achatfromchad

blog from chad

45 Degrees and Rising …..

We’ve been back in the southern reaches of Chad, in its second largest town, Moundou, which is close to the various oil excavation sites where the bulk of Carlo’s surveying work is taking place. Though the mainly unpaved streets of this town are an orange dustbowl it somehow feels a more pleasant place to be than the crowded streets of N’Djamena. Moundou is more akin to a provincial market town than a large faceless city and with that comes a friendly atmosphere and a better sense of community. We love it here in a sort of dusty, rustic way, if that makes sense. Everything is so down to earth and what is achieved on a day to day basis, both at work and otherwise, is often extraordinary considering the lack of equipment, facilities and supplies.

Dusty streets of Moundou on a good day!

Dusty streets of Moundou on a good day!

After rain these streets can look rather lovely

After rain these streets can look rather lovely

The mango season has arrived in Moundou

The mango season has arrived in Moundou

An interesting roundabout in Moundou called 'Place de L'Amite'

An interesting roundabout in Moundou called ‘Place de L’Amite’.  Not sure why the white chap is wearing army uniform?

A good example of how things work against all odds would be Carlo’s Moundou office of 40 staff (35 out on site, 5 in the office) which is producing complex engineering designs with virtually no electricity from the town. It has its own petrol generator which chugs along noisily all day powering 6 laptop computers and two printers and unable to power even one air-conditioning unit. A fulltime cleaner tries and keep the dust under control which is a losing battle. Theodolites and computers somehow survive. Carlo doesn’t, as he regularly comes back to the hotel to finish his work due to the generator and computer batteries having failed. But the work gets done.

After Carlo complained to his surveyors that their equipment was not kept clean he found them outside washing the tripods with soap and water

After Carlo complained to his surveyors that their equipment was not kept clean he found them outside washing the tripods with soap and water

Daily the temperatures are rising as we head for the rainy season which starts towards the end of May. We’ve become accustomed to 45C in the shade and that’s on a cool day. We walk bare foot around  rooms where the stone tiles are as warm as those in Europe when the underfloor heating is turned on. The air is so hot and dry that as we inhale it we feel our mouth go dry and our eyes sear and smart. The heat feels solid and cloaks us like a thick blanket, one we would gladly cast off in exchange for just a few moments of European coolness. BUT, and there is always a positive BUT, the dryness and heat are keeping the worst of the malarial mosquitoes at bay so the evenings are balmy and mainly insect free ……. at least until those storm clouds roll in.

waterholes are precious and shared by animals and humans alike

waterholes are precious and shared by animals and humans alike

The most interesting part about this photo is that there is a man in the water and he is washing his white goat

The most interesting part about this photo is that there is a man in the water and he is washing his white goat.  It’s not uncommon to see a motorbike or car being washed in a waterhole such as this.

We’ve had one recent night storm which cleared the dust for a day and it was bliss. Recently Annabelle and family were out of town so she offered us her pool if we felt like a swim. In this heat it didn’t take us long to accept. We drove to her house, were grilled by her over-zealous guard, and eventually dove into clear, cold blue water, refreshing after the warm, bottle green pool we were used to at the Club Coton Chad hotel! Wow, how good it felt to be cool. In fact the difference between the air temperature and the water was such that it almost took our breath away as the pool had only recently been filled. Annabelle has just told us that her guard left her a note to say that during her absence ‘some people called Carlo and Rosie came over to wash themselves in her pool!!!’ Next time we will take soap and a sponge with us!

Annabell's pool. For those who know Carlo well 'plus ca change!'. He is still cleaning pools.

Annabelle’s pool. For those who know Carlo well ‘plus ca change!’. See he is still cleaning pools.

 Carlo is taking the brunt of the heat here in Chad by the nature of his work which entails hours out in the bush with surveying teams, often far from Moundou. There the air is still and blisteringly hot with mirages rippling over parched landscapes. Nothing moves and nothing is heard except the occasional chirrup of some distant insect or bleat of an animal …… OR muffled music coming from the pocket radio of a surveyor. Goats and cattle hug the trunks of any tree they find, desperate for shade. Random trees give some protection but their leaves are sparse and thin and anything up to ‘standing-goat height’ has long been eaten! Sometimes also by camels. These trees will cling to life until the day the thunderstorms bring torrential rain and respite. By then we will be long gone from Chad and this will seem a very distant world.

What the goats can't reach and don't eat  the camels do!

What the goats can’t reach and don’t eat the camels do!

Dry countryside near Moundou

Dry countryside near Moundou

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5 Responses to “45 Degrees and Rising …..”

  1. Eva Löwenborg Says:

    You can look forward to a much cooler Provence. Don’ even think about entering the pool for a swim.
    I myself am in Denmark in snowstorm. Seems like the winter will last forever.
    Going back to France with Niels, Gandalf and both cats next week Thursday.

    See you soon in les cedes!

    Bisous xxx

  2. Jane and Mike Says:

    We in total awe of you two and your staying power and optimism in the face of adversity and dust and 45 degrees in the shade!! Nice to see though, that despite all, Carlo is still happily cleaning the pool! Life is going to seem incredibly dull and boring when you get back to Cabrieres, but Mike says, if you need a guard outside your house at les Cedres, he’s your man and he’ll bring his own machetti!

  3. Sam Says:

    Sounds amazing experience and like South Nepal (India Border) coming up to the monsoon! 45C and dusty and sitting under a whirring fan in a trance when not having to muster the energy to work!
    Glad to be back in Bangkok after the snow in UK!
    April is mostly Vietnam and Myanmar for work.
    Take care.

  4. Rosie Says:

    Hi Sam, yes I thought this might all ring a few bells with you and your part of the world, all very similar yet very different if you know what I mean!!! Fascinating world we live in. Carlo is still in Chad for another 3 weeks but I am back in Cabrieres and it feels very strange. Missing the mangos already!!! Hope we see you in Europe one day soon. xxx

  5. Rosie Says:

    Hi Jane and Mike,
    Mike is so gallant. You can tell him I will reward him with mangos, regular cups of tea and nice chats! He won’t be lonely on guard duty as lots of people and dogs pass by!!!! He will be entertained by the music from the Restaurant de Cedres! What more could a guard want in life!!! A bientot, xxxx