There was no alarm set this morning. Despite the terrifying bug on the window when we checked in, managed to sleep in a good deal before heading down to breakfast. After a solid meal, we checked with the front desk about the possibility of getting a driver for the day. We had written to several tour companies before leaving, but they all wanted in excess of 200 Euros for a day of touring. No thanks!
Meanwhile, the hotel was willing to provide us a driver for 10,000 CFA an hour, or less than $20. Sold! The only catch was that he would not be available to slightly after lunch. No problem there. Nice morning of relaxing, and we were off to see the city. We had wanted to go out to Lake Chad, but unfortunately, it was closed with military roadblocks thanks to terrorist activity in the area. THANKS BOKO! So, we would have to be content with a tour of N’Djamena. After grabbing lunch at the hotel, we met our driver, complete with air conditioned car, and we were off.
First stop was the National Museum, which was located maybe a five minute drive from the hotel. We pulled into the car park, and everything was suspiciously quiet. As we walked up to the front door, there were a few guys lounging out front just sitting around. Turns out one of them was the museum manager/guide/not sure what he did. This whole thing was seeming very informal. Yes, the museum was open, and we could see it if we wanted.
Went inside, and he had a surprisingly formal receipt book, with all sorts of official stamps. Then, he requested ID to let us visit. We hadn’t brought passports, and I could tell he was debating if it would just be easier to send us on our way so he didn’t have to give a tour. Eventually, I found my PADI scuba certification card in my wallet, and he agreed that was official enough to let us in, hahaha. Receipt stamped, and he started giving us the tour. We started in the main room which was a tour of the history of Chad.
Unfortunately the guide spoke no English, and his French wasn’t fantastic either so we more or less had to go by the signs on the exhibits, which were at least in proper French. One of the first stops was this bird costume used in ceremonial rituals:
Along with a traditional xylophone:
Ancient Islamic prayer mat:
Verses from the Koran sculpted on wood:
After spending a while touring the first floor (along with the guide, we were definitely the only people in the entire museum) he took us upstairs to the exhibit which was the highlight of the museum. The centre of the exhibit was a 6-7 million year old skull which was found in Chad in 2002 and is thought to be the oldest ancestor known of humankind, which has been named Toumaï man. The skull:
Another angle, along with another skull found in the area:
After the museum, we decided we would go see the Central Market/Grand Marché. We’d been highly discouraged from this by several sources, mainly because just a couple months prior Boko Haram had bombed the market, killing dozens. Even our driver wasn’t keen on going into the market, so dropped us off, and told us to come back to the car when done, he would go to the mosque to pray. We wandered for maybe an hour, and other than quite a lot of curious stares, no trouble at all. Perhaps the funniest moment was running into the only other white person in the market, and the WTF are you doing here?! look that he gave us, lol. In fairness, we wondered the same thing about him!
Had to be extremely careful taking pictures, however, because it was banned by the military since the bombing. One decent covert shot:
From the market we headed to the Cathedral of N’djamena, which had clearly seen better days. It was surrounded by a fence, and when we got close to try and take better pictures of it, a group of police/military guys with big guns started yelling at us. We decided it was best to go back to the car and be satisfied with a poor shot/visit:
After that, the next stop was the Place de la Nation monument to the founding of Chad. We wanted to stop and get a proper picture, but it was clearly “inderdit” according to our driver, so instead he drove around the square a few times until I managed to snap a pretty decent covert pic from the car:
After this, we headed to another market on the outskirts of the city where getting photos was a bit easier:
Hauling goods at the market:
Busy market scene:
At the edge of the market:
Really thrilled to get this picture, great example of local transport, local dress, and goats in the background!
…speaking of goats, they were everywhere:
Our final stop on the route back to the hotel was for a haircut, at the world-reknowned “Salon Obama” for men:
After several hours of driving around seeing the few sights N’Djamena had to offer it was back to the hotel just after sunset to relax and get ready to head onward the next day!