3/29: 7 PM Local Time
Our plane landed at about 7 PM local time. Humidity was immediately apparently in the terminal, which was not fully enclosed. Ongoing construction meant the walls opened to the outdoors, hallways were dimly lit (if lit at all), and the floor was untiled with long stretches of uneven concrete.
We had to be careful to stay together as we made it through the immigration lines. Chaos grew with each checkpoint. At the baggage carousel, many "helpful" men insisted on helping with our luggage and pushing our baggage carts. As we went outside, the number of porters grew as each wanted a share of the expected tip. We had to firmly refuse several. Apparently, it's not uncommon for fights to break out as these porters vie for Western groups such as ours. At any time, there may be over 100 of these young men around the airport trying to earn some money.
Tragically, Cameroon is renowned for corruption (Google "Cameroon corruption" if you don't believe me.). As we were leaving the airport, the officials insisted that we open one of our boxes. From past experience, Darrell and others knew that this was the start of an attempt to collect 'duty'. The amount would depend largely on the value of the items in the box. They happened to choose the box with "Creation booklets" made by a group from FBCEG so we made it out the airport relatively unscathed. However, as our luggage was being loaded onto our bus, an official looking gentleman walked up and secured one of the tires with a boot. He demanded "motivation money" before allowing us to leave. "Welcome to Cameroon," I thought.
As we drove out of the airport, the grass field around the parking lot was dotted with many young men.
"What're they doing there," I asked.
Darrell replied, "They're probably university students here to study. This is one of the few public places with lights."