It's certainly been a very busy month since we arrived on a variety of fronts: adjusting to the climate, the food, the languages, the traffic, et cetera. There've also been multiple significant tests of our intestinal bioflora's adaptability, to put it diplomatically.
Although there isn't a lot to do here, a nice coincidence resulted in two Community Liaison Office activities since we arrived: camel riding and a trip to a local town named Gaoui. The camel riding was with a group of nomads in an area by the Chari River. We met them the morning before they left town, and it was an amazing insight into their lifestyle using only the barest of essentials.
The trip to Gaoui was to see how locals live and to see how they make pottery. Here's a photo of one of their kilns:
As mentioned previously, this is an extremely expensive place to live. The 2014 Mercer Cost of Living city rankings report was released earlier this month, which rated N'Djamena as the second most expensive city in the world for expatriates. Articles on it agree, as do I: our dinner each night costs about $40 for the two of us for spaghetti and a small pizza - nothing to drink, no appetizer or dessert, just the two entrees. Ouch.
On the work front, we've been preparing for the arrival of contractor staff, some of whom are already in country and many more are on the way. It's definitely exciting to be on the front end of a project like this, and it's great to have just a little time integrating into the embassy community before the heavy construction activity begins.
On another work-related note, this month there was a House Oversight Committee hearing on OBO's embassy construction approach. Very interesting insights on both sides, yielding context for the overall program.
It's clear from talking with embassy staff that N'Djamena is a tough post; this is not a surprise, but we're starting to understand what that really means. Still, any post is what you make of it (LOL - no kidding, the power just went out as I was typing, I'm glad I have a laptop), but I think we're doing well so far adapting to the changes. I flossed a crown off last week, after which my visions of local dentistry led to a bit of swearing. Post staff was fantastic and quickly helped me to get it professionally recemented in town in just a few days. I wonder what's in store for us next...
(This post written while listening to Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds Red Right Hand.)