blog from chad

Chilly Willy Tomato Ketchup!

17 days in a small hotel in the middle of nowhere could have seemed a very long time but somehow it didn’t.  I whiled away my time at Coton-Club-Chad by reading, studying French online and writing this blog.  I threw in some floor pilates to keep fit and  of course  spent plenty of time chatting to the staff and other guests.   Carlo was meanwhile out in the bush measuring trees and our 4 x 4 vehicle went with him.  Marooned I was but it didn’t seem like it.  At this point in time no question who had the best deal.  I called this my ‘ wind down time’ as life had been rather hectic prior to us coming to Chad and so had our first week in N’Djamena.  Now the batteries were fully charged and I was ready for whatever came next.

I would have dearly loved to swim at the hotel but the pool wasn’t quite up to scratch.  The tennis court had seen better days and in fact Carlo and colleagues used it one day to set us their surveying equipment (nice flat surface).  There was a table tennis table but it lay on its side in some dark corner of the grounds.  None of this really mattered as the hotel seemed to be a base for transitory workers passing through on their way to the nearby oil camps.

50 shades of green .....

50 shades of green …..


Carlo's crew using the tennis court for work!

Carlo’s crew using the tennis court for work!

The hotel laundry service was excellent and everything came back immaculately folded and ironed, in spite of the rustic washing line.  Curious because we have been told never to dry out clothes outside because there is a rather nasty moth that likes to lay its eggs in the seams of fabric.  What happens next is not pleasant as the eggs hatch and little worms find their way into your flesh.  If you choose to dry clothes in the fresh air you need to iron the seams with a very hot iron.

Laundry service and our clothes drying fast in the hot sunshine

Laundry service and our clothes drying fast in the hot sunshine

Most of the staff seemed to come from neighbouring Cameroun and speaking to them they had come to Chad as there were more job opportunities.  Timothy, the gardener, spoke the most perfect English, probably better than I do.  The waitresses Mireille, Angela,  and Diane all spoke French and Arabic.

The entertaiment may have been limited but at the bar there was a television which had Eurosport so we were able to watch the final of the Australian Open tennis match.  Murray what happened to you?!  Not a very good photo but here it is below (remember you can double click on any photo to open it in a larger format.  Many were taken on the IPhone).


Watching Murray lose the Australian open tennis final

Watching Murray lose the Australian open tennis final

The other guests were an eclectic mix of black Africans and white foreign workers.  Most whites were working on the nearby oil project and others  were with Aid agencies – Medicin Sans Frontiers, the UN, Unicef, Red Cross, World Vision etc..  There were some amusing groups gathered in the bar each evening i.e. the Italian, the German, the Frenchman and the Spaniard who worked together and who socialised together each evening ….. their common language, English of course.  Each evening the bar area resembled a cyber cafe as most guests brought out their laptops and IPads.  It seemsCoton-Club-Chad has the best broadband reception in the town. It also has the only decent restaurant in Moundou.

That restaurant caused us many chuckles as during our stay as they regularly ran out of dishes. One of the staples, and a dish considered safe to eat by many, were the four varieties of pizza. and inevitably the day came when it was  ‘plus de pizza’ much to everyone’s dismay.  Next day they ran out of bottled water and local beer.  But to their credit, and I don’t know how they did it as Moundou doesn’t have supermarkets or similar, stocks were replenishes within 24 hours.  Impressive.  Our favourite dish was the local fish called le capitaine and that was always in good supply.  It became ‘shall we have capitaine brochette today, or maybe capitaine meniere (heavily laced with garlic and parley),  or filet de capitaine, or a whole capitaine?’.  The capitaine repertoire was the largest thing on the limited menu.  Only other decision was ‘with rice or chips’.

Our food and drinks bill at the end of 17 days was a mighty 401,000 Francs.  That equates to €613.  We skipped breakfast, had a one course lunch and one pizza and one local beer between us for dinner.  And of course we drank copious bottles of water @ €1.50 each.  On that basis, not cheap.  But nothing is cheap in Chad.  Prices are at least double what we are used to paying in France and most products are imported from France.

I grew very fond of Coton-Club-Chad.  It brought a breath of fresh air to this otherwise overly complicated life.  It had a simplicity and charm.  The riverside setting was calm and peaceful.  The staff were gentle, warm and friendly folk , not to mention the ever present,  affable and humorous manager, Monsieur Veau.  There were so many endearing eccentricities here but not least the bravado to serve tasty ‘Chilly Willy’ tomato ketchup ‘avec les frites’!

Le voila!

Le voila!



8 Responses to “Chilly Willy Tomato Ketchup!”

  1. Jackie kelly Says:

    Lovely so colourful stories! So glad you are having time to chill it sounds like a great adventure! So where wii you be next? Looking forward to the next instalment. Great bedtime reading! Love to you both Jackie and Luke xx

  2. Jackie kelly Says:

    Amazing stories and all so colourful! Glad you are having time to chill out and having such a great adventure! Can’t wait for our next instalment for our bedtime reading! Love to you both. Jackie and Luke xx

  3. jane and mike Says:

    Greetings from the north where life is truly unspectaclar cf with the colonials from Chad’Your accounts read brilliantly & raise a melange of wonder & smiles-a book is defimitely needed=could be a best seller.We loved the various descriptions of a la carte plus chilly willy & choice of fish As for the technical aspects of measuring a tree lying on the ground-good job Carlo studied for n years! As fror her indoors-we believe she deserves a bit of time off from the traveau at Cab-you may not want to return wot with all these sevents etc It’s certainly proving an experience,maybe you”ll be invited elsewhere in future-Caribbean for ex would be good,in which case,can we come & hold the tape measure for the maestro/.Here we are looking after 2 small people & can advise on playground technowledgy ( spellinng?) etc.We plan to leave here 3/3 eta Cab 10/3 & it will be good to return.Roger back on 21/2-as far as we know he isn’t married yet so watch this space. Sorry not much to report of interest but we have enjoyed the occasional bit of peace plus outings,walking,pubs etc but our store of wine is just about exhausted so have to return rather than buying here! Thankyou mucho for your writings great to receive & read & we anticipate unexpurgated detailed uncensored versions directly in due course.En attendant-keep up the great work & polishing up your french,Rosie.A bientot et gros bisous de nous ducks-Jane/Mike

  4. Maddy Says:

    Rosie! I love this blog. I feel I am there with you. I LOVE the way you write and I love the photos illustrating it all, they really make me smile and help to picture you there.

    I can’t wait for the next one. I wonder what you are doing now.

    Here it’s cold and sunny. There is a definite lack of interesting things to tell you about! I did a dinner the other evening , Persian food. That made me very nostalgic, and your now your blog is making me nostalgic too! We could have been those oil workers in the bar!

    It’s GOOD you have had a little quiet time. Now – what next? I can’t wait for the next blog.

    Much love to you both

    Maddy XXXXX

  5. achatfro Says:

    Hi Maddy, how wonderful if you could be those oil workers in the bar! We think of you often in this respect and speculate about your life when you were working in Nigeria. Not such good news today about northern Nigeria hostages is it though. Still all fine where we are and we take care. Fedex me some of that Persian cookin please ……… I dream of our next meal chez toi. I might be back for two weeks around 20th March as have a few things to deal with. Will let you know if it happens. Love to you

  6. Kim De Paolis Says:

    Hello! Loved catching up on your adventures, some of it sounds pretty hard core! Not sure I could deal with the toilets…blimey, if you want me to fly in some double ply, just say the word! Pleeease bring back some Chilly Willy Ketchup for the boys – why on earth does it have that name? Weird side effects? And I couldn’t get your Photo Gallery link to work! Something to keep you busy! Glad you’re keeping up with the Pilates. Much love X

  7. achatfro Says:

    Hi Kim, I wonder what nationality the marketing chap is for Chilly Willy ketchup? Can’t be from the English speaking world. You see so many funny things like that here. Yes I am being very good with the pilates. Daily workouts. I have added some things to your repertoire and downloaded a booked called Pilates on the Go by Margot Campbell. She operates from somewhere in West London. Have you come across her? Enjoy your half-term break.

  8. Ailie Says:

    I’m so impressed by your stamina, Rosie! I couldn’t believe the bill for the hotel. Wow! that was eye watering! Love the Chilly Willy ketchup.