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On the Road with RoxAnna - 5

An adventure within an adventure

RoxAnna Breitigan July 18, 2018

Sleeping in the middle of the desert in a tent under the stars hearing the sounds of the night is not always the best way to fall asleep. You hear noises and if you are not familiar with the area, you do your best to decipher the sounds of the night instead of trying to fall asleep. The heat is so intense even at night, any breeze is a welcome one. Then there are the things you never think you may think you hear falling asleep at night, like donkeys braying. Yes, that’s what I said, donkeys braying. The last thing I remember is looking up at the stars through my tent mesh and hearing the donkeys in the distance before falling asleep. I smiled thinking how funny it was to hear donkeys and finally fell asleep despite the intense heat.

In the morning light, you quickly remember where you are. At base camp the sand is soft and smooth like at the beach so the tent sleeping is a bit more comfortable, here the sand is hard and firm. We needed a heavy hammer to stake our tents down. The morning was cool and with cloud cover which is nice because you know later in the day the sun will be back to beat on us as we travel back. A quick bite of rye crackers and jelly for breakfast, load the gear, pack the water and off we went. We stopped along a Wadi and found more birds and even hyena tracks near the water’s edge before our long travel back to camp. The trek back was rough, bumpy and hot, very little trees with sightings of wildlife few and far between.

We did see lots of nomad people with their homes and livestock along the way. Sometimes the children would run up to our trucks and wave, we would smile and wave back. Occasionally, a random dog would be around running alongside the children. The most striking thing though was the amount of destruction by overgrazing. Overgrazing is a term we use all the time when talking about one of the major threats for a lot of animals. I tend to try and not use those big words as I don’t think they really tell a clear picture of the issue. Although, I must say I have always had a hard time describing this one to people because I have rarely ever seen it first- hand. Now I know what it looks like as I have seen it while driving across this land. Someone here described it as the land looking tired, and yes it does. The trees and shrubs are worn down, there is way too much animal dung everywhere and little native wildlife to be seen. There are the goats, sheep, donkeys that are grazing, however, the worst of them all are the camels. The amount of camels we have seen has been remarkable. Camels in large numbers are destructive and for the most part are allowed to go where ever they want, even in the water sources. They leave the land, well, tired. If it was just the family nomads grazing it would not be that bad but what we think is people with rich, deep pockets is behind most of it. This of course, is quite disheartening and is really tough to see as we drove mile after mile. There are no fences around the preserve or the Wadi’s so you can’t keep them out. We all worry that if something is not done differently there will be no more Wadi’s. There is a plan to start protecting small portions and speaking with the local people about the importance in the care of the Wadi. Time will tell on this one.

As we drove back to base camp and the oryx who welcomed us home it was easy to think about the differences and similarities between all of the countries of the world. Many of the issues we discussed over dinner that are here in Chad, are easily the same issues we discuss about our own country. We also talked a lot about hope and change. Change can be for the better or not and it can depend entirely on your perspective. Hope is what keeps us going, we talked about how we need to hang on to the flicker of hope that all the efforts we are doing, no matter where we are in the world will make a difference. Because we know if we do nothing, it won’t get better so we need to at least try and do what we can. We all can do something, one thing to make the world a better place. What can be your one thing today?

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