Saturday, February 20, 2010

Driving Up North to Cap Esterias

We recently took a drive up to Cap Esterias about 30K (1 hour) north of the city. Drive 15 minutes outside of the city and you are literally in the middle of nowhere. The paved roads that you saw in previous blogs turn into an old logging road that that takes you north through the jungle. On the map, it is demarcated like a reality, it is an old dirt road that probably used to be paved 10 years ago. We are traveling with someone who has been here before, so we are not worried that none of the routes have signs or markings.
Navigating Gabon works like this, “did we pass an old radio tower back there, I think we make a left soon; no, not that left, I did that the last time and it’s the wrong way, take the next left.” None of the streets, even in the city, have markings. Directions are given by landmark, as long as the jungle doesn't grow over it.

Cap Esterias is not so much a town, but an area. The locals fish and farm for a living. The Chinese are supposed to build a deep water port here, but a lot of infrastructure needs to happen first (how about a road?). When we turn off of the logging road it becomes a twisting mud path that you take for about 10K out to the ocean. With all of the mud and the hilly terrain it would be impossible to navigate without 4WD. We pass by a few local homes, which are old concrete structures without glass in the windows; no electricity or water and lots of hanging laundry.

When we get to the ocean, there are a number of old unfinished homes and some foundations along the cliffs. All have unbelievable views overlooking the ocean. These homes were either started by families with some means who were (still are) waiting for a road to be built, or put up by loggers who needed a small home near the beach where its cooler while they decimate the area.

The beach is very wild and beautiful. We climb down from the cliffs and drag our gear over the rocky parts of the shore until we find a sandy spot. The ocean is warm, a little rough, but with a clean sandy bottom.
A beautiful day at the beach.

When we arrived, there was one local man with a pack of straggly dogs cutting back the bush around his home. As we pack it up he comes over…”Je suis votre guardian”…he is letting us know that he was watching the car, which is normal. Even though no one is around, we give him a few CFA for his troubles…he has to earn a living somehow.

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