When preparing for my journey to Chad, I was focused only on the logistics, and seeing some of the most beautiful desert scenery to be found in the Sahara. Many people were worried about my plans visiting this forgotten country. In fact, visiting the remote Ennedi region in the northeast is virtually impossible unless you join an organized tour. This means traveling in a convoy of cars, which makes chances of meeting people even smaller. Fortunately, it turned out we could create interactions with the locals almost every day, meetings that were often short, and surprising, to both the Chadians and ourselves. After seeing cars with Chadians loaded on the rooftop, my first real encounter was with a few men at a market in a town in central Chad. They turned out to be most friendly, and to my surprise, took out their cell phones to take pictures of me. This made it easier for me to pull out my camera and ask them to return the favour. As always on the tour, we had to move after a short while, but I had wanted to stay, chat more, walk around, listen, and look at their colourful dresses and the beautiful faces.
On the way towards the northeast of Chad, we saw many nomads with their camels and donkeys, traveling through the landscape with all their belongings loaded on their animals, in small groups. Many Chadians are still nomads, and live the lives of their forefathers. Then, there are the villages and towns, little and far in between, relatively new, where people flock in search of a different life. Kalait is one such town: not even on our map printed in the 1970s, but now a sizeable conglomeration of houses and an enormous amount of wells. We first have the opportunity to stroll around town, meeting market men, being invited to taste intestines barbecued on the street-side, smoking a water pipe, or just shaking hands with big smiles on their faces. The market is extensive; Kalait is at a crossroads and therefore many tradespeople come here to buy and sell their wares. Many Chadians guide their animals to the wells, often wearing immaculate white dresses. Standing on top of the well, the sight of their imposing figures is imposing.
The physique of Chadians is a surprise to me: many are tall and slender, dark-skinned, and often very beautiful. No wonder many have an air of pride over them. The further north we go, the less people we meet, simply because in the remote region of Ennedi, survival is not easy. The major town of Ennedi, Fada, turns out to be a great place. We walk the streets, talk to the people, and meet a family that we like so much, we go out and buy them some presents for their kids. Surprisingly, when in a remote part of Chad, suddenly souvenir sellers appear, apparently out of nowhere to offer us their handmade wares. In one case, the woman and girls look almost menacing with their dark clothes covering their faces, but upon closer look, their faces turn out beautiful. We have a special encounter with a group of nomads, when we see two small kids on big camels, driving them away from a well to get water up. When we look down into the well, we cannot see the water, and judging by the length of the water, establish that the well must be around 100 metres deep. It is clear that the Chadians are champions in adapting to live in an environment where most of us would not be able to survive.
Around the World in 80 Clicks
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Chadian people (Chad). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Chadian people. Read more about this site.