It is strange that Charles De Gaulle Airport in Paris now feels so familiar. I have been here five times. The plane was full of American tourists, excited about going to see the tower, the arch, and as much as their devalued dollars can get them to. For me, all I know is the airport.
I did get rest and relax for a few hours at a Paris hotel, after being evacuated from Chad to Gabon and then to here last February. You have no idea how good it felt to take a shower, rest in a bed, and eat some really good food. It’s not like we had spent months or even weeks in danger and discomfort. It was only a few days, but the exhaling relaxation that I felt when getting to Paris was huge.
This “returning” feels a little like the first time I went to Chad and the refugee camps. There’s unknowns, both about the country and about myself. The coup that hit the city in February destroyed buildings and lives. It got close to us, but we got out. I’m not sure how it’s going to feel being back at Le Meridien Hotel, where bullets were flying the last time we were there. The refugees out in the east have continued to experience so much instability and uncertainty. We will have to be flexible and ready to adapt to the situation on the ground, as we work through our “mission” of daily webcasts, journals, and connecting communities from one side of the world to the other.
For now, I’m comfortably sitting at this same Paris airport, where for the fifth time I’m drinking my last diet soda before flying out to Chad.