Miscellaneous Pictures and Stories

Another shot of that amazing gorge

Another shot of that amazing gorge

Elephants have big feet!! These tracks were at a watering hole that had long since dried up.

Elephants have big feet!! These tracks were at a watering hole that had long since dried up.

Alas, this is the closest I came to seeing a lion. Eric and I took a walk through the park and there were tracks along most of the trail- it was one of my favorite parts of the whole trip. The footprint in the upper left is a lion; lower right is a baboon.

Alas, this is the closest I came to seeing a lion. Eric and I took a walk through the park and there were tracks along most of the trail- it was one of my favorite parts of the whole trip. The footprint in the upper left is a lion; lower right is a baboon.

This is just interesting topography we passed while on the large mammal survey.

This is just interesting topography we passed while on the large mammal survey.

The dry season dries up the rivers forces the animals to migrate to find water.

The dry season dries up the rivers forces the animals to migrate to find water.

During the first week we took a trip to a town called Torodi where there's another Peace Corps hostel. While we were there we visited several of the bush villages surrounding Torodi to tell the villagers that new volunteers would be arriving soon.

During the first week we took a trip to a town called Torodi where there’s another Peace Corps hostel. While we were there we visited several of the bush villages surrounding Torodi to tell the villagers that new volunteers would be arriving soon.

These are some huts near Torodi.

These are some huts near Torodi.

Wednesday, December 9
We went out in a truck and visited some bush villages today- there are new PCVs getting sworn in soon and we visited their future homes to make sure the concessions were in decent shape and told the villagers that they’d have another guest soon. One of the new volunteers is black so when we went to her future village we all (Ann, Eric, Elliot, Debbie, our driver Musa and I) sat in the shade with the village leaders and tried to explain that not everyone in America is white, but that there are many different kinds of people and we’re all American and all equal. It was hard for them to understand. Finally Musa told one guy that if he went to America, he could walk around and no one would know he wasn’t American because there are people who look just like him there. He was astonished– “Like ME??” Yes, yes, like you! Then he got really excited and wanted to know how he could go to America, what he had to do. White skin is almost revered here; it symbolizes America and wealth and the Peace Corps.

I also saw ‘President’ Bari yesterday. I don’t know much about the politics of Niger, but I guess he’s sort of a dictator who’s trying to convince people that he’s leading a democracy… I’m not sure. Everyone in Torodi wore their best clothes and they all crowded around the military vehicles and chanted his name. There was a makeshift stage set up with a low quality microphone on it, and there were so many kids climbing the trees to see better that some of the trees were starting to bend over and crack. I wish now that I had taken my camera, but I wasn’t feeling well so I went home and laid down after just a few minutes in that crowd.

**Update: a few months after my return, Bari was assassinated in the airport that I flew in and out of. Rumor says that his own men turned on him and pumped him full of bullets at close range, but the ‘official’ word is that Bari died in an ‘unfortunate accident’.**

An African Mahogany

An African Mahogany

The Peace Corps hostel in Torodi

Another great part of my trip- we climbed this mesa to watch the sun set. Debbie, a Torodi volunteer, is in the foreground.

Another great part of my trip- we climbed this mesa to watch the sun set. Debbie, a Torodi volunteer, is in the foreground.

The reward for the climb... a breathtaking view. That white speck is our truck- that's where I was standing when I took the first picture.

The reward for the climb… a breathtaking view. That white speck is our truck- that’s where I was standing when I took the first picture.

Eric, me and another volunteer's dog

Eric, me and another volunteer’s dog

And the big finale...

And the big finale…

This girl lives in Niamey and does Henna to supplement her family's income. She painted both hands and both palms for 2500 cfa (about $5). I let it dry for about an hour and then washed it off.

This girl lives in Niamey and does Henna to supplement her family’s income. She painted both hands and both palms for 2500 cfa (about $5). I let it dry for about an hour and then washed it off.

The results faded to brown in about a week and a half, and I still had traces of the designs on both palms four weeks later.

The results faded to brown in about a week and a half, and I still had traces of the designs on both palms four weeks later.


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