Trip to Chad - The Pala Trail

The day lights up early in this part of the world. Djoro wakes up little by little and the conversations of the people and the sound of the cows are filling the atmosphere. The objective of the day is to reach Pala, the capital of the Mayo-Kebi West region. The landscape is beautiful after the heavy rain yesterday. The negative is that the road is full of puddles and mud, so it is very difficult to drive.

We dedicate the first hours of the morning to visit the village of Djoro. There is not much to see except fields, a small medical dispensary and many cows. There is a secondary school and some sheds built with sticks and leaves of palm trees. I ask if in these conditions young people can study. They tell me that evidently no. In addition only the director of the school receives a salary from the government. The rest of the teachers are volunteers paid by the parents of the students. Many of them do not have a teacher's degree. The level is low and it is difficult for any student coming from these rural schools to pass the entrance exams to the university. It does not seem that the government has any interest in promoting education.

After the visit we start. We have to undo the path we did yesterday to go back to Sorga and join the main dirt track. We enter Moundang territory. They tell me that this group is famous for eating dogs and that on market days they sell soup made with the meat of this animal.

The spectacle that we contemplate from the car is similar to that of the previous days. There are peasants carving their fields, some with the help of yuntas of oxen or donkeys. Children take care of the cattle. There are people who walk towards the town that today has the weekly market.

Little by little there is a small change in the landscape. It is not as flat as it has been during all these days. Kilometers of plain that are lost in the distance, being the huge termite mounds the highest points of the land. Now the horizon begins to wrinkle a little. There are small undulations, apprentices of hills are drawn to the bottom of the red dirt road, breaking the monotony.

The entrance to Pala is presided by the new governor's palace, similar to the one that is being finished in Bongor. The rest is similar to any other Chadian city we have seen. There is the Independence Square with its grandstand to preside at parades, the market, some Chinese, with many people walking.

We have to think about returning to Bongor. We do it a couple of days later and we start after eating. We walk the path that took us to Pala in the opposite direction from Sorga, Djikette, Bellé, Gourou-Gaya and so on until we reach the asphalt road in Batchoro.

It starts to get dark. The lights are changing, the children collect the cattle. We pass through villages where groups of women stand in line at the mills to grind the millet with which they will prepare the family's food. Smoke starts to come out of the concessions. Some young people, with their best clothes, walk or ride a bicycle, possibly to visit brides in a neighboring town.

Along the road, there are vans that transport travelers, cars, stop and driver and customers begin to spread mats and blankets on the edge of the asphalt to prepare for the night. It does not look like today it's going to rain.

The sky begins to be plagued with stars. After the town of Ere, we can see, in one side, the star of the south and, on the other, the big bear. I do not understand any of this, but I always thought that if one was seen one could not see the other. Standing in the middle of the road, with the noise of hundreds of frogs in the background, we contemplated the firmament.

The moon starts to come out little by little. It is a full moon that reaches its full splendor when we are crossing the bridge over the Logone at the height of Djimane.

We are getting closer to Bongor. On the road we find groups that walk. The women carry pots with food on their heads, and men and young people carry long canes. Possibly they go to a funeral. They will spend all night singing, dancing and eating. If an altercation arises between clans, the canes will take care of it.

Finally we enter Bongor. It's a full moon night and people take advantage of it. We see, we can walk. We hear drums and children singing.
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