I think there is an expression along the lines of “getting there is half the battle”… oh wait- I think I’m mixing metaphores, but it suits me right now. Actually, getting through my near hysterics goodbyes at the airport was a battle for sure. The rest of the journey was definitely a 25 hour plus slog to say the least. The airport was no where as crazy here as I thought it would be, although I lacked any small local currency to pay the ubiquitous porters, which meant a little bit of dragging my luggage around for a few meters. However, the org’s driver was there to pick me up, and brought me to a small local hotel, all as planned. No problems! It was pleasantly problem free for my wory wart mind. And, there is wireless at the little hotel! No restaurant or bar, which means I am still surviving on some juice and biscuits while in my room, but bit by bit that kind of thing will sort itself out. Needless to say, I slept quite well last night, after settling in.
I have not been over surprised by the landscape here so far, but it still difficult to absorb. Bascially, everything is dusty, and the dirt is best described as that orange-brown that may remind you of the colour of the dirt seen at the Grand Canyon. Some of the major roads are paved, but regardless, traffic has that chaotic pattern that you find in many global south cities. Niamey is a small city, so it’s not like views of Bankock or even Colombo, but trucks and cars weave there way around small motorcycles, carts, goats, children, pedestrians, cyclists, and more. I spied one man leading his fully laden camel (yes, a camel! what magnificent beasts!) along the side of the road. In addition, along the side of the road, the most common sight are young men holding up handfuls of cellular phone cards in a fan style, like holding out a hand of playing cards. You can imagine, I get special attention from them. The most ubiquitous thing I’ve seen so far are goats… goats goats and baby goats. And children. In a country with what I’ve read has the highest birth rate in the world, this is not a surprise. So far, I haven’t seen children selling goods among cars, such as candy, chiclets, water, nuts, etc. like you do in cities like Managua.
I’ve been informed that this is the “cool season”. Hum. It must be about 30 degrees celcius. But it’s a dry heat. It’s not as bad as I thought, I haven’t even had to put on any air con.
I was expected at the offfice this morning, and was able to finally put faces to names. Everyone is very welcoming, and I’m happy to report that they are less formal than I was told to expect: the tu-toiyer is used (in French, this is a less formal address than vous, or in Spanish the usted) and first names are often used (although those are a challenge for me anyway- the names are unknown to me, but people also seem to have several names and it’s sometimes difficult to figure out which one to use). Tomorrow, I will meet one group I’ll be working with. So no rest for the wicked!
The director brought me to a little restaurant for lunch and I am happy to report is was so tasty!!!!! (I am sorry I didn’t steal my friend’s idea of taking pictures of all the food I eat). It was a stew served on rice. It was chicken stew, with veggies. Total yum.
I was hoping to find a store close to my hotel- I’m not staying close to the centre of town right now- to get a little something to eat and some extra water, but I had set out a little late- just as dark was coming in (at about 6.30 p.m.) and although I located the selected shop, I only came away with some water, which is something. It is such a nice feeling of independance, however, to take a little walk about (although, granted, my security talk today included not to go out at night myself… but that means later at night, I hope!)
Sitting here now in my room, I’ve been struggling to get the CBC radio to work over the internet, but couldn’t listen to Shelagh Rogers talk to an author about his book on Montreal’s Schwatz’s smoked meat restaurant. I guess I’ll have another biscuit. However, is it not a parallel for the world’s food supply? I guess for a few days I won’t have unlimited access to as much of whatever food I want, something many of us take for granted.
So for now, it’s just hanging out in my hotel room, listening to the radio, reading and wondering….
If someone is close to them, please hug my boyfriend and dog for me.