I had a great 24-hour trip to Faya this past week and I wish I could have stayed longer. Some friends that were going up there to check out the clinic invited me along as they had room on their private plane and I was lucky enough to be able to escape the office.
The first thing I noticed when we took off from N'Djamena was how green the region was. The river was full and the neighborhoods were flooded, but it was so green- a huge change from when I arrived here in March. Its hard to believe this is part of the Sahel desert. Once we got out of the city we flew above a rain storm and the clouds extended until about 15 mins before we landed and the harsh Sahara desert landscape was revealed.
The orange sand dunes looked soft but between the dunes was the crusty brown and white hard-pan ridges. Faya, however was an oasis in the the desert.
My friends had arranged for some rental cars that drove us out into the desert and then around to an oasis that makes life possible in Faya.
The groundwater in the city is only a meter-deep in most places and in some places it bubbles to the surface.
The locals built small canals to channel the water to their date farms and gardens and a wide variety of local produce was available.
After our tour of the desert we settled into a nice vila for the night and enjoyed stable electricity and the quiet of the desert (no generator noise!). Our hosts slaughtered a goat for us and we stayed up late eating from the large platter side by side with our Chadian friends. The next morning we had the rest of the goat for breakfast and I think it tasted better on the second day!
After breakfast we packed up our bug nets and sleeping pads and headed out for the obligatory courtesy call with the provincial governor before starting to talk to the local officials. The governor was a nice guy and he said he had came back during the night to meet with us and insisted we come back to see him after we visited the clinic.