The longest day of the year!
I hope you bear with me, today was a long one! First I rose at 4:00am. We had to be at the airport by 6:00. There we really sweat it out because we were over the weight limit, what would we leave? Some food? Maybe the gifts we brought? My PJays? Anything but the equipment! After much back and forth and scolding and repeating that something had to stay, the kind employees said they would try to get everything on but that we should call a friend (A friend? In N’djamena?) To pick up the extra bags, if it were not possible. Time to board, now I find out why all the fuss An 8 seated old, tiny winy, old, did I say old? A VERY OLD PLANE! We were in luck! Two passengers didn’t make it and our luggage took their place. Then, our pilots, who didn’t look like a day over 12, but to their credit it turned out to be a beautiful flight, the smoothest landing since L.A. Landing in Abeche started out a little rough, with 3 military helicopters landing right behind us. Later we went to wheel and deal a rental, where a man sitting on a large red rug in a little room negotiated the price of the SUV and our driver.
Finally we are on our way to the first camp. Gabe had never been here during the rainy season so he got stuck in dry riverbeds, this time they had water. Lots of water! There were trucks on both sides of the river waiting to see if the it would recede. We were not going to wait. Ali#2 (our driver is also named the same as our guide;Ali #1 ) drove to another part of the river, There a huge truck loaded with I don’t know what, was stuck in a humongous hole, with a dozen men trying to dig it out we couldn’t get around it. I started looking for a tree,where for sure I would have to sleep under for that night, because we weren’t going anywhere! Don’t ask me how but after thinking we would be there for hours if not days in 5 minutes they had the truck out! Before we started another big truck passed us and started to cross the river we stopped and waited to see their luck, a boy comes up to our car and motions that the water is up to his waist (he was tall), then I see the truck half way across and all of the sudden it drops about up to the windows! Ali didn’t hesitate he went right in, the other truck was stuck! I held my breath (literally). Then suddenly the other truck pulled out and we pulled to the right, fell in a bit but also pulled out. WOW I’m getting a Toyota!
The road to the camp was BUMPY! It’s a dirt road and there are many cows and goats just wandering, we also saw several camels, boy but this is remote! Gabe says this is about as far out and remote as you can go. Finally by noon we were at our first camp. To get into the camps also is a big production. There is a military man sitting under a palm palapa, with 10 other men sitting around him, he asks for our permits and reads every single word on all our documents while all the other men look at him and then look at us, this goes on for about 30 minutes and then just sits there as if he is trying to make up his mind whether he will let us in or not. Yes, he lets us in but just as we start to go to the car another man says we will have to go to his office and register, we do that and again another man says to follow him to his office. As all of this is happening a few children from the camp start coming toward the station. I cannot see them but I can hear the crowd getting bigger and everyone saying:ok,ok,ok,ok,ok,ok,ok,ok,ok……………We come out and there are about 60 children waiting for us. Even though I tried to be friendly and smile at first, It broke my heart to see them. I have seen poor, I’ve lived in Mexico half of my life, but I have never seen this before! Many of the smaller children had runny noses, also many had weird bumps on their skin some coughing, and all of them had rags not clothes. But as you can tell they were happy, happy to see us. For some reason they wanted to touch me. And they were smiling the biggest smiles. Leila is very beautiful and several of the boys very handsome and showing off their few words of English. As far as the camp, there are tents and shacks as far as the eye can see, and they have divided it into blocks. There is a constant fowl smell because in the middle of every cross path there is a hole that serves as a latrine. The sun just bears down and you only see a small tree here and there. We couldn’t stay long because we still had a way to go to get to the camp where we would set up and spend the next few nights. We started to make our way to the car we got in and they were asking us for books, pencils, balls, if they only could understand that I almost didn’t get to bring my pjay’s. It’s so hard to see that they have nothing and leaving them I felt this big emptiness a giant hole. HOW CAN WE HELP THEM?
Driving to our camp I was thinking why the indifference? Are some lives expendable? I saw my nieces and nephews (I don’t have children) in their faces. What if that were them? I just cannot believe that there are not enough of us to do something for these people!
I was exhausted and fell asleep right through the bumpiest ride of my life. And then we arrived at our camp. You have never seen bugs like this. LOT’S AND LOT’S of BUGS! But that’s another story.
Everybody keep safe and I’ll talk to you tomorrow. Amor y Paz, Connie.