My African Advent Calendar: Day 13, A CAR

A wild ride through Chad's badlands

In the end it wasn’t the crude bombs dropped from the Sudan Air Force Antonovs that came closest to hurting me in Darfur. It was the journey back through Chad’s border region that proved the most frightening. The run from Bahai (where Jem rebels had deposited me) to Tine went fine. Then, after a night spent at the local police chief’s pleasure, it was on to Abeche. We left after a seven-hour wait for the Land Cruiser to fill. Predictably after 30 minutes we then stopped so the driver could pray.

We lumbered on our way, dangerously overloaded with 18 women and children crammed in the back, their luggage loaded on the roof, raising our centre of gravity dangerously high. I tried to snooze, listening to a bit of Sufjan Stevens on my iPod, ignoring the way we slithered and slipped from side to side on the sand. Then, with a bang we were on our side. No-one was hurt, but the upshot was a cold, frightening night in one of the most unstable parts of Africa.


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