Like all good adventures, it started with a suspicious amount of good luck. The train left on time, we found our hostel without too much issue (considering it was our first time in Douala and it was midnight), we found a taxi driver who offered us a good deal on a depot to Edea, where there we found our driver to monkey island waiting for us. Quickly we drove around, buying copious amounts of fruit, gasoline, and bread, and then were on our way. Even with the rain, we made good time driving through the plantations of rubber trees that lined the road, pulling up to the shore where we were to catch the boat to the island only to find: there was no one there.
“Well his boat is there, so he must be around,” said our driver.
We scrambled back into the car to escape the downpour.
“What do we do?”
We tried calling, but there was no service.
“Maybe there is service over by that church?” suggested the driver.
But the service was not better there. Asking around, a villager told us to head down a muddy path towards the riverbank in order to find the best service.
Service was spotty to say the least, but finally a call from an unknown number came through.
“Hello? C’est vous, M. Bosco?”
Something was not right.
“Quand est-ce vous allez ici?”
And then it hit me:
Dieu Donné strikes again, but this time, it was not serendipitously. Realizing it was not Monsieur Bosco, I quickly excused myself and hung up. After a few more attempts, we resorted to a new strategy-asking the village if they had seem Monsieur Bosco. This proved to be difficult as most people were sleeping and avoiding the rain. But then…
“White people!” I shouted as a nice car drove by. What were the odds of a group of foreigners being here except for Monkey Island?
We ran after them.
Introductions made, we learned they were a group of French people who lived in Douala and, as we assumed, they were here also for Monkey Island.
Even better, the guy in charge of boating us to the island materialized soon after. As it turns out he’d been hiding in a nearby house to avoid the never-ending torrent of rain.
We waited a bit longer, but upon realizing the rain was not stopping (and we were already soaked) we decided to head out.
This started with him bailing water out of the motorboat:
We then loaded it up will all the buckets of fruit and bottles of gas we had brought and set off, with the rain pelting our faces.
Upon landing we entered a house with a woman and baby monkeys. A hand reached towards mine…which I shook and soon ended up carting Tomate around for the welcome speech (of which I remember little–there was an adorable monkey on me!).
The caretaker had lived there for many years and had a great relationship with the monkeys.
Then we got to feed and to play with the children.
We ended by visiting the islands, which house the teenagers and adults. Although we couldn’t go on the islands, they would come when M. Bosco called them each by name and would catch the fruit he threw at them.
Overall, it was worth the confusion, the drive, the rain (NOTE: the raindrops in the pictures are not some fancy filter, but the reality of the day) and the cold.
And you can read more about the organization below*:
(*If you understand French or Google-translated French)