Lots of interesting developments in the last two months, but first and foremost: the construction engineer vacancy announcement is open again as of today. While our Office of Construction Management wasn't fully staffed at the beginning of the year, two construction engineers have left since then (that I know of), so there should be plenty of positions open.
Construction is moving right along, as evidenced by the groundbreaking ceremony from two weeks ago - you can read a little about it here and a little more about it on the embassy's Facebook page. You can also check out the project's fact sheet here. The photo below from the ceremony proves we have buildings coming up out of the ground now (or I'm pretty good at Photoshop).
Life in N'Djamena has continued to be interesting in a variety of ways. Ongoing Boko Haram activity in the region has maintained an interesting background buzz. It's also been harmattan season, so we've been getting a few dust storms through town that looks like fog but smells like dust.
On March 1, all motorcyclists in N'Djamena had to wear helmets. This was an overnight change from no helmets for years to everyone must wear helmets. Since helmets are not free and since few people here have disposable income, it's not surprising that there were protests, including some violent ones. Since the protests were mostly by students, the government shut down the schools for several days. But the protests have subsided and life in N'Djamena is back to N'Djamena Normal, except with many moto drivers now carrying a helmet with one hand - not wearing it - while they text with the other.
I got to start driving our car (nine months after we shipping it from the US), so that extra freedom has been very nice. Unfortunately for me, I won't get to talk with the motorpool drivers as much - they really are great - but I still bother them around the embassy when I see them. One month in, driving hasn't been that bad so far. Probably the strangest rule of the road is when you're in a roundabout, you yield to the car that's entering the roundabout. That just goes against every traffic flow instinct I have, but that's the general rule here. Slow and predictable has worked so far, but I chalk up a healthy portion of my apparent success to luck. Driving schools seem popular here, which is good - I especially like the name of Relax Auto Ecole.
I also got tenured on Monday, so that's good. Of course it's right back to work as well as the dreaded Employee Evaluation Report season. Speaking of seasons, we're also now in the hottest time of year, which means the power grid is severely taxed. Lights flicker, circuit breakers trip, and uninterruptible power supplies click on and off with each surge. Last night our biggest UPS decided it had had enough and started completely shutting off even though it had fully-charged batteries. That's extremely odd for a UPS so I decided to watch the power monitor readout: the input voltage that's normally supposed to be around 230 volts went as low as 154 volts, definitely not good. Anyway, that's just one of the things we do for fun in N'Djamena!
(This post written while listening to Play That Funky Music by Wild Cherry.)