Found a Camel
Sometimes what you’re looking for is just right there…Sometimes it isn’t. Normally, feel quite blind, literally and figuratively. Last “real” blog was about my time looking for a camel. There was no reason why I wanted to see one, I just and a craving to be reminding that I live in such an odd place in the world.
Thankfully, my thirst was quenched 100 fold. I went up to N’djamena in February to pick up some new volunteers and saw a few. Then I drove up with Olen (ER doctor/administrator) to the capital and they were everywhere! Hundreds of them just walking or eat or rebelling against their herdsmen. There were babies and fat old ones. I even had the chance to try some camel milk that had been sitting in a container with gasoline. It reminded me of plastic but that was probably the gasoline residue.
My classmates have been continually asking about Chad. Its already difficult to explain a country like Chad to westerners but its even more difficult to do so in French. All conversations on campus are in French or we’re fined 2 euros! In explaining, I’ve focused on the unique things. Camels were one of them! When asked how we all arrived I said camel and then someone tried to say that I rode the camel while it swam to Italy but instead they said I rode it while it walked across the Mediterranean and my fictional camel was named Camel Jesus. They especially ask what I do for past times or weekends. I paint an elegantly choppy description of a sand beach along the river, clear rice fields for running, great motorcycle rides to visit other cities and friends. I get a lot of interest, a lot of disbelieve, and lots of concern when I have to explain what words like “paludisme” mean. I have enjoyed sharing where I live as well as learning from people all over the world!
We all have stereotypes. At school we joke about Australian tendencies as well as question things like what exactly is England since its not a state nor is it a country (sorry Uncle Gary). The first time I opened my mouth, I caught all the teachers off guard. I have a US passport speak ‘Merican but I speak French with an Chadian accent. My issues in this beautiful language is not the speaking part but the structure and grammar. This is very opposite of 95% of the other students and it threw the professors for a loop!
So I keep on speaking, trying to get the gender/tense/pronoun/etc right. I explain whats going on with me and listen carefully to those who are working through their own issues with French. So though I didn’t find a camel to take me for free, I’ve had an exhilarating time working on my French. I have 1 more week! Then straight back to Chad. I am excited to get back: back to a routine, back to my friends, and back to search for more camels!
Zachary Gately, MPH
L’Hopital Adventiste de Béré
ATTN: Zachary Gately
52 Boîte Postal