Saturday, June 21, 2014

Dans NDJ

We've arrived at post and this experience is certainly what all The Fuss is about. It’s been an exciting and massive change, that’s for sure. It’s hot and dusty here, but there are a surprising number of birds. I haven’t seen many bugs yet, but there are also a lot of fat, happy little lizards crawling all over the place. I think we’re heading into the rainy season, so the number of bugs is probably going to go up.
The environment is pretty austere with limited skilled labor, significant shipping issues, and developing infrastructure. It’s an odd combination of a poor economy yet extremely expensive goods. In my short time working on West Africa projects, I've heard a lot of people talk about their post as the most difficult, so I won't say that about N'Djamena. It certainly has many challenges though: class disparity, high crime, limited housing, no Starbucks. I hear it's very rare for people to extend their two year tour here despite the Service Needs Differential option for additional pay.
I've jumped into the project as quickly as possible given my transfer efforts. With my attention spread between multiple projects previously, I'll have the luxury of focusing on one project and digging much further into the details. That is, I'll have that luxury eventually - for now, I'm still helping one of my previous projects while some of its staff are out.
In the meantime, I’m starting to learn the layout of the city. So far I’ve seen three motorcycles (called ‘motos’ here) with a live goat straddling the gas tank, looking like it was driving. The driving rules of the road are…curious. I think there’s a pattern but I haven’t figured it out yet, which is fine since our car won’t arrive for months. I played tennis last week one evening and drank about a liter and a half of water during the 90 minutes - actually it didn’t feel crazy hot at first, but I was pretty overheated by the end. More acclimation to come…
(This post written while listening to the hum of our air conditioner.)

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Vacancy redux

The Construction Engineer vacancy is open yet again!  Yes, it did just open last month as well as in February.  Opportunity abounds!

(This post written while listening to Loudon Wainwright III Cardboard Boxes.)

Sunday, June 1, 2014


It seems pretty official that my first assignment will be N'Djamena Chad! The project is a new embassy, which we expect to take about 2.5 years to complete. Here are some basic stats on N'Djamena and Chad:
  • Population = ~1,000,000
  • Altitude = ~980 feet (298 m)
  • Primary languages = French and Arabic
  • Major industries = cotton, cattle, and fishing
  • Annual average rainfall = 22 inches (559 mm)
  • Average maximum temp = 106 deg F (41 deg C) in April
  • Average minimum temp = 58 deg F (14 deg C) in January
  • Chad's ranking on the Failed States Index = 5th worst in the world (obviously a list you want to avoid, like ESPN's Bottom 10)
  • Chad seems to be a destination for regional refugees from Central African Republic, Sudan, and Nigeria
  • N'Djamena is frequently ranked among the top 10 most expensive cities in the world
From CIA Factbook
We're scheduled to arrive this month, which is between the February-May hottest time of year and the July-September rainy season. We're in the middle of our preparations to leave, which have required an incredible amount of planning so we've been extremely busy in the past month. My wife's been amazing dealing with all the details - I'm stunned thinking about singles and people with kids trying to manage this, it's unreal. It's exciting to be getting out into the field!

(This post written while listening to Rockwell Somebody's Watching Me.)