It feels just a bit unreal to be sitting here in N’djamena, Chad. The hotel is next to a dark water lake, where you can see fishermen on their boats and, on the shores, farmers taking care of their tiny fields. On the other side of the lake, there are huts that seem to be made out of the same dirt on which they stand. It’s a beautifully calm scene, in a country we know is going through a less than calm period.
We are far from roughing it, here within the hotel fences. As I had been warned, there is a lot of waiting to be done in some parts of Africa, the same as in some places in my Mexico, which some call the land of “manana.”
We have many things we need to get done, so we get to the camps. Dr. F, an optometrist that doubles as a travel agency owner, will help us with our permit to travel into the interior of Chad. We are also waiting for E, from the same organization for which JC works. JC, who’s a graduate from UCLA and I met at a Darfur vigil we organized in July, has been instrumental in getting us information and connected. She’s currently working out of Abeche, at two of the camps in that area. I can’t wait to see her in person and thank her, and, when that happens, it will mean that I will be closer to the camps. E is going to help us with lodging at their guest house, so that we don’t have to pay the extremely expensive prices hotels charge here.
Chris and I are also very interested in learning about the effect that this mass refugee crisis has had on the people of Chad and how they have dealt with it. We’ll explore this here in N’djamena and in Abeche.
Oh, I forgot to tell you. Our satellite phone stayed in Paris. By luck, someone from Air France had already sent an e-mail to Chris, saying that they found the phone at the AF Salon. Chris’ wife, Dana, in what we now see as an incredibly wise move for which we will thank her for time to come, wrote Chris’ name and e-mail on hte little bag that holds the phone. Now we need more luck in getting AF to put the phone on the next flight not N’djamena.