Life in Ndjamena, Chad

Fishing on Chari River in Chad

Aside from a missed 6 am airport shuttle and a 500 yard dash down the terminal to reach my plane (last passenger on!), the flights to Chad went pretty smoothly. A quick layover in DC, one last slice of pizza, then a layover in Addis Ababa, a St George beer (8 am, y’all, that’s how I roll), and finally made it to Chad around 1 pm the next day. Of course I didn’t sleep on the plane and instead watched six movies.

My new home in Ndjamena

In our first month here we tried a few restaurants around town- according to the “Welcome to Ndjamena” handout we got, there are about 10 here in town- and had some pretty good food. Restaurant prices aren’t too bad, about $40 (or 20,000 CFA- Central African Francs) for the two of us. We tried a casual Lebanese place, a brick oven pizza place, and an upscale French restaurant- very good beef medallions with a yum sauce at that one. There is also a couple of Chinese restaurants, a couple of Chadian places, and I think another Lebanese cafe as well.

Time for dinner!

Grocery shopping, on the other hand, was not so successful. We visited 2 tiny little grocery stores- like the size of a small 7-11 back home- and spent about $50 at each one and came home with…. not much. No fresh fruits/veg, no fresh bread, no meat. Everyone here employs a maid 5 days a week (which costs about $110 a month) and gives the maid some money to go to the outdoor market to purchase fresh food. And they drive across the border to Cameroon and go shopping there.

Speaking of the weather, it’s hot all right, (this is Central Africa) but not quite as bad as Khartoum. It’s rainy season right now, so it rains- and I mean really rains- every afternoon around 4 pm and that really cools things off, so you can actually go for a jog in the evening or something. And someone told me that the weather gets pretty nice by late October. Although, along with the rains, comes the bugs. The week I arrived here was like BUG WEEK- you can hear them crunching on the driveway as you drive up to the house. If you accidentally leave a light on inside when you open your front door- forget it; your front entryway will be COVERED with bugs drawn to the light.

The internet went out at our house Friday night, so no communications on Saturday or Sunday. I was really starting to panic by Monday afternoon, as I had a paper due in my grad class by midnight, so we went over to the Marine House and I used the computer there and we watched the Emmy’s on AFN. Ah, good old Armed Forces Network. Of course afterwards, we came home and our internet was working again.

Field Trip! to the Brasserie du Tchad, where they make Gala beer

Tuesday was a better day- I worked on my classwork a while, got all caught up, read all the requirements for my Capstone week- please, oh please let the internet work that week- and then I visited the doctor at the Embassy (he gave me some malaria pills- in 8 years I have never taken malaria pills but maybe this year I will start)- visited the CLO and her library (ooh, books and DVDs- perfect!), and finally met with the Public Affairs Officer who may have a job for me. Looks like that will all get decided soon (inshallah).

We went to a security briefing- since Chad is not nearly as strictly Muslim as Sudan was, I have to worry less about being stoned to death for not being married to my partner. However, since there is Boko Haram activity nearby, I do have to worry more about kidnappings. According to the embassy, I’m not allowed to take a taxi, ride a public bus, or walk anywhere. However, since I don’t actually work for the embassy, at least not yet, I’m also not supposed to have an embassy driver take me anywhere. It’s a bit confusing.

Chris and I went to the 531 club (5:31pm, get it?) and had happy hour with folks from the embassy. I met some more people and I’m invited to French Conversation lesson tomorrow with Mrs. B, the ambassador’s wife, who is also from Dallas…. there’s tennis lessons at the French Rec center….. yoga at the Esso oil compound….possibly reorganizing the now defunct Ndjamena Hash House Harriers….. there’s a play being put on tomorrow that we’re supposed to go to, a reception on Thursday night for the new political affairs officer, and a goodbye party on Friday night for someone that is leaving here. Mia Farrow is coming to visit Chad soon for some charity work and there will be an event welcoming her to the area. So…. hopefully between my class and getting a job (hoping to talk to Esso oil people this week, see if they have any openings- they pay big bucks), plus lots of extra curriculars, our time won’t be too hard here. And Chris is going to Germany in November, so there is a possibility I could go along for a little R&R. We’ll see how it goes!