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N’Djamena- Where Arabia meets West Africa

The capital of Chad was a weird, but welcomed transition between the conservative Arabian Africa and the more promiscuous West Africa. On the street you would find black ladies in high heels with fake hair and lots of makeup as well as men with dhob and women with hijabs. The background sounds could use mosque prayers in one street and loud hip hop music from a bar just a few hundred meters away.

N’Djamena is a small city, but it has probably the most grand buildings in all of Africa. In the center of town you’ll find “Place de Nation” where a huge arch stands tall over flags and monuments of soldiers. Churches, ministries, museums and other government buildings are bragging about the countries vast oil and mineral resources while most people don’t make more than what they need to feed themselves. N’Djamena is like the Ashgabat of Africa.

The huge National Museum was opened just for me (open whenever there is a tourist) and had some impressive exhibition about the Sao Sultanate and the animist culture that reminded me a lot of the one in Burkina Faso. The museum also had the skull of the World’s oldest humanoids, the Sahelantropus Tschadencis, discovered in 2001. The famous Lucy in Ethiopia is just 3,1 million years old but the less famous tchadensis here in D’jamena is approximately 7,2 million years old. Who would have known?

My plan was to go south to Mondou, the green part of Chad, but on my way there my cell phone got stolen. As if that was not enough, I had my computer charger fried just one hour later.

The next days were spent with no tools to help me navigate, communicate and entertain myself, just like people traveled in the old days.

I ended up spending my last four days with the same routine of going to the corrupt police every morning to see if they had my report ready and then spending the rest of the day in a pink bar drinking beer, talking to locals and setting up my new 50$ crappy itel phone.

I paid 5000cfa/8$ at the end to get my police report and am ready to go to Central African Republic tomorrow.

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Visiting the Gaoui Village

My impression of Chad before getting here proved to be completely wrong. It is relatively cheap, it is very safe and clean and it is easy to organize travels from the capital. I had thought the opposite.

Me and my German travel companion rented a car with a driver for 20 000CFA (approx 30$) to take us to Gaoui Village, about 20km outside the capital N’Djamena. The drive halfway out was on tarmac and the rest on dirt roads. About 5km before we reached the village we drove past a huge camp with Central African refugees. We stopped the car and asked to pay a little for a tour, but the police guards told us no so we just drove on.

Arriving at Gaoui it was all very organized. There was a museum/visitors center where you paid 3000CFA for a guided tour in French. The guy also took us around to show us every part of the village famous for its decorated walls and the clay pots that they are making there.

The kids followed us around everywhere we went, and were a bit dissapointed when we told them that we didn’t have any “bonbons” for them at the end. Everyone were quite friendly and didn’t mind us taking pictures or sit down and ask them about their life there.

One part I found really interesting in the museum was the clay marbles that were used as money there in the Sao Sultanate in the 1700s. Also they masks that were used for rituals, that reminded me a lot of the animist/voodoo masks used in West Africa which was interesting to see so far east.

Chad has been generally been very interesting culturally. It’s like a mix of East African, Arab and West African-the place where they all meet.