Day one in Ndjamena. The place is starting to feel familiar to me. It’s only my third time here, but the Ndjamena experience seems to always be a bit the same each time. I’m sitting in an air conditioned car, hiding from the heat, dust, and sunshine outside, with a UNHCR driver and Rachael, as we wait for Gabriel to exchange money. We’re in a bustling market place. I’m just staring out my window at all the life happening around me. There are shops lining the street, with people selling goods. A man is selling a large oriental rug to a woman. Next to them, a young man is throwing the rugs over a cement ledge making them visible to anybody passing by. Others are selling baskets, hair products, medicine, and sandals. Women walk by effortlessly carrying large baskets of peanuts on their head. A man strains to lift a bag the length of my body full of grain over his shoulder to carry down the street. Impressive. Young men lounge on their Yamah motorbikes, chatting and seemingly people watching. A rickety navy blue public bus the size of an old volkswagen van passes by. Elbows, heads and arms are dangling from its open windows and doors. It’s a blend of generations and cultures. Men walk by wearing the latest fashion – brand name jeans, shoes, shirts, sunglasses, watches, you name it. Others are wearing traditional clothing. Across the street over, I watch dozens of men shuffle into a mosque for the afternoon prayer. Others gather together on the street, shoulder to shoulder and pray. I see some older men lounging in some shade made from tarps being held over them by sticks.
For now, I enjoy the few minutes of time I get to observe the daily life of Ndjamena. After this it’s back to the hotel for more planning, preparations, and waiting to for our ride to the East. I’m really looking forward to meeting all of i-ACT’s friends – the Little Ripples teachers and students, some of the Darfur United players and the soon to be Darfur United Soccer Academy coaches, and all the refugees that help make our programs and projects and reality in camps. Basically all the people I’ve been seeing on video, in pictures and hearing stories about! Looking forward to shaking their hands.