger prints from my right hand.
She stamps the passport and waves me on. Fifty feet farther I reach another desk
where all my papers are checked again. I
tell the agent I’m going to the Air France lounge and he nods.
In the lounge there are snacks and beverages of various
sorts. I sit and connect to wifi and send a few messages and e-mails. When the
time comes, I head down toward the gate. The agent just past the emigration desk recognizes me and nods me through. There is long walk down un-airconditioned
corridors to the gate area. I reach the government security check, where I go
through a metal detector and have to take out my laptop, tablet and so on and
put them through a scanner. Two steps later and Air France security crew goes though
my rollaboard and shoulder bag by hand, quite thoroughly.
From there I move on to the gate agent, who scans my
boarding pass. It beeps and indicates I have been upgraded to premium economy,
a pleasant surprise. She pulls my luggage tag off the old boarding pass, and I
reach out to take it. She shakes her head, no she will stick in on the new
boarding pass. She hands the pass to me and I’m allowed to board the plane. But the
luggage tag didn’t make the switch. I hope the suitcase won’t be misrouted, I
won’t have the tag or the numbers.
It was a six and half hour flight to Paris, leaving at
midnight and arriving just before dawn in the same time zone. I slept two
hours. We are funneled into a security check, where we go through the same
verification, laptops, tablets and liquids out, empty pockets etc. When I get
recombobulated, I head up to the departure level and go to the lounge. I have a
glass of tomato juice with a dash of Worcestershire sauce (if you’ve never
tried that, you should, it’s delicious).
I had entered an award certificate into the Delta system which gave
me the right to a free upgrade to premium select, sort of a business class. But
the flight was overbooked and there were no seats, not even economy comfort, so
it was main cabin across the pond. The flight was smooth. I was seated next to
a young Lebanese woman who lives in the US now. We chatted about Lebanon and
her family members who were still there. I asked if any of them were affected
by the massive fertilizer explosion in Beirut in August 2020. She said no, “thank
God.” I slept two more hours more or less.
I had another layover in Detroit for a couple of hours, which
gave me time to clear customs and immigration. I was in line for an upgrade to
economy comfort, but it didn’t come through. There's something different about an African
boarding pass. In fact, though they scanned my boarding pass at the gate and
the green light came on, after I was seated, I saw a gate agent walking toward me. Upgrade? I hoped.
No, their system didn’t show me even being on the plane. It’s strange, but it’s
not the first time this has happened, a glitch in the matrix.
I was seated next to a stewardess who was deadheading home
to Dallas. She had just come from Tokyo. We swapped travel stories for a few
minutes, she was very pleasant.
Finally, I arrived in Dallas about 28 hours after starting
my trip. I arrived home at 8:00 pm to my wonderful Marjolaine. I will sleep
Thanks for following along and for your kind thought for my
safety and well-being. This was a challenging trip, but good results have come from it.
I don’t know yet when my next long trip will be.