Here are a few more notes from my knee board from my last flying assignment in Chad. It was my 9th assignment there but my first time during the rainy season and this year it seemed to be a really wet one.
Incredible, after several hundred miles of desert I spot some 8000ft below me fresh water, no plant life visible. Amazing!
I land in Faya Largeau, a desert out post, an oasis of greens and golden roads, it has an old and very large tarmac runway built by the military once upon a time, laid forever on the on desert lands. The French military occupy an amazing fort that looks like a Beau Geste film set, with the possibility of Gary Cooper about to enter screen right at any moment! The deserts sands are so so beautiful, so soft and the aureolus grains tumble through the fingers like water. The date palms know where the life giving water is and it is they that have helped establish this rocky green Island in the desert ocean where the crystal clear liquid freely breaks through to the surface providing a safe haven for all and sundry from the crippling effects of the fierce sun but the sandy tide is eager to swamp and engulf the town. Probably half the buildings are already submerged under tons of sand and many a 30ft palm has only the top 15ft showing! The old prison, guillotine block stands as a reminder of days past, I reluctantly use this old photo of myself in 2007 below (all the rest are from a few months ago) but the arch makes the point rather well ...
In another oasis we find some amazing carvings on the sandstone showing Ostriches, cattle, elephants and a Cheetah. Just below FC's hand. None of which can be found probably within over 400 miles of here. The desert has claimed much territory for it's own. As an aside there is a story about the bearded bod, so you best see slightly earlier blogg.
Gateau de Semoule, Salmon riz legumes and Tajine d'agneau, the french military rations are tres bon. Cooking a Le Bistro meal under the milky way in Simon and Anju's small rough court-yard was alot of fun. These are two amazing young Swiss folk who are running a langauge centre just down the road from Le bistro! A mere 6 nights & 7 days drive from the capital or about 1700km, though only 5 hours by Caravan, when I say Caravan I mean 208 rather than Camel!
Their job description must be very varied as we
brought up a simple but rather clever life saving
device that passes an electric current through a snake
or scorpion bite. Here Simon is treating a delightful
localman who was stung by a scorpion that he had
thought was a mouse! These guys are incredibly
tough by our standards and so to say this sting
hurts is an understatement. The treatment made a
dramatic difference and it was the fourth person in
the one week they had had the device that
they had treated. The sting often reduces people to
unconscious and in Faya will often kill their victims.
It reminded me of a previous trip in Chad when I had an unexpected night stop and I was able to buy a 1.5 litre bottle of water and a pack of sour cream pringles for my evening meal, a balanced diet!
Here is one of our smaller pilots Jim Le Huray with David, his wife a medical Dr and small girls and their home school teacher and a nurse. They have work for Cooperation Service International have been in Ati 4 years. They are typical of the sort of people we fly, enthusiastic warm hearted and eager to make a difference to the people they work alongside. Rather like this quote David made “MAF has been a huge blessing to us, it’s been a life line to our work out here. Especially during the rains when they are the only way to get food and medicine and to get us in and out of our home and for work, we are thankful for the partnership. We have worked with about 6 different pilots over this period and just want to thank-you as they have been a huge blessing to our work both professionally and personally”
Whilst waiting for the weather to clear in N'djamena I had a chance to do a spot of weeding! I have pounded grain, dug ditches, shot bows and arrows, seldom can one call 'Flying for Life' with MAF dull!
It was hot, the ground was thirsty despite the rain, the people grinned. Mother seemed happy to have 5 mins break as I snapped the weeds and we laughed together. For me it was fun and a photo, for them it was a lively hood and a full stomach.