Balmy Chad Siesta

It’s hot here. So hot that by 11:00 in the morning it’s getting hard to move. I lie in my cot in my tent, snoozing in brief spurts – and, between naps, pouring bottled water on my head. It’s the temperature of half-hour-old coffee, but it’s cool as it evaporates, which it does in seconds. By noon, the sun is directly overhead, blazing through a clear blue sky, and even sleeping is impossible. I lie half-awake, feeling sweat roll down my neck, chest, legs. In a million years or so, it’ll be 4:00, the sun will slink towards the horizon, and it’ll be cool enough to sit up, stand up, put on some pants and maybe get some work done.
Just existing in Chad is tough – never mind deploying and sustaining a hard-working military force. At Abeche, an Italian military doctor told me to drink six liters of water a day. Here in Iriba, Polish commander Marc Gryga says his troops work in two shifts: 6:00 to noon, 4:00 to 6:00 PM, with the four hours in between for napping, hydrating, cooling off. Gryga compares Chad to Congo, where he last deployed. Congo’s hot. But Chad is HOT.
They’re still just setting up here at North Star Camp. The main body of Polish troops isn’t due until August. It’s then that life will get really hard. For instead of just knocking around the base building stuff, the battalion will be patrolling, often for days at a time, living out of their trucks and sleeping when and where they can. Poor bastards.
But then there are the Chadian nights: cool, breezy, alive with the songs of crickets. Almost makes you forget the days.
(Photo: me)