G’s Journal–Day 2 – 24 March 2009 – N’Djamena
We woke up to find the city enveloped by a strange fog. NDJ already has an eerie feeling to it, and the fog just adds some mystery and unease to the experience. It’s not the kind of fog we get in Redondo Beach coming from the Pacific Ocean. NDJ’s fog is a combination of smoke, pollution, and lots of sand.
We had to drive through this sand to UNHCR offices, after hearing the great news that our permits were ready. We took one of the taxis that sit outside the hotel, and this one was just a bit more rundown the others. It sputtered in to motion, and this was not very comforting.
To make it to UNHCR, we have to drive past the presidential palace, a long, long wall with serious looking guards holding their weapons at the ready. We have heard from NGO workers that they all together avoid that road because if a vehicle stops there for any reason, the guards become extra protective and take the initiative to fire their weapons and ask questions later. Given the many attempts by all kinds of factions to try to bring down the president of Chad, it is not all surprising that they are vigilant in protecting the center of power.
For us in our hiccupping car, which felt ready to die at any moment, those minutes driving past that long wall felt like hours. As you can see (from me being able to write about this), we made it back intact, and with our permits!
We now are hoping for a clearing of the fog, so that our plane can take off tomorrow. There are other obstacles also, such as the shortage of fuel in Abeche. The French usually refuel these aid planes for their return, but now planes from NDJ must have enough fuel to go and come back, forcing half of the passengers off of each flight. Then, we’re not sure if there will be flights from Abeche to Goz Beida, where we go to next to make it to the camp, so we might have to drive that leg of our journey.
Could I have a collective crossing of fingers, please?