I find myself bumping along the supposedly paved streets of N'Djamena in a Hilux pickup so thrashed that you wouldn't believe it could still be running unless you've lived in Chad and seen the miraculously still running majority of Chadian vehicules limping along the highways and byways of the African plain. Sitting next to me is Enock, a squat, heavily muscled slowly turning to fat nursing student flashing a toothy grin complete with gold glint.
Whatever the case, he has been reminded of an unbelievable story that he now shares with me.
Several years ago, his son became deathly ill with severe abdominal pain. He was rushed to the health center who appropriately referred him to the National Reference Hospital in the capital, N'Djamena. They were fortunately living there at the time and were able to get him there quickly.
It was the middle of the night.
Trying to manoeuvre through the crazy ER with people piled all over the place already cost him some "tea" and "soap" money but finally he was seen by a doctor who confirmed the diagnosis: acute appendicitis.
He was scheduled for surgery that very night.
As Enock and his wife huddled together praying, the surgery team wheeled their son away through the swinging doors on a gurney. All they could do was sit and wait...
Until a half hour later, when all the lights went out.
Of course, there was instant confusion and they heard an orderly fumbling through the halls and bursting through the doors of the operating room. In a frantic rush he bumped into Enock.
"Are you the father of the boy with appendicitis?" He demanded.
"Yes, what's going on?"
"We're in the middle of the case, your son's belly is open and we have no light."
"Yeah, I noticed...what..."
"Hurry out to the market and buy some flashlights...HURRY!"
Enock rushed out, down the stairs, out the door of the hospital, hailed a motorcycle taxi, raced to the market, luckily found someone open, bought two flashlights and hurried back.
The surgeons then continued their life saving procedure and a week later Enock's son was home safe and sound.
Only in Chad.