|Jan 22 I got up at 1st light and wow, found a public, newly constructed squat pot hole to do my daily "thing"! At 7 am the bus moved out and w/ in half an hour we were stuck again, this time the story all day long...deep into potholes and sand, all out then in, and out and in...we walked almost as much as we rode, it was as if we had hired the bus to carry our packs! Arriving in Nguimui at the SNTV bus stop(actually just a spot on the "street" designated bus parking), our plans had gone before us and several fellows who spoke English asked us about our travel into Chad. At last a fellow spoke to us about changing $$ and getting stamped out of Niger. We also spoke to the cohort of the bus driver who offered a room for free to stay in right in front of the bus "station". We arranged w/ a friend of this fellow(chief of town??), for transport to go all the way to N'Djamena(Chad capital) for only 100,000CFA, distance of 650+km! This was almost too good to be true but we got it in writing so....After getting our passports stamped we returned only to find another fellow anxious to get our business going to N'Djamena. We were insistant on having already made a deal which we felt satisfied with. He was very insistant, wanting us to go with him and stay in his home but we held firm. He was supposedly the main tourist guy in Nguimui but reeked of alcohol breath! We went out in the dark being "helped" by several very insistant "guides" to get water & food supplies...not much available and what was was expensive. Hit the hay early since we were told the 'bus' might be leaving at 5.
Up at 6 we packed and were told our 'bus' is coming...ha, not a bus, not even A, nor 2, but 3 late model cars waited for us! We argued "no, we all wanted to go together in one vehicle!" This was very suspicious plus they tried to tell us it was 100,000 / person($200 US)! Argument and 'discussion' followed, the 'chief' finally showed up & yes, our receipt showed 100,000 for 4 people but we had to go split up in the 3 vehicles provided + we had to pay the drivers a total of 20,000CFA more. We refused and the 'chief' got frustrated saying OK no deal! That caused us to regroup quickly, realizing our ride was going to go w/out us. Yes, we're going & loaded up. I went in a Sazuki XL7 4 WD SUV, Bon & Mari in a Toyota Carina E w/ bumper sticker for Dennis Kucinich(sticker said from Northampton, MA), and Jake was in a Toyota Camrey, all orig. from US. During the day Bon & Mari discovered thru broken English that they were waiting for these cars imported thru Cotonou, Benin and driven shuttle fashion all the way to Chad. My driver was Nahar from Chad, Jakes was Mugtar from Chad, and B & Mari's from Nigeria was YaeYa.
Since we rode in separate cars we had different experiences, I will only relate mine. Nahar was a devout Muslim and spoke only a little English so after some silence I began asking him q's figuring out that he knew Arabic. Thus I pumped him for Arabic words since in the E. Africa journey that will be a dominant language in some countries(plus it gave us some connection). He's in his 40's and seemed to be quite knowledgeable having spent 10 yrs in the military. Found out they make this trip 3 times a month transporting vehicles to Chad. What incredible luck for us...what we thought would be the most difficult part of our journey in W. Africa turned into almost a joy ride. Happening upon the day they are leaving w/ 3 vehicles, actually one of them(the SUV) arrived in Nguigmi just after we did!
Driving out from Nguigmi there were no roads, just myriads of tracks in the sand among the vegetation. Incredible drivers! Left finally at 10 am arriving in Daboua a small village 45 min. past the border in Chad where we ckd in w/ authorities(actually they came and found us...no $$ changed hands, just a stamp in our passports).
Onward, sometimes cars got bogged down but a bit of a push(fwd excelled) or some branches for traction and on our way. Got to Loiwa or Liwa(sp) another sm village in desert about 5:30. No real food to buy here other than little bread sticks and since $$ we exchged was bigger bills it was difficult to pay for anything since problem w/ change(as everywhere in W. Africa...actually, just about everywhere we travel it seems) was 100 times worse here. Only fellow w/ small bills would have charged Bon 10% commission...the bread was gritty with sand anyway, dah desert! Getting our packs out and into the traditional stick hut 'hotel' room we found sand both all over the outside and the inside of packs even tho they had been inside veh. Actually, the sand is so fine it's almost like a slippery silky dust. The 'food' was a bowl of pieces of chopped intestines and liver plus the breadsticks and a pudding of mashed grain & sweetened condensed milk, tasty! Needless to say Bon & Mari ate very little.