“Don’t go to Biltine,” one aid worker told us.
“Oh, Biltine’s fine,” the U.N. said.
“Biltine? Are you nuts?” EUFOR said.
We needed to go to Biltine, a regional center, to seek the governor’s blessing to continue our work. The road between Abeche and Biltine saw some of the early fighting between rebels and the Chadian army a couple weeks back. A crashed Mi-24 Hind helicopter lies beside the road. Rumors of rebels persisted.
Off we went in a rented Range Rover. The road was like a collapsing roller coaster. But no rebels in sight unless you count angry cows blocking the road or hopeful hitchhikers grinning and waving.
Governor Ramadan had a loaded pistol on his desk. He plied us with Pepsi, cigarettes and lamb stew then happily signed our passes. We indulged him during his long rant about how Al Qaeda is trying to “Islamify” all of Africa.
The rebels are apparently back in Sudan. Hell can get back to normal now.