Niger, West Africa
Hot is the best adjective to use when describing the vast African expanse that is Niger. Located in the middle of nowhere with few resources other than the Niger River that snakes down the mid-western half of the country, Niger is brutal. Brutal weather, living conditions, you name it, it's hard core living. One of the Peace Corps Volunteers here said that the PCV's sent here are usually the ones who have no particular skills, but are in great health and can handle anything.
True to his word, most PCV's here seem pretty tough and there are few projects they can do here. The sandy earth makes for difficult farming; well digging is painful. I give them credit for sticking it out in such conditions. I'm on day three and can't wait to return to the pleasant climate of coastal Cote d'Ivoire, with its abundance of produce and tropical fruits, cool night breezes, and occassional rain showers.
The Cure Salee is an annual festival that brings together cattle herders and tribes from all over the Sahara to the edge of the desert near a town called Agadez in northern Niger. Festivities last all of September, the highlight being Gerewol, where men dress up for a beauty contest of sorts and single women choose their future husbands from their line-up. It's one of the great festivals in all of Africa and one we've been dreaming of witnessing for quite some time.
Upon arrival Friday night, we were shot down with the news that the US Embassy and Peace Corps had issued a warning forbidding travel for Americans to Agadez. There has been fierce Taureg tribal fighting in the desert and Agadez is a hotspot. Hostage situations and other dangers posed to great a risk for us, so we came all this way for essentially nothing. But what can you do? It's another reality check - things are ever unpredictable here and there's nothing you can do about it but roll with the punches and seek other experiences.
Hot. Did I mention it's hot here? It's SOOOO incredibly hot that four cold showers a day do not make any consolation and a sick travel partner to boot is quite frustrating.
Live and learn and appreciate.
Cheers to travel, insh'allah...
"You may be disappointed if you fail, but you are doomed if you don't