23 March 2009
We took a way-too-expensive taxi ride from our hotel to UNHCR headquarters this morning. The ride takes you down the busiest boulevard in N’Djamena, with cars honking everywhere, motorbikes weaving in and out, and pedestrians risking their lives—all on the same strip of pavement. Between the sand filled wind and the thick smell of gasoline, the air in this city is palpable.
As usual, the people at UNHCR are welcoming and helpful. Mans, External Relations, received us at his office and is working on our permits, and Marco, new Reporting Officer in Abeche, sent me a not saying that everything is ready for us in the East. I have been coming long enough that almost all staff positions have turned over more than once, with the exception of a few nationals. What has been so nice on this trip is that it is not only current staff that is helpful and encouraging! Suzanne, all the way from Tbilisi, has been advising us on this first phase of our trip. I also received a nice message from Ann, who would always take care of us here in the capital, all the way from Tunisia.
Also as usual, there are rumblings of war here. The Chadian rebels have grown stronger and are waiting inside of Sudan for their next try at bringing down the president. We’ve been here during the last two major rebel movements, and I just hope they don’t wait for us to start causing havoc. Just in case, sshhh, nobody tell them we’re here!
We are still not sure (again, as usual) whether we will have all our paperwork and be on the manifest to leave to the east tomorrow morning. We work all the angles we can, and then we pray to Chad that everything falls in to place.