Sunday, January 6, 2008

Chad

Wow. What a new world. And I thought Senegal was a big change.

I had been nervous ever since I left Egypt about how the trip would go and what it would be like to deal with Chadian authorities. In the end, it went without problems. I'm in the hotel stealing wireless internet from somewhere. I mostly feel safe. Still I have my money divided in four places, I sleep with my passport under my pillow, I wear a pouch under my clothes everywhere I go.

I took off all jewellery other than my watch. I wear long sleeves and pants. They tell you not to go out with a purse. But at the same time, you don’t want to leave all valuables at the hotel. At the same time, you need to have your documents with you at all times – travel authorization, passport, etc. So, I spend a lot of time deciding how I’m going to proceed.

N’djamena, the capital of Chad, is totally different than Senegal. The streets are bare. The city is small and has the feel of an abandoned place. You can’t find newspapers on Sundays. The state television only airs six hours a day. It’s almost impossible to find someone selling a quick bite on the street the way you would in Senegal.

In one of the world’s poorest countries, hotels cost more than $100 a night – because there is simply nothing in this country and outsiders have no choice. Internet at the hotel: more than 60 cents a minute – because of its rarity. (By comparison, in Senegal it was 60 cents an hour because it is so common and widespread). The television cuts out every now and then.

In Abéché, in the east of the country, where most of the NGOs have their offices and where many of the Sudanese refugees and displaced Chadians live, there is a 9pm curfew, but most everyone tries to get home before nightfall at 6 or 7pm. Most homes have no internet, so you can imagine what kind of a life it is – from 6pm til bedtime, without going out or going on the internet! Here in the capital, l've spent the whole day trying to figure out what to do with myself, without knowing anyone, with no internet (until I found this lucky connection), and without wanting to wander around the city alone. Definately should have brought a book!

I head to the office tomorrow, and that's when things will really start happening.

Talk to you soon, I hope!

2 comments:

Salooly said...

hey love,

all i can say is that i truly respect you cuz there aint no way in hell i'd do what you're doing! girl, you know how much i love my world of systems and order?? lol...

come home safely!
miss ya!

Erin/Kristina said...

Yaboob I am so glad things are going well..."keep your wits about you" as eddy would say, even when you feel relatively safe!! Am really excited to hear what things you accomplish there. It definitely made me reflect on how comfortable I've become here in this corner of Africa...feeling totally safe walking around alone, at night, in Lomé, with my purse over my shoulder, eating in cafés full of men...it's really quite chilled and peaceful here by comparison with other places. On the other hand, cheesecakes and milkshakes?? I'm counting the days :)