HOVERING IN EARTH’S OVEN: Explorations in Cameroon

Our expedited visa service was apparently going to take 10 days, but we didn’t have 10 days. My calls to the Cameroon embassy were beginning to resemble a hellish mix of customer service calls to the U.S. Postal Service and a cable provider: hours on hold sprinkled with various takes on absolutely not. I got on a plane to Washington D.C. to see if I could make a case in person. A Hail Mary with flights three days out. Filmmaker and fishing guide Jako Lucas had invited me to explore a Nile perch fishery being developed by African Waters (formerly known as Tourette Fishing) in the north-central panhandle of Cameroon. Exploratory trips had taken giants on flies, some well over 100 pounds. The trick was to get there. 

It was snowing when I landed at Dulles International in mid-February, a pretty setting for a swamp with big buildings. The next day the government was closed. Snow day. The Cameroon embassy was going to savor it. No shoveled walkways and no open doors. I stayed another night and arrived at the embassy one minute after it opened. Several hours later, when the D.C. police had to intervene with a woman trying to go home for a funeral—she claimed the embassy had lost her passport—I gave up. It was not the day to ask for special treatment to go flyfishing. We pushed the trip back.

Our visas arrived eventually in FedEx envelopes, barely in time even with the delay, and looked like something I could have printed myself on an old desktop computer…

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