I arrived in Chad this past Saturday afternoon, and it’s been a bit of whirlwind transition. I spent the last couple days getting my housing situation sorted out (more complicated than expected), my internet account connected (took much longer than expected), beginning to learn how to live and survive in 110F heat without air conditioning (more difficult than expected), and meeting local people (far more friendly and welcoming than expected– a huge blessing!). Within my first few days, I gained a new and profound respect for several things:
1. The highly-refined survival skills of anyone native to the Sahel. Despite brutal heat, I have met so many Chadians who have greeted me with genuinely radiant smiles and warm hand shakes. I am blessed to be here and to meet these genuinely welcoming people!
2. The difficulty of being productive in an environment filled with intense heat, dusty air, and intermittent electricity. I had always heard that things happened more slowly in Africa. I now know first hand why. I find myself walking and moving in slow motion during the heat of the day, searching for the most efficient line between shady areas, and unable to do much but lie down when the mercury soars to 110F / 43C. Although I don’t have A/C, I’m extremely grateful for the fans in my small apartment.
3. Those who are committed to this land and these people out of a higher calling. I have met dozens of expats who are committed to helping and serving and living with the Chadian people. I am truly inspired!
Another notable observation: during my short walks around the compound where I am staying and around the local neighborhood, I have observed countless multi-colored lizards (many are 16-18 inches long), African finches in the trees outside my window, and huge beetles and bugs. The birds are pleasant distractions, the beetles are fascinating, and the lizards provide comic relief when I see them wrestling and chasing each other. We certainly don’t have such exotic wildlife in the Boston metro area!
More to follow later and hopefully I will add photos with my next post. I am working to get a government permit for photography-- they already rejected my first request. Perseverence is key here. I'm eager to hear from everyone else as you start your internships this summer!