Niger Travel Stories, Page 13

Buying Candles in Niger

Buying Candles in Niger
Note: There is no problem that is obvious for Electricity in Niamey, Niger, I am going to the countryside and like to read at night. I am being prepared.
8:53 September 4, 2005 Sunday

I went out early today and walked around as the key was on the table and I could leave easily, I am sure Melanie did not like me waking her up yesterday at 10:00 AM so I could go to the internet café. She has been sleeping to about two or 3:00 PM so far every day, however she does stay up late and should be on Canada time.

I had a great time walking around and found the office on or near Maurice Delens Street, this is not a travel by the map city, it is travel or know the Landmarks city. I do think walking is almost easier than taking a taxi as they are annoyingly difficult to take because they cannot read and do not know the names of the street. Maybe the best say to get around is landmark to landmark. For example, I am the Pharmacie du Point D and I can go to the Hotel Gawaye quickly, that is right in the center and next to the John F K Bridge. I have been trying to find the Mission Catholique Hotel or it could just be a Church, however they have rooms there and I would like to move where there more people. Actually as soon as I find some way to change money, I will leave for maybe Maradi, or some city. I am not sure because Maradi is full of the NGO, and even my two your old guidebook says,

- … more than the usual quota of international aid organizations. -
Page 298 Lonely Planet Africa - Niger Section
This is just across the border from Nigeria and an easy jump for truck, it is also considered the - … commercial and industrial capital of Niger. - (Lonely Planet)

This is always a problem with groups of Foreigners in a country they come in and congregate where it is easy to travel or visit, they also are close or grouped together and have this womb need that make them not separate. I am not sure what to do as for sure I am told this city has a problem however when and in print Lonely Planet Guidebook for Africa is saying they have too many or over their quota of International Aid Organizations then you already know or hope this is not a problem area still.

I suppose all of this has to do with being effective or efficient, I am amazed at the pure numbers of Aid Organizations that are here and how it would appear impossible to get to a level of people dying; this is difficult and makes me angry. These buildings and signs have been here for a lot longer than one month; they I would guess took years or at least two years to establish this infrastructure of offices and facilities, buy them big Land Cruisers and such.

Two young girls maybe almost 14 or 15 years old walking directly in front of me, the girl almost caught me taking the photo or if she did me having a funky looking camera and not paying attention to her made her not jump.

Niger people are touchy about the photos and it seems like I could pay to take a photo of things quicker, I am getting to the point of expediency and the desire to explain. The problem with paying is these people put their hands out in second for anything, so if I offer to pay then I got a whole other set of problems. I will be surrounded by beggars or people trying to get into my pocket. Right now I have trained the people in my area that I will say hello, however if they think I am going to come over because they gave me an order to come over they are crazy. They have the somewhat Arab like gesture of demanding you come over and talk. It is great to now really understand their French because now I do not have to pretend I do not understand, I really do not understand what they are saying because they speak French.

This is a wood gathering nation and I am in the direct center of the largest city in the country across from the office, I do not think this country has the trees to spare; they need them to keep the sand in place. They sell gas or propane so this is not needed.

This is a roadside Mosque a stop and pray as you go Mosque, not that is a touch and go picture, I did not just stop, take my time and photograph this… hehehe

I was told my Melanie the Oxfam person that the normal price of Rice is 10,000; however, the price of rice is now 30-40,000 Niger Francs. I went and checked and it is now 17,000. I doubt that she has ever purchased a large economy size bag of rice so she is just making it up as she goes, very common and SAP - Standard Operating Procedure in a developing, poor, or underdeveloped country. Rich or poor the culture will make up and answer to questions that they do not know or you ask, the need to save face or not admit you know is bigger than the idea of saying, I do not know or am not sure.

They sell candles for 500 Niger Francs for that pack and I decided I needed them to go to these out of the way places, I really need some entertainment and I have one book. I am going to start reading the books I have on my computer in PDF files and save the actually regular book for when I read by candlelight.

670 Niger Francs equals one Euro
One Euro equals 1.22 Dollars more or less.

A good rule of thumb would be 500 Franc is one dollars U.S.A.

PDF DEFINED - I do not know the acronym meaning.
- A type of file that is easy to read the computer, it is created by the program Adobe Acrobat and is more or less a standard for Corporations. The Microsoft Word program is also a standard. The value of PDF file is that it does not scramble of change from computer to computer and stays the same to read.

Niger NGO

Niger NGO
September 3, 2005 8:20 AM Saturday

I am on day two of being in Niger, I feel like I have entered a convention of NGOs, Non Governmental Organizations, as I have not met one person here of western origin that is not from some organization. If fact they assume that when they me, they say,
-Who are you with?-

I am trying to be relaxed, however I am not sure what to say, there is a desire or I feel there is a desire for people to hear me explain some form of save the world philosophy or how I am going to help or what I am doing. I am never sure what to say as I feel presently like just one of thousands of people or organizations here, the place appears full of agencies to help the people of Niger. However that does not mean they have left the Hotel or the Restaurants and are actually out in the areas working, I have met one person that appears to be from the countryside and in the city for a little rest and relaxation, all the others are some acronym related organizations that somehow everyone assumed I understand.

I have been very fortunate and I have been explaining that I have a website and a blog and travel around the world; nobody has asked the name of the website, so I am under the radar. I am going to change my strategy today and say I am a tourist and stop volunteering any information more than they really ask. I believe they will all stop asking quickly so this is good, it does not seem to be a wanted person here the tourist, therefore I can be a tourist easily, and I can go and do as I please without any reasons or expectations of me. I have not had many people clearly explain the situation, although a place called - Maradi - is the recurring name I hear of a city or region that has a problem.

I was corrected last night by a woman from Boston who said, nobody would call this she says a Famine they would call it a -Food Crisis-.

I then looked, thought about it,
- What is a Food Crisis-?

I am annoyed, this is a nebulous and non-descriptive term, like saying I work in I.T., what I.T.? (Information Technology.)

Means nothing to me.

Food Crisis, is a general statement, I guess as I pushed along it mean there is a crisis with the food that has many problem. The number one problem is as best I can understand a malnourishment problem, hell asked her and I cannot tell you the problem. I can tell you that not all people are dying according to this person explanation, the people who are dying are the weak or unable to fend for themselves people. This means a child maybe between the ages of 2-5 or maybe 6 years of age, not breast feeding however not able to run around or scrounge around the place for food themselves, they need someone to help them survive. I also assume this means the sick or very old. Like a quick form of Darwinism where the week are culled from the pack quickly.

I have discovered that this is probably a problem that happens once every three or four years and the government stockpiles food so they can give food out when there is a shortage. However, there must be some type of problem or reluctance this time for the government to help correctly.

I was told and an I am trying to understand.

Some Journalist are turned back at the airport if they have a large bunch of cameras or equipment with them. I have not met any Journalist yet, however I am not able to move around easily yet, the people here are very aggressive and will try to ask a lot of money and they push hard. I am not excited to travel around, however today I will take a few taxis around to various parts of the city.

ATM or Bank Machines?
I have been told there are bank machines in the Guerre Hotel or something like that, I have to have someone write this word down, before I leave, at first it was thought to be in the Grand Hotel, some 100 dollars a night place and the one recommended in the Embassy of Niger in Cairo, wonder why nobody ever recommends a cheap place. I should go to the Grand Hotel and see who is checked into the place, probably the United Nations and for sure, I am cynical on how they live and contribute.

I would say the need is for doctors that is my guess, people that are capable of diagnosing various life threatening problems. Malnourishment is not an easy thing to see or understand and is not something you can just look at a person and say, hmm.. They do not have enough protein, they need more Vitamin A, B, or C or something like that, the problem of bad nutrition are from a long-term lack of eating right food, not the short-term idea of eating only rice for a week. I do not understand and I have spent year reading as much as I can about malnourished people, I have only saw one place on the planet where I think they ate so badly for so long that they had hair that was dry, bleak, and brittle, that was on the River Napo between Coca, Ecuador an Iquitos, Peru. That is the only place I would say, these people need something. I do see many people that have this wide-eyed, mongoloid type forehead that I understand to be a problem from the mother being alcoholic while carrying the baby, this look is very common in the world.

To me the lack of fast eyes, or a constant slowness of the brain functioning is a problem, I do not know what causes it and of course a slow person is a slow person that is how a slow persons brain functions however in some countries you feel as though there is slowness in the eyes that seem like the result of something undefined or not understood, like maybe there are chemicals in the water not know about.

I do not know.

This is a large economy size bag of rice sold in the local store, there were maybe 30 of these bags or more in the local place, so there is food here for sale, however I need to discover the price.

This is where I am living and for sure, I am living in luxury, my living quarters is great, nice front, we have guard at the entrance that jumps up and opens the gate or door every time I get near and are very friendly.

This is three signs on the corner as I walked to the internet café yesterday, they are grouped in one spot and this is the first corners I reached. I guess this is Catholic Relief Services, I cannot be bothered to learn all the agencies or there is no need as I can see to learn or worry about the agencies here in Niger as it seem the whole world is here already.

This is Family Care International, I am living in one of the neighborhoods that is considered fashionable or was one of the first nice neighborhoods built after the last big change in governments. I do not know what that means.

Chine or China I believe is represented, I do think there is nobody on the block that is not here out and about, I was told for sure that I here and I am still waiting for a guy from this organization to write me back, it has now been about five days, and nothing.

This is a drinking water filter, I am not sure how it works, I have seen this before, I am not sure I would trust, I better say, I do not trust this type of system, if I thought the water was bad, I would boil the water, this is more or less in my view a weak way of cleaning the water of small particles, I am not sure, the water taste ok here an I have now drank a few glasses from the tap as is my normal custom if the water taste ok, I did not drink the water in Cairo, Egypt much because of the large amount of Chlorine or some chemicals there in the water, the water here taste pretty good.

I do drink a lot of coffee and this is one of my major sources of water for my body, not the best way, however it is lightly boiled or brought to small boil. I have been brushing my teeth and drinking the water, if it is bad maybe and I highly doubt it I will soon be sick… hehehe, do not worry, I am not sick.

10-20 percent of the Vehicle here are the 30-50,000 dollars Toyota Land Rovers or whatever the correct name is for these large cars, the are all driving around with some type of decals on the sides saying from what organization they are associated.

Niamey Niger

Niamey Niger

Note: If an email to me is not obvious, I have no choice but to delete.
I am hoping this is just some dingaling in the cafe downloading music, that is causing me so much internet problems.

I am in the Internet Cafe and waiting, hoping I am able to at least empty my email box and send one post on the blog, the internet is so slow I am not sure what to do, I am sure at this speed I will have lots of troubles with writing people.

The computers, the office, the desks, are all very modern, the connection is slow, I hope I can return early in the day and it will be faster.

Niamey the Capital is interesting, it appears every save the world organization is here, I have seen many Toyota Land Rovers and this is out of place, however normal for the save the world crowd.

The girls home I am staying at works for some organization and this type of NGO or whatnot seems to be one of the going business occupations in the city as every corner has signs pointing at some organization. I will try to understand.

NOTE - The connection takes about 3 minutes per page, very difficult to read or write emails so far, maybe I can find a better connction, the strange part are the computers are all XP and very modern, the telephone connection seems horrible.

Arrived to Niamey Niger

9:30 AM Friday September 2, 2005

(The time is wrong, I do not know the time, I have changed so many time so quickly, I am only presently telling you so consistency.)

I am Niamey, Niger the Capital of Niger and I am pretty sure the biggest city in Niger, I believe the only place with an International Airport.

What great luck I have, as normal.

I entered the Airport from the plane and cleared the customs, and other strange characters disguised as official looking baggage carriers. The cost of the Taxi to the city was supposed to be 8 U.S. Dollars, which is maybe 5000 Niger French Francs, some CFM or some acronym for the money.

One Euro = 670 Niger money

Ok, nonetheless I walked up to the only Western faces in the bunch, which translates to she was a white girl with clear like eyes, more of the French look, a very nice girl by the name of Sara with two very happy men, I guess from Niger. I asked,
-Do you know a Hotel?-

She recommended a place she knew about, however I guess she has never stayed in a Hotel or Hostel here, a place that she said is the equivalent to the American Peace Corp; however, it is the French Peace Corp place.

AFVP on Maurice-Dezens
(Street or Rue- Streets seem to go by the French name or Rue.)

I then asked how much a taxi was to the city.
She said,
-500 or maximum of 1000-
This is again in the Niger Franc, so not a lot of money, at best three dollars U.S., not much but the Taxi Drivers and the Skycaps or Baggage Carriers were pushy, not easy to deal with, they have this copy of Arabic Culture thing of saying,
-Follow me.-

I have learned many times, do not follow, it is a mistake, it is an implied gesture by me, that I accept their help, and I now will owe them money, they then to the guilt extortion of money routine.

The baggage carrying guy inside or before I left wanted 20 Euros for walking with me, and annoying me, of course I paid nothing, I had no bags for him to carry, I only have my carryon, and he should pay me for annoying me.

I did not do my homework good, or was so focused on the Visa; I forgot to read the checklist of needs. There was a guy at the entrance that wanted a Yellow Fever Card or the card showing I had a short of vaccination for Yellow Fever, he did not accept that I got this in Ecuador, before I went into Brazil a few years ago, although I was telling him,
- I got the shot before, so you can allow me in if you wish because I am not a health problem and I am from America, I am not coming in from some Yellow Fever country -

NOTE: He said, there is a Penalty.
The penalty was 20 Euros, which I instantly paid and walked away, no receipt and happy to be away from this problem for only 20 Euros, I expected it could be as much as he wished to extract. 20 Euros was cheap as the shot would have cost me at least 12 Euros and hours of hassle in Egypt, so I was way ahead of the game.

I was told by Sara and friends that the cost of the Taxi was 1000 Niger Francs to the city, and everyone wanted 10,000 or minimum of 5,000, and she saw I was having trouble getting them below 5,000 so in the end, she looked at me about 10 minutes later as I was not going to pay 5,000 for a fare they said, max was 1,000 and I was in the game of offering 2,000 or double what they said was fair.

I was ready to go up to 3,000 when Sara came over and said she did not own the car but they could maybe take me to the city and drop me off where then I could easily get a car for 400 to the Hotel or Hostel. I do not know the status of Hotels here, is it a proper Hostel or a Hotel, I do not know.

I was willing to go to the acronym Hostel because she said it had a kitchen for me to cook, plus a bunch of Volunteers is what I need to learn about Niger Fast.

The girl or owner of the car finally arrived after she received here bags off the baggage carousel, I did not have a bag checked so I was on the fast track. However it was a girl I had said hello to in English before with very beautiful kinky black hair and western clothes, so I recognized the face, this was a good sign, she knew I was friendly before she was to take me to the city for free.

We went to the acronym hotel and they was full, then they took me down the road to what was suppose to be a Dutch hotel, they did not answer the door, all of this took longer, because I left out a lot of small stops.

We dropped off Sara and boyfriend from Niger at her home or concrete surrounded home. Most of the places I have seen are big steel swinging door places, where there is a concrete wall around the house and then a door that swings open in from the middle to allow a car to enter the compound. A very typical under-developed country method of protecting the home, cars and valuables.

It was about 2:30 AM in the morning, after midnight and very late, strangely when we very lightly tapped on the steel gates people came and talked with us, the guard at the acronym or French acronym Hotel came and told us about the other place, etc.

Finally my host or the great girl that arrived from Canada.
Mother from Burkina Faso
Father from Canada

She said,
- I have an extra room; you can sleep there, besides I want to go to sleep.-

So here, I am lying in my own room, a mosquito net over my head, a double bed made of the biggest piece of foam I seem in years, very comfy and nice, with a barred window.

The place or home is wonderful, a great home feeling. Modern and it has a guard or someone that came to the gate immediately when we drove up to enter.

Very modern for by developing standards.
- Mosquito screens on the barred windows - This is extremely rare to see a screen on a window anywhere in the world except the USA.

- French douche thing in the toilet.
- Painting on the walls of the home.

This is a wonderful place, I now have the bedroom door opened, hoping for the wonderful girl to come out from hibernation. She came from Canada and this could be anytime, because she has,
-Jet Lag-

I am sure her times should be mixed up.
I am getting rid or going to try to stop typing in the little double hash marks called quotations marks, I am going to replace with on each end with the dash
- Hello -

Because the quotations marks are turning into Chinese letters or some maybe, Arabic letters on these computers of Africa or Egypt. I really do not need this type of letter in my letters, blogs, or missives or whatnot and will take days and months to remove.

The would not be there if I was able use my computer directly or connect direct, however I will and 90 percent of the time connect with my thumb drive memory stick and then open the notepad to copy and paste into the system. The opening of the notepad in the African or Arabic computer is when the little blips or non-English type characters pop into, enter or invade the pages.

Bottom line:
Notepad from the Microsoft System or a text editor is NOT the same worldwide; it is dependent or related to the languages being used on the local internet computer.

Just when you thought my grammar, punctuation, and spelling was bad, it gets worst. This really makes me happy, I like to annoy people sometimes, I want them to think - outside the box - I want people to try to learn to see the essential facts or feeling I am trying to explain and stay away from the extreme specifics, they have to understand the gist to learn while traveling.

The very beautiful host of mine may speak a local language as here native language learned French as the language of the country and is speaking English as a courtesy to me, she is good in English or in my view, and she is exceptionally good in English. She knows the word - stuffy - as in the room is - stuffy - I would never learn this word first when learning French, these isolated words are the clues to level of language fluency, up there with understanding jokes and watching TV- oops Television, I need to not use acronyms in the same blog as I am complaining about them.

Mosquito screens are signs of development, a sign of not being developed are we stopped and purchase water on the way home last night, when the locals buy water not a good sign.

I was in this small car, probably French as France has their hands way up the skirts of Africa, and we were driving very slow… (Not normal for poorer countries, normal is as fast as possible.) in addition, going down very wide streets, maybe a four lanes or six-lane street, not a highway a city street, this is also very rare, most streets in developing countries cluttered. I keep remembering from the passenger side view as we were close to the edge of the dirt streets, there were -curbs- concrete curbs or there were places where I could define the edge of the streets, like they had already put in the curbs and now was waiting to put in or ready to put in concrete or maybe asphalt roads. This is good, streets with curbs, sewers maybe and all that is need for good sanitary conditions in a city.

I read the other night there was a Uranium mining time of prosperity for Niger, so this country had the equivalent of a Gold Rush, however with Uranium.

Black People Country
2:18 PM Thursday, September 1, 2005

I am in the Casablanca, Morocco Airport, I have a four hour wait, darn I really do not know, however I supposedly arrived at about 11:40 AM, and now I for sure have four hours. I am in what I call

This means I have not entered the passport country of Morocco and actually entered legally the country, however I am in the Country of Morocco and will never have a stamp, however I am here, I am not in Niger and I am no in Egypt, I am literally in Morocco however not totally.

I am walking around airport trying to find an internet café or maybe an ATM, I want to get some more Euros to carry into the country. I may actually enter Morocco legally if I find the ATM or Bank Machine will issue Euros. I have not found an Internet Café, I will check the wireless, however I will not pay with a credit card, so worthless.

However it has hit me, I am going to my first Black People Country, this will be maybe I think the first country where people are very black, I am sure they have few others, however the will be pure race of black people. This is really going to be great; I have never seen a whole country. The reason this is now obvious is there are many Black Africans sitting around the Airport, in fact I also need to learn French, the girl next me does not speak English, does not want Snickers I purchased and I do not know how to say.

What country are you from?

I did however save here seat, some group of people just came up and tried to move her stuff and take the seat, I save the chair. I now know the name of chair is “Chaise.”

I studied French for one year in University however have never really needed it, or wanted to use it however I think I am going to have a 19 day French Lesson, I do not expect anyone to speak English in Niger.

Do you know the Black people are Blacker in Africa; there was so much diluting of the Race in the Slaves that the color is usually less black or maybe closer to cream sometimes, according to how much those masters had sex with their slaves.

I am sure I will step on a few toes, however let us not talk about culture or say the obvious, this is a great trip, and I am getting very excited.