Searching for Camels

Searching for Camels

Let’s set the stage:

The sun is setting in a deep, dusty haze. The sunset resembles the cross section of a blood orange; the vibrant hues painting a picture so complex, only the human eye can properly capture it. The never-ending horizon is dotted with sparse acacia trees, torched grasses, and a termite mound or two.

My head is nodding forward in sedimentary exhaustion as we bounce along the only somewhat paved road in the country. You know that feeling of when your body wants to give up even though you have done nothing all day? My eyes are dry, my stomach is shrinking, my legs and back tight from sitting, and my lips are begging for just one more swig of water while my bladder is dying for the final stop in N’Djamena. We’re still a couple hours out of the capital. The 220-ish miles seem to take forever no matter how early I leave. This time, I am numb to any emotion for going to NDJ: no excitement, no dread, no wonder, no need.

Cue the theme song to Arabian Nights as I raise my eyes to the horizon. I want to see some camels.

There is no reason I want to see them. I just do. I haven’t seen many since I arrived back here because of the rains. I have heard that camels get a pretty nasty version of athlete’s foot from the moisture. But we haven’t had rain since I got back so any moisture should be pretty much gone. I want to see an entire family moving using only their camels. I want to be reminded of how remote and old school we are here in Chad (by something other than their patriarchal system, women’s rights, internet speeds, or road conditions).

Last month in NDJ I saw two camels being used as taxis down the main road in the middle of the night. Before, we would see herds of them! With 5-gallon paint cans as cargo bags, the camels would be sauntering along as their drives looked for a new homestead.

After a while, we caught a glimpse of little ones off to be sold just before the city limits. It wasn’t the same but it was something cool. As the sun set on the Chadian plains, our journey, and my hopes, I was reminded that I was just lucky to see them in the first place. I’ll see them again. There is a time for everything and right now is not camel season. Maybe the next time I’ll see a few.

Zachary Gately

zchgtly
zgately.com
+235 91122492

L’Hopital Adventiste de Béré
ATTN: Zachary Gately
52 Boîte Postal
Kelo, Tchad
Africa

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Going Against Advice

Going Against Advice

It’s a running joke in my family that no one is really that stubborn when in reality, everyone is stubborn. It’s a wonder that we can get together long enough for one holiday sometimes. There are a couple of different types of stubborn. For a long time, I only understood the classic obstinate, get-out-of-my way stubbornness. That is, until I realized that smiling politely and doing the opposite of what is told is also one way of being stubborn.

That’s me. Lots of people tend to think that I need buckets of advice on all aspects of my life when they don’t always understand what’s going on. For instance, many of you thought I should pull out of Chad and spread my future plans out somewhere else because of malaria but mysteriously, I stopped getting it! Maybe a resistance? Or maybe I just stopped saying that I had it. In fact, I had it over this last Christmas (those who feel really sorry for me, my paypal info is on zgately.com). I have learned to listen to everyone but most of you probably know that it’s hard to convince me otherwise when I’ve made up my mind. Charis, my co-director here, continually comments on how there’s no changing my mind. My mom gave up a long time ago. So why would I change now?

Last Christmas, we took a little envoy to Moundou for our Christmas and New Year’s shopping. It was crazy hectic and most of us took a vow to never have children after that but it added to the American normalcy of the holidays; our own little Black Friday. But due to poor planning, we did not have even one working vehicle on the compound. I was bound and determined to have a little retail therapy so I said I was still going. Now, not only am I this other type of stubborn but I like to have my independence and not wait on anyone so of course, I would take my motorcycle to Moundou. I would take my friend Allahramadji but on a moto, that’s all that would fit. Well the new-ish student missionary, Zachri, was getting a bit restless as well and wanted to go terribly. Kim also wanted to go. She has a moto too but she doesn’t ride it much and the 150 km trip wasn’t something she would drive. Some how or another, she convinced herself that we should all go: Allah and I driving, Zachri and Kim as passengers.

As soon as word was out we were going, we got requests for lots of things from people here: fabrics, butter, hangers. All items unavailable to us here. We said we would try but with the motos, we had only so much space available. “YOU’RE TAKING MOTOS TO MOUNDOU?!?!?!!?” This was the standard response, similar to if I said that I was opening an abortion clinic with only a hanger, salad tongs, and my crazy great aunt’s (who use to be a witch) tea made from toenails and lizards lips. The crazy thing is that I’ve done it before without any problems. There was lots of “are you sure?” and “is it really worth it?” or “please, its so dangerous. Just hire a car!” and “can’t you just wait?” but we pushed on and broke the mold. I mean, if we had planned a little better, we could have taken a car but all the registrations were out so we didn’t want to risk the police.

We took the road less traveled (which means less paved) which cut our kilometers down to 90 and increased our time from 2.5 to 3.5 hrs. It was a beautiful drive full of National Geographic like villages, rice fields, and sand pits. We had to push through 1.5 ft deep sand, straddle previously cobbled lanes, and honk for the cows to move. And guess what, the only problems were 2 bumps that we didn’t see right away and that we had to wait for the post office to open.

One of the phrases that has come to life here was taught to me during the 2005 Auburn Adventist Academy Graduation by Mr. Thomas Allen: if it is to be, it is up to me. If I need something done, I can’t just wait. I have to push and try until it becomes a reality. As Bob Goff says, you have to knock down the door sometimes. So I’ll smile nicely and listen well but if I want something done or to do something, I’m going to do regardless. So there’s no waiting….

Zachary Gately
zchgtly@gmail.com
zgately.com
+235 91122492

L’Hopital Adventiste de Béré
ATTN: Zachary Gately
52 Boîte Postal
Kelo, Tchad
Africa

Going Against Advice

Going Against Advice

It’s a running joke in my family that no one is really that stubborn when in reality, everyone is stubborn. It’s a wonder that we can get together long enough for one holiday sometimes. There are a couple of different types of stubborn. For a long time, I only understood the classic obstinate, get-out-of-my way stubbornness. That is, until I realized that smiling politely and doing the opposite of what is told is also one way of being stubborn.

That’s me. Lots of people tend to think that I need buckets of advice on all aspects of my life when they don’t always understand what’s going on. For instance, many of you thought I should pull out of Chad and spread my future plans out somewhere else because of malaria but mysteriously, I stopped getting it! Maybe a resistance? Or maybe I just stopped saying that I had it. In fact, I had it over this last Christmas (those who feel really sorry for me, my paypal info is on zgately.com). I have learned to listen to everyone but most of you probably know that it’s hard to convince me otherwise when I’ve made up my mind. Charis, my co-director here, continually comments on how there’s no changing my mind. My mom gave up a long time ago. So why would I change now?

Last Christmas, we took a little envoy to Moundou for our Christmas and New Year’s shopping. It was crazy hectic and most of us took a vow to never have children after that but it added to the American normalcy of the holidays; our own little Black Friday. But due to poor planning, we did not have even one working vehicle on the compound. I was bound and determined to have a little retail therapy so I said I was still going. Now, not only am I this other type of stubborn but I like to have my independence and not wait on anyone so of course, I would take my motorcycle to Moundou. I would take my friend Allahramadji but on a moto, that’s all that would fit. Well the new-ish student missionary, Zachri, was getting a bit restless as well and wanted to go terribly. Kim also wanted to go. She has a moto too but she doesn’t ride it much and the 150 km trip wasn’t something she would drive. Some how or another, she convinced herself that we should all go: Allah and I driving, Zachri and Kim as passengers.

As soon as word was out we were going, we got requests for lots of things from people here: fabrics, butter, hangers. All items unavailable to us here. We said we would try but with the motos, we had only so much space available. “YOU’RE TAKING MOTOS TO MOUNDOU?!?!?!!?” This was the standard response, similar to if I said that I was opening an abortion clinic with only a hanger, salad tongs, and my crazy great aunt’s (who use to be a witch) tea made from toenails and lizards lips. The crazy thing is that I’ve done it before without any problems. There was lots of “are you sure?” and “is it really worth it?” or “please, its so dangerous. Just hire a car!” and “can’t you just wait?” but we pushed on and broke the mold. I mean, if we had planned a little better, we could have taken a car but all the registrations were out so we didn’t want to risk the police.

We took the road less traveled (which means less paved) which cut our kilometers down to 90 and increased our time from 2.5 to 3.5 hrs. It was a beautiful drive full of National Geographic like villages, rice fields, and sand pits. We had to push through 1.5 ft deep sand, straddle previously cobbled lanes, and honk for the cows to move. And guess what, the only problems were 2 bumps that we didn’t see right away and that we had to wait for the post office to open.

One of the phrases that has come to life here was taught to me during the 2005 Auburn Adventist Academy Graduation by Mr. Thomas Allen: if it is to be, it is up to me. If I need something done, I can’t just wait. I have to push and try until it becomes a reality. As Bob Goff says, you have to knock down the door sometimes. So I’ll smile nicely and listen well but if I want something done or to do something, I’m going to do regardless. So there’s no waiting….

Zachary Gately
zchgtly@gmail.com
zgately.com
+235 91122492

L’Hopital Adventiste de Béré
ATTN: Zachary Gately
52 Boîte Postal
Kelo, Tchad
Africa