Second Road Trip to the middle of Chad
Sept 25, 2012
Jim and Judy’s most excellent adventure, continues.  We were able to fly on a United Nations World Food Program flight. It was a 35 seat, twin engine turboprop, built for dirt strips. The above photo is looking south as we fly east towards Abeche, Chad.
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Here we are 3 hours after takeoff, coming in for landing. Abeche has some water around it now and looks nicely green.
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A very nice looking complex just at the end of the runway. No idea what it is. Do any of you know?
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 We made one more stop in Ati on our way to Mongo. This was as we took off. The sun setting in the West. A cool rainy season river that will disappear in the dry season.  We landed in Mongo just after sunset. Sorry no pictures. This is a dirt strip, with no runway lighting. The airport does have a truck they drive down to the end of the runway and shine its lights towards the aircraft. The aircraft did have some heavy duty lights, so they took off in the dark, no problem. I love it!
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The streets of Mongo the next morning. The day we arrived the SIL generator stopped working. What timing. It took me about two hours to get it back up and running. The water pump had stopped pumping and took me about an hour to repair. Some 12 vdc lamp fixtures had stopped working, another hour and a car tail light had got smashed, a hour repair. So we got a bright and early 2:00PM departure to Melfe, our primary destination.
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SIL office in Mongo. Those are SIL publications in some of the local languages spoken in the area. We always include literacy classes in all of our language work. Many of these books are very basic beginner reading books. Did you know that children of literate mothers have a 50% better chance of surviving past the age of 5?
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We made the long trip to the town of Melfe about 300 kilometers southwest of Mongo in about 6 hours. This is Rineke a new translator we came to help. Melfi is at end of the road village surrounded by mountains. The language group she is working with is Sokoro. It’s main Sokoro village is located another 12 kilometer walk through a mountain pass. Melfi is a bigger town and a good location for her to get started in this important work. The baby is the local pastors. Judy got her baby fix!
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Entry to Rineke’s one room home. Visiting is done just outside the green door on the mat. You always remove your shoes or flip flops and sit down on the mat. Lots of visits and drinking tea take place there all times of the day.
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Our main reason for coming is to install a solar electric system. This one room building is her office. It’s just 20 steps from her front door.
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Rineke bought a used system from another family. Three panels mounted to a frame, a charge controller, inverter and a whole lotta used wiring. It was a challenge; but doable.
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We put the panels up first and dropped the wire to the battery charge controller area. Here I was building up a small electric board.
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Did I say this was the first solar installation I’ve ever done?
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I took a solar electric class a few years back. But class or not, I did manage to fry the little SunSaver-20 charge controller. You always feel bad when you do something stupid that will inconvenience someone else.  These controllers are not available in Chad, but are readily available in the USA for about $90 on Amazon.com. So, I’ll get her a new one and reinstall it in December / Jannuary.
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The downtown Melfe shopping mall.
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The gas/diesel service station owner was happy to get his photo taken. For some reason most Chadians don’t like to smile for photos. But they are always smiling when talking to you.
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This is how one gets their fuel tank filled.  About 20 liters (5 gal.) at a time filtered through a cloth.
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The pathway to Rineke’s home.
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The guest quarters where Judy and I stayed for three nights. Veggie garden surrounded us.
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The adjoining common area squatty potty. I recently learned these are also called long drop toilets. (love these names) Its a little hard to see, but there is a rise on both sides of the four inch hole. Your feet are placed on the rise, with the hole directly between them, you drop your drawers, squat down and hope you hit the hole. You bring a small bucket a water with you in case you miss. It takes some practice to get it right!
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The local pastors wife brought us several meals. Food is almost always shared on a common plate / bowl, with everyone sitting on the mat around it. The right hand is used for clean hand activities like eating and greeting. This is our first millet boule meal; a staple food of Chad.
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These are clay water pots. The one on the right is for drinking water and one on the left is the refrigerator. As the clay walls soak up the water the evaporation causes cooling on the clay walls. It will drop the temperature about ten degrees inside. The bucket and bowl under them collect the drips that don’t evaporate which is used for hand washing when visitors arrive. No, we don’t normally drink from these pots. We use special filters to catch all the little bugs that can cause us great harm.
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This is her new solar electric 12vdc refrigerator. It worked great until I fried the charge controller. But, she wasn’t too concerned because she was planning to be gone for the next two months and maybe I’ll have the new part by then.
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The pastors wife and child. She was so gracious to us foreigners.
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Judy and Jim in front of their garden guest house.
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Driving back to N’Djamena. They really like goats and sheep here. We learned how to tell the difference at a glance. Sheep’s tails droop and goat’s tails stick up in the air.
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We were driving a 70 series Toyota hardtop. It belongs to the Mongo SIL office and we were driving it to N’Djamena to get some maintenance issues fixed.
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Judy didn’t mind the ride at all. This is one of the most durable and reliable vehicles ever made. They do cost a bit, but the harsh roads of Africa is what it was designed for.
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One of many water crossings.
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One of the slippery, muddy sections. When we hit this section a few days earlier it had already gotten dark. We ended up getting sideways. Fun for me; scary for the passengers. But we drove out OK.
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I teach a 4X4 driving class here in Chad. One of the things I tell the students is to be sure there are tire tracks coming out the other side, before entering.  You’d hate to run into a submerged vehicle out in the middle of nowhere.
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Rough road, a bag had shifted and bounced off and its now getting tied back on. This was a 4X4 road, but just sections were challenging with pot holes, rain ruts, washouts, water hazards, mud hazards, rock hazards, animals hazards, people hazards and broken down vehicles. When night falls, it magnifies all the challenges by about 100%. What a blast!
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Camels hanging out on the sides of the road. They belong to the local nomads camping just down the road. Can any of you tell me what kind of camel this is? It has a single hump.
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We were driving this section of the trip with another Toyota Hardtop. We both had several additional riders we were dropping off along the way. One of ours was a five month pregnant woman having complications and needing to get to the medical services of the capital city, N’Djamena. She got car sick about ten minutes into the ten hour trip. This was one of our several stops for her to get out and lay down for a bit, before continuing on.
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This was an interesting spot. We did not get stuck here. But the other Toyota we were with did.  We missed the excitement too as we were taking a rest for our pregnant lady. So, by the time we got here, they had already unloaded all the eight people and pushed it on through. It was not the drivers fault. Those lallygagging cows didn’t jump out of the way like they normally do. The driver had to stop momentarily so they got stuck in the sand.
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This is Judy in her thinking pose, as our poor car sick pregnant lady said she just wouldn’t get back in the car. She said she just wanted to die right there.  We could go on and her family would send somebody to pick up her body. Now I could make a general statement about over-dramatization, but it wouldn’t be nice. She was pregnant and having problems. She was scared stiff, stuck in a car with total strangers, going someplace she may have never been and had an extreme case of motion-sickness. We felt for her; would not abandon her. Right about then our other car pulled up. They commented that we had spent 4 hours doing a 2 hour trip. If our pregnant passenger stayed with us it could stretch a 10 hour trip into a 20 hour trip. They said they would take her to the nearest clinic and see what could be done for her. We were free to get going.  We took them up on it.
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Lots more great views of the country side.
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We finally get to the pavement and big trucks, who seem to like the middle of the road. Often these trucks will have people sitting on top of them, as they barrel down the road at 70 MPH. Directly on top of the cab seems to be a prime spot. There are no bridges to go under here. None, in the whole country, yet. So no height restrictions.
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This photo is not clear enough, but this is a VW truck. The little round dot on the tailgate says VW. Only one I’ve seen in the country. I’m a long time VW fan. It was good to see they are just as abused here as all the other trucks. Yeah VW!
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Night is approaching and we stop to do some business on the side of the road. Two more hours till our destination. One more short story. We did get stopped at a military check point a little further on. I hate getting stopped at night, its so hard to see who it really is. It appeared to be a routine search for guns, ammo and armament, 2 minutes and we were good to go. No more good photos after this. It was a great trip, except for frying her charge controller. You’ll have to do it again with us sometime. I’m sure it won’t be too long till the next most excellent adventure. Thanks again for thinking of us.
 
(Answer to the camel question is…dromedary)
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Author: jimjudywycliffejourney

Jim and Judy have been with Wycliffe since 1984. They have served in aviation maintenance/management, motorcycle training, recruitment, and facilities maintenance in the US and Africa. They have recently been assigned to a new role in the America's Area, North Region, Scripture Access services team. They will be crisscrossing the USA in a very strategic method making face to face encounters with churches, ministries, Native American communities, Diaspora communities, refugee aid organizations, and individuals, introducing them to www.scriptureearth.org. Through this website, non-English speakers can access scriptures and other resources in their mother tongue language. Would you consider becoming a part of their Wycliffe ministry partnership team? You can join their prayer or financial team by clicking on https://www.wycliffe.org/partner/JimandJudyMcCabe

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