From the Paris to N’Djamena flight, I could start to feel a different, more relaxed vibe for the capital of Chad. The plane was full, as usual, but this time it was a very diverse crowd, with children, women, and even two Mexicans (me not included).
When we hit the ground, the more-relaxed-vibe was confirmed. The airport was alive at 9pm, and the guards did not have the steel-hard faces they usually have. The streets still looked the same, which means that you can really not look at them because of the darkness. Le Meridien felt different also. The bar was almost empty. The last time we were here, the hotel was, as KTJ says, a scene out of MASH, with military people in every corner, hooting it up in the bar, at the pool, and the lobby. This time, they were nowhere.
Yves and Olga, at the front desk, received us with smiles and gave us a room in the third floor, the room right next to the one we were in when the bullets started hitting the hotel in February. But, it all feels very different this time.
The next morning, Mubarak came with our permits. They were ready! We did not have to go with him. We did not have to sweat and shake hoping they’d be in our hands in time. Happy with the news, we asked Mubarak to give us a ride over to UNHCR, where Bryn told us that it looked good for us to be on a flight to Abeche in the morning. Smooth!
I hope it continues this way, smooth. After our last trip, the second time in a row that war breaks out, it’s important that we get to the camps and help the displaced Darfuri tell their stories. With the world focusing on playing in China, we want to play with the children in the camps and show that the victims are real, not just numbers.
See you from Abeche!