14-Feb-2013 -- Back in Chad for a new mission on behalf of IIFARMU. The objectives of this mission were very different of those I had during my former stays. I had to visit 4 provincial hospitals in wich my students were sent for a 5-months traineeship. The visits were scheduled in the hospitals of Bongor, Moundou, Sarh, and Abéché. This would be a perfect occasion to try a few visits on yet undescribed confluence points.
After studying the (quite untrusty) french road map and the Google earth pictures, I choose to make a try on 9N 18E and 10N 16E during the first week, then a second visit on 12N 18E on our way to Abéché during the second week. For each of these points I would evaluate the possibility of a visit during the first trip and make the try on the return trip.
After the Abéché hospital visit at the end of the second week I would have the opportunity to keep the rented car and the driver for one more day on my own. So I planned to make a 1-day stage in Mongo on the return trip from Abéché and try to visit 12N 19E in the remote and mountainous area of the Guéra province.
The whole 2-weeks trip was done with Issakha, the local coordinator of the IIFARMU program, and Yayah our driver. Now let’s see what happened!
This CP appeared to be located less than 4 km south of the paved road running from Moundou to Sarh. The Google earth pictures show that the CP lies near the south bank of the Chari river. My plan was to start from the roadside, walk due south until the river and try to find a way to get across once there. On 13 February I scouted a small village on the roadside at 3730 m north of the CP where it would be convenient to park the car and allow Yayah and Issakha to wait for me during my try. I scheduled the visit on Thursday, 14 February on our return trip from Sahr to Moundou.
My visit to the Sarh hospital confirmed the very difficult local conditions; ensuring "normal" anesthesia and surgical care in those facilities is quite an impossible task. For a number of reasons we weren’t able to leave Sahr on time and reached the small village at almost 4 p.m.
It took me 15 minutes to walk from the village to the river on narrow foot paths through the manioc fields. While walking I was wondering if some hippos could be out on that sunny afternoon. On the sandy bluff overlooking the river, I was still 1675 m north of the CP and the river couldn’t be crossed otherwise than on boat. By chance, a man was slowly navigating upstream on his pirogue. I called him and made him understand that I wanted him to come to me on the river shore. His pirogue was in really bad state with almost 1 foot of water in it. I quickly evaluated my chances to come across the river in that boat without losing my bag, camera, and wallet and I asked the man if he would accept to bring me on the other side. He accepted and I had already one foot in the boat when I heard someone desperately calling my name from the high banks of the river behind me.
I rushed back to the fields to discover Yayah, Issakha, and the vehicle with a flat tire on the edge of a manioc field. The tire had been perforated by a manioc tree root left from the previous harvest. My dear companions were worrying about my try and decided to reach the river side with the car! After changing our wheel and driving back to the village I decided to give up my try because we had less than 2 hours of daylight left at that time and this was not enough to walk to the CP and back, drive to Koumra and have our wheel fixed. I allowed me only a few minutes to shoot a picture of the GPS receiver and we were in Koumra just after sunset. Our tire was fixed while we were surrounded by sceaming bats flying around the palm trees.
I think that 3 hours are necessary to reach the CP starting from the village on the road side; a waterproof bag to protect your belongings while crossing the river is certainly useful. I really hope to be able to make a new try on that CP in the future.
Continued at 10N 16E.