Roumsiki is a village.
People have said that Cameroon is a micro Africa, as it has a bit of every thing Africa has. So it is the best representation of this large continent. When we went to Waza National Park, we also spent one day driving from Maroua to Roumsiki to see this most northern part of Cameroon. Indeed this is a very different place, from geography to weather, from people to plants, everything is different! First of all, most people here are Moslems. Cameroon law presently allows each man to have four wives at one time. For Moslems, this is quite a restriction for a government to impose, while many other areas may feel that this is not fair to women. The weather here is like a desert region, hot in the day time, very cool at night. All vegetation does well when and wherever water is present. There is not a shortage of water that we could see; cotton, millet, onions, carrots and many fruits are produced in abundance. Cows and sheep are the main animals they raise.
The drive took us to some truly rugged area in the hills, with straw houses dotted along the road and some way above us on the ridges. It is the kind of scene that could be seen only in Africa. Our car stopped at a shaded well in the middle of a small village, and we were immediately surrounded by laughing women and children. They were as curious about us as we were about them. They wanted our pens or pencils for souvenirs. Unfortunately we did not bring nearly enough for that purpose. As we rode in the air conditioned car, we were all aware of the different lives they have in the villages, where water and wood must be carried into the family compound daily. But they seemed as happy as we were. They probably were wondering why on earth we would pack ourselves into a small space like the car and travel on that bumpy road under the hot sun.
Roumsiki is the only village that we have visited in Cameroon that has special "staged " demonstrations for tourists. It has a hut where a witch doctor tells fortunes using a crab in a jar, a clay house, an iron smith and some ancient weaving machines for making cloths. All were created for the "show" to raise funds for the village. Generally, you see very, very few things designed for tourists. We found, for example, that our map in the guide book is much better than what we can get from a Tourist Office. Generally, a Tourist Office does not provide any thing for free, they will have only a list of guides and/or porters for hire. We could not even buy post cards in these offices. By the way, the name Roumsiki comes from two words - "siki" is the name of the people who settled near the rock called "roum".
Maroua was the town we flew into and where we stayed during the three day northern excursion. The hotel Le Sahel was quite nice, with all the modern conveniences. We did visit the town's souvenir market a couple of times. There was a lot of bargaining in these stores. Janice hates to bargain, so she usually stayed out, while Steven and Tom did all the haggling! You know that you can never win such a game, the venders are always on the victory stand. Generally, things were selling for quite reasonable prices by Western standards. You just wanted to see how big a bargain you could get!