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Eastern Chad Cars, Planes, and Diners

We’re getting ready to leave Koukou and head up north to visit two other refugee camps. I have not been there in two years, and I’m looking forward to seeing old friends and making new ones. We will be launching the Darfur United Soccer Academy in those two camps. Right now, there are four men and four women sleeping in their homes made out of mud who cannot imagine that in just a few days they will be DUSA coaches and will be influencing the lives of thousands of children. Exciting!

First, we have to get there. We’ll be waking up around 4:30am to be ready for the car that will pick us up at 5am. Then it’s a forty-five minute bumpy drive to the Goz Beida airport, before the sun even rises. The GZB airport is a dirt runway. Before the small humanitarian planes land, an SUV will drive up and down the runway on a “goat run,” making sure there are not animals that might make for a tragic landing. In this area, there are many camels, so “camel run” might be more appropriate, and they’re much bigger than a goat.

Camp Kounoungou can be seen in the foreground.

Camp Kounoungou can be seen in the foreground.

We don’t fly directly to our next destination, Guereda. We have to make a stop in Abeche, a “bigger” town in eastern Chad. That usually means a wait of two hours of more at that small airport. There is actually a small airport facility in Abeche, with waiting rooms, restrooms, and a small drinks and sandwich shop.

For meals during our trips, we bring all the food that we will be eating. We have to be careful to not get sick, since our visits are relatively short, and we have so much to get accomplished. We cannot afford to get sick. Two trips ago, at the Abeche airport, we could not resist ordering an egg sandwich—one of the only things we feel is safe to eat. It is safe, as long as it’s the egg and the bread only. Nothing more.

We tried ordering that time. I asked Sara-Christine to order the sandwiches, since she speaks French, the official language of Chad. I told her to be very clear: bread and egg only, nothing more! She did, and the young man that was the cook said yes enthusiastically. Then, as we’re watching, he start putting all kinds of spreads and vegetables on them. And we’re: wait, wait, wait … are those ours!? Sara-Christine gets closer and again explains: BREAD – EGGS – ONLY – 3 sandwiches. Easy, right? He nods, yes. After a few minutes, he hands us four eggs AND tomato, AND mayo, AND some mysterious meat spread sandwiches—which we cannot eat. We were so hungry, so I ask her to try again; we’ll pay for the other sandwiches, and he can give them to someone else. Sara-Christine tries again, using hands and whole body-language to explain, EGG – BREAD – NOTHING MORE. He nods and smiles, yes! He makes an egg and tomato omelette, no bread.

We now all feel bad for the guy, but we are more hungry than sympathetic. We try again to explain—carefully. He seems to understand this time, and is about to begin. He stops and says: “We’re out of eggs.”

After eight days in Chad, I’m pretty tired of the food I brought. And I’m hungry. Tomorrow, in Abeche, I might just try ordering an egg sandwich. Wish me luck.


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