Words can have more than one meaning, so cool camping may not mean what you think it does. But lets first take an example in Tudaga, Kûdi, it can mean dog or drum (falling tone), and with a slight change (rising tone) bed or cloud. No doubt this can lead to confusion, but beating a dog in church would not be a normal activity so I guess the context usually makes it clear. English is less complicated, there are no tonal meanings that I am aware of, but words such as ‘cool’ can all the same lead to confusion. Cool camping is a website that we have used in the UK, cool in the sense of special, less frequented, beautiful and often simple. I guess a campsite in Bardai would probably fit the category quite nicely. It could also have a difference sense of the word ‘cool’ that is ‘chilly’ with night time outside temperature down as low as 2° C ( yes only just above freezing) since we have been here, that would fit as well. Therefore camping might not seem to be such an attractive idea, but I am not sure that it is a lot different from how we live.
The house we are living in at the moment
Andrea unpacking our trunks just arrived from Ndjamena
So welcome to Cool Camping Bardai, (in as many senses of the words as you choose to understand). It has received ***** reviews for its spectacular situation but rather less for its facilities. We are living in a simple breeze block house, borrowed from a linguist couple who are out of the country for a few months. It consists of a main room and a bedroom each of which have a small ( 30 X 30 cm) shuttered window. There is a veranda and a separate kitchen. The roof, doors and windows are all made of corrugated aluminium and there are no ceilings. It is fully equipped so we only had to bring our personal items from Ndjamena with us, clothes, books, household objects, some medical supplies and equipment, and dried food etc.. in 3 large metal trunks which now double as cupboard space.
It has a reasonable sized yard with a small garden plot and we have some tomatoes, aubergines, hot and sweet peppers plus some herbs growing. So far only a handful of each but hopefully more with regular watering.
We are a 15 minute walk up a sandy road to the hospital, it is like walking in snow in that it takes more effort than normal. The main street with its collection of lock up stores all of selling the same collection of tinned and dried food is about 200m away.
Having spent our first night at Bardai it was rather chilly and so we decided to have breakfast outside, the air temperature rapidly rose and the sun felt warm. Next we organised the house, made book shelves in the lounge with large dried milk tins and planks. Then we put some postcards on the wall.
In addition to sponge mattresses on the concrete floor of the bedroom we have a large pop up mosquito net. Due to lack of water there are no mosquitoes, but scorpions are a real problem. A four seasons sleeping bag from the UK along with bedsocks and a rug, is enough to keep us warm.
The kitchen is also pretty simple, having a single kerosene stove supplemented by the solar cooker. There is no running water in the kitchen but the stand pipe in the yard has an intermittent town water supply, 4 hours every 2 days so we keep a couple of large 150l drums full. We wash our pots and clothes by hand and all the waste water gets poured onto the garden.
We have electricity from a solar panel on the roof and a single large truck battery. The computer and phone can be charged by day and the 12v fridge in the kitchen is amazingly efficient, but then again it is the cold season. As I write this the light bulb has gone out, we usually have one on at a time.
Finally the bathroom, always a selling point in a house, it has a fantastic view and the sun warms you by day. It is situated next to the garden, just behind the washing on the line in the picture above. Bucket showers with solar heated water are very nice. The toilet, a simple pit latrine, is separate being just outside the wall and again it has a fantastic view of the stars.
So as you can see living here really is rather like camping, but that’s fine as that is something that we have always enjoyed doing. Now that the weather is warming up it is getting much easier, dressing for dinner no longer requires thermal underwear, which is a nice change. Strange to think that in a couple of months time we will be sleeping outside as it is too hot to be within the walls of the house.
However we are not really camping and we are settling in to our new routine, from the first week that we arrived we have had a 2 hour Teda language lesson in the morning, followed by private study. Also we have been helping out atthe cultural centre some afternoons a week and are spending a couple of afternoons working at the hospital mainly sorting out and organising all the material. In between shopping, going for walks in the hills, visiting neighbours and watching a football match. Its a cool place to be!
Key: A : Hospital
B: Water Tower
C: Telephone Mast
F: Our home is somewhere in the date palms