A gust of hot dusty air wrapped itself around me as I descended the stairs out of the plane. It was already 10pm but the temperature had not dropped. I quickly found myself a place in the queue in the immigration hall by the sole air conditioning unit and settled in for a long wait.
‘Chad will teach you patience, that’s for sure’ sighed a fellow traveller behind me who smiled when I told him this was my first time in the country. The immigration hall was packed full of people, pressed together in their desperate bid to make the process go faster.
‘Adresse! Votre adresse!’ the immigration officer shouted through the bullet proof glass at a nervous looking man who fumbled through his papers at the desk. I panicked too for a moment, my colleague was nowhere to be seen and I didn’t know the address. I tried to calm my overtired brain and think where I might have put such vital information in my bag….
‘Non, non, pouce droite! Pouce droite!’ Another passenger was struggling with the fingerprint and iris recognition technology recently installed. It would be a long wait. The queue had barely moved.
An hour later a jolly fellow at the police post took our passports, and promised us a visa in a day or too. Reassured by my colleague that this was normal practise we followed our driver out into the car park and on our way.
But the adventures weren’t over. No keys to the apartment left us outside the office at midnight wondering what to do. The hotel had given away the one room allocated to my colleague and the hotel was full. After our best efforts we finally got each a room, mine with a broken cistern in the bathroom.
But by this point my patience had worn thin, and I fell into an exhausted sleep, unpeturbed by the endless noise of running water from the bathroom.
Bienvenue au Tchad!