We are in the little village of Kou Kou, Eastern Chad, and we have to get to the Goz Beida airport early Monday morning for our flight back to the capital. We have an armed escort arranged for the 40 minute drive scheduled for 7am. Our car will pick us up at 6:40, so we can meet the armed escort truck on time. We’re up early and hurry to make sure we’re packed and ready, standing in the driveway.
We wait. The car does not arrive until after 7, so we get in and the driver hurries to the meeting point. The armed escort is not ready, so we wait. The truck with its four armed men arrives closer to 8am. Another SUV will also be a part of the convoy. The truck with the weapons takes off at full speed, leaving nothing but a cloud of dirt. After a few minutes, when we get outside of Kou Kou and start on the newly fixed dirt road, we are right behind the SUV, but the truck is out of sight.
After about 20 minutes of driving behind the SUV, we see the truck stopped ahead of us, with the men with weapons getting down. The SUV and our car stop right next to them. The biggest guy comes over between our two cars, carrying his AK47, and starts yelling at the driver of the SUV. If he did not have an AK47, he would still be very intimidating. He gestures wildly with his hands, pointing to the road behind us. He then turns to our driver and says something that I interpret to be, “You follow behind us, and keep up!”
The truck takes off again full-speed, with two guys with guns standing on the back bed, leaning one way and then the other—surfing their way through eastern Chad. Our driver steps hard on the pedal, hurrying to “keep up!” with the armed guys. The truck starts to gain some distance between us, and our driver looks stressed but focused. He pushes his old car as hard as he can. Meanwhile, Sara-Christine and I watch this through the windshield as if it was a movie, but knowing that any bad bump could throw the car out of control. We later tell each other how we envisioned our car rolling over and over—just like in the movies.
I don’t blame the driver, though. He has to try to keep up! Thankfully, I start to see the familiar hills that surround Goz Beida, so I know that the airport is close. We made great time! It took less than half an hour. We get to the airport with perfect timing. Then we wait. The plane is late, so we sit for almost two hours.
Who wants to come out here with us?