Niger Travel Stories, Page 7

Zinder Niger

Zinder Niger
Zinder Niger West Africa
Friday, October 6, 2006

11 Hour in a bus, 9100 CFA and I have traveled from Dosso to Zinder in relative comfort compared to the Peugeot Cattle Cars. A full size bus even with no air conditioning is more comfortable.

I miss Natitingou, Benn, Niger is obviously mentally at the bottom of the HDI Human Development Index, and it is a drop of the ball here.

Dry and lot of Millet, the amount of acres farms here seems to have doubled. However, it is almost only the Mil or Millet crop, but grown on what I would say is a commercial level.

I am thinking, why does every French ex-colony here sell Baguettes and Benets, the French food. These countries are locked in a mindset. The malnutrition problem, maybe worst in Niger is really all the countries. I think it is easier here to drive and find the people, while in Benin, Togo, Ghana or Cote d’Ivoire it would be difficult to go into the bush or logged areas. Niger is very flat, so are the other countries, but the water is more prevalent and the people can live in difficult locations because there is more water.

The food groups are almost the same, less in Niger, but not substantial, in fact they have more beef and goat for sure. They have donkeys and oxen for carts. It seems in many ways more advanced. The food West Africa grows to eat is probably what the French planet; I do not see much adaptation to anything. There are so many peppers it is ridiculous, if I understand correctly one of the first and primary reason to come was to get spices, and lots of pepper. It is all but worthless here, but they still try to sell it.

I am going to meet with a man by the name of Josef with the Eden Foundation, then get on a bus and go to Ghana or Burkina Faso.

I do not need to see Niger again to know the problem here with malnutrition; all the countries I have visited in West Africa have the same problem. I am not so positive on Cote d’Ivoire, seemed like better farmers.

The farming need to change, they need to grow many crops instead the same they have been doing for years. The problem the western countries see is not a problem for the Niger people, a high percentage of children have always died, which is normal. Therefore, there is not problem here in the minds eye of the culture, just in the mind of the NGO ONG and anybody that thinks it too high of percentage. On the other hand, the Vitamin Deficit children are some very slow brains on the planet, getting them the last place of the HDI.

Zinder Niger

Niger Transportation in Cattle Car

Niger Transportation
Dosso Niger West Africa
Friday, October 6, 2006

I am 90 percent sure, I have gone from a fight for a Cattle Car Peugeot world of transportation to and I can buy a ticket and travel easy world. This is great; the poorer country is going to have the better transportation system. However, there is a lot less cities and easier to do I suppose. Cattle cars still exist, however, I had to buy a ticket in Gaya to get in the car, and then they did NOT pick up one person. It was a city-to-city car trip; everyone in the car went the distance. Like nobody was traveling only to the market and packed with junk.

This means I can travel very fast and get out Niger fast. On the Visa Entente tour, Niger is low on the needs to see list, the Turag culture is special an Agadez is special city on planet, nothing like a Camel market to let you know you are at the end of the world. I think though a person can easily do all of Niger in less than 5-10 days and not even work hard. I will be in Zinder on the second day in the country. I could be in Niamey then on the third of fourth if I was anal. I will hang around Zinder for at least 2 nights, then go to Niamey, find transportation to Burkina Faso and say goodbye. I know Niger from last year, not much to see in Niamey and full last time of, I do not want to think about NGOs because they make me angry. NGO Disaster Area is Niamey.

I can buzz over to Burkina Faso, say I was there, spend 5-10 days then go down into Ghana. I need to get another Ghana Visa in Niamey, I WISH I would have got the multiple entry visa. I will then wonder down into Ghana, maybe I go down Cote d’Ivoire, but the north is suppose to have some UN United Nations barrier or no mans land because of conflicts problems. I would rather go down Cote d’Ivoire, but Ghana is ok also, I will skip over to Ivory Coast probably to hook up with the Vatican in Ivory Coast.

I need to decide, do I fly to somewhere and come back. I really need a Satellite connection to travel in Africa like I do, I do not want to use, but if I did have one, I could not go to Agadez and hope a camel ride toward Mali or Mauritania or somewhere, and blog on the way.

I an if I want, really go to the desert, I am close to the Sahara, and at the end of the planet for LP, where the guidebooks stops.

Flying in and out of Africa is the problem, if I had a round trip ticket it would maybe be better, but not for me.

The bus leaves at 6:30 from Dosso Niger and arrives in Zinder about 4:30 in the afternoon. 2 hours later than I like, but I have been to Zinder before, so I know more or less how to travel. They had motorcycle taxis in Zinder the last time, this is excellent and cheap.

Niger Transportation

Niger Peanut Butter

Niger Peanut Butter
Dosso Niger West Africa
Friday, October 6, 2006

I went to one of the most unique markets in my travels of the planet. It was by accident, I walked out of the Au Zenith Hostel, turned right on the street, walked across and towards a neighborhood where I could see some interesting architecture. I think it was a Mosque; I do not like to try to photograph or go near Mosque as they do not have a gentle nature about them and can be problems.

However, as I was walking, I seen this convoluted, woven, intertwined mess of people, tree limbs, pot, pans, and who knows what. I started to walk through and saw leave, packed round balls of this, and that, and I thought I was in some herb shop in San Francisco, where they would sell hippies placebo cure-all for all ailments, and tea on the side. I do not know what I was looking at, and that is what made market unusual and unique. In West Africa, if you have seen fish and pimas (Peppers) you have seen a market, of course a few women with their tops down, and flopping. It is never the young gorgeous ones.

I see brown, maybe like cow crap, mixing up, a light brown paste, what is this, I am always nervous in markets. Especially after you see rats for sale like in Laos or funky this and that, never know, if they get poor enough they may sell you a sparrow. Niger is supposed to be maybe on the bottom of the ladder, last in line, poorest of the poor. However, this market had some pineapples. I am not sure, poor does not mean they do not have food; they may not have money, a huge difference.

Homemade or Natural Peanut Butter made in Dosso, Niger.

This should make the au natural eat something with no preservatives, and all the veggie, vegan wanna be healthy people happy.

Small plastic bag with peanut butter inside, it cost 25 France or less than about 10 cents US, or less.

The Marche or Market of Dosso, Niger was a highlight of my trip, around 5:00 in the afternoon, I got to stroll around, laugh, joke with the locals and see what they are up to. There French is weak, their smiles were big, they environment seem ready for a movie to be made.

I went in search of a water bottle; I have started noticing some of the men carrying this bottle on a string, like a traveler’s bottle, made to carry. I have been musing and dwelling again, I am thinking, these Turag and desert dwellers need to carry water. They would not spill or allow the water to spill under any condition. They must protect it at all cost, how do they do this. In an old world, they had these goatskin bags, and I could by them I believe in Agadez. I am not going to drink from goatskin, so what is their modern adaptation and how does it work. I want a bottle that does not leak, light, lots of water, and I need to carry 1-2 gallons, that is a lot.

Oh well, I will dwell, roam around and see what I can find, this market in Dosso is unique, I could walk around, poke around, and ask many questions. Until I discovered, it that tobacco, what is that, why, explain, what language to do you speak. Can I take photos, will you call the anti-photo police, be obnoxious or will you have fun with me.

They all seem interested because I was interested.
I met two Peace Corps people in the Marche or Market, they was buying something and looking dazed or hot. It got up to 40 Centigrade yesterday according to my made in China not to be trusted temperature gauge, but it was hot, who knows. The Niger Peace Corps I believe speaks Hausa, I am not sure if they speak French, the girl I met also in the bus station said she spoke Hausa, the language you really need to talk to Niger people, not French.

I have about a 90 percent guess chance if I say Peace Corps is they are younger, around 20 and white, they are probably Peace Corps, if they are smoking a cigarette it is some nebulous who knows what NGO-ONG up to questionable activities person.

Nigeria is close, less than 100 miles or kilometers, there is a rood going directly over to Nigeria, however there are many, I do not know if it is an open border crossing or not.

Niger has a problem with Vegetable, Nigeria has many people, and Benin has some good veggies, both would probably ship up vegetable if the Niger people had some money. In the end, all is possible on the planet if you have money, if there is money, a person that wants, they will ship it to you eventually.

Niger so far reminds me of some old west hot and dusty cowboy town, where there are some lazy, hot men with their legs up in the air waiting. Waiting and waiting, not as if anyone looks motivated.

The one girls from Peace Corps, Sheena is here name was a black girl, I went into this Alex Haley, Roots, get back family, who am I, I am black, I was pulled out Africa, how to I know my family roots.

I do not know, they were hot, I was excited and happy, and I would love to be a black person in Africa. It would be like tracking down my mother after being and orphaned in some Charles Dickens, David Copperfield book, made into a movie plot.

I wonder if the Peace Corps people just want to put in their time, and get the resume stamp, or they are actually curious. They are young, I am amiss to see how they can give much, they have little to give, they have about a 20-year-old person life experience, not a person I go to immediately to ask advice, unless I want to know fashion or the latest music.

S.C.O.R.E. Senior Core of Retired Executives, this would be the people to send over to Niger and these poor countries, some very old hooter, who has too many life experiences.

SCORE is some small business administrative beg for money help to apply for small business loans SBA, advisors. It may be Senior Corps, I cannot find in encyclopedia, who knows if it still exists.

Niger is a very safe country, maybe on the annoying side, many people lying around doing nothing, however still a nice and safe place in a who would come here world. I would think the best person to want to come here is someone fascinated with the Indians of Arizona, and then they would be right at home. Hot, culturally extravagant, full of strange desert items, and people who just do not know much about anything. The literacy rate is below the meter reading, and in the total guess range in my opinion, it is a fact, that most facts are not facts when you start to learn country facts, they are guesses. Or a plea to give me money, look at the fact, we are the poorest.

I am glad about Niger, if this is as bad as it gets, then the world is actually in very good shape.

Niger Peanut Butter

Visa Touristique Entente

Visa Touristique Entente

Dosso Niger West Africa
Thursday, October 5, 2006
Malanville Benin / Gaya Niger Border

(Visa Touristique Entente or Tourist Visa Entente)
Malanville, Benin - Gaya, Niger Border Crossing

You have 60 days to enter a Visa Touristique Entente
country, then once you enter a Visa Touristique Entente country you have then 60 more days to travel and to use the Visa.

Visa Touristique Entente - This is the Visa that is put in your passport when you purchase. It is to allow you entry to Cote d’Ivoire, Togo, Benin, Niger, Burkina Faso, however did not work for Niger. I am from the USA, we do not need Visa to Cote d’Ivoire, therefore we can fly in to Abidjan, get the Visa at the Benin Visa, they travel to Ghana, Togo, Benin, except the problem. Niger did NOT honor the Visa.

Togo Visa Stamp as I entered country of Togo. September 9, 2006 is when I started my Visa by entering Togo, the first country in the Visa Touristique Entente list. I then should have to November 9, 2006 more or less; it can only be 60 days inside the group of countries.

I went over this with the Benin Embassy; they said no problem, that the Visa will start the 60 days when I entered Togo. No good.

Visa Touristique Entente Advertisement, and even in the office in Niamey, Niger. This photo taken in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire in the Benin Embassy.

I was made to pay 20,000 CFA to purchase a 30-Day visa to enter Niger today, this smells to me of corruption. I entered Togo and started my Visa on 9 September 2006.

I have a Visa that as I double-checked with the Benin Embassy in Abidjan, I have from August 2 to October 2 to enter and start the visa, after that I have 60 days to travel.

Because it is the fifth of October today they refused to accept, the man said in English,
- Take the Easy Way. -

Smells of corruption to me, and for sure if you apply for a Visa Entente you have to know that it can be problems. This is Africa, all things simple become problems. I am not sure they ever seen a Visa Entente before. The great part is they did not try to send me back to Contonou or something stupid, It was obvious from the start they was looking for a gap in the Mexican find a way to get money method.

I was going to stay in Malanville Benin and then go to Gaya Niger, the next day, another instance of the person writing the guide driving a car, I did find however, two hotels, but more boom boom bang the girls and loud music bars. There are many cheap hotels, that are for the men to bring their extra girl, drink and do boom boom.

Directions given to me by the Benin Embassy, very nice people, in Niamey to the office that handles Visa. I was told they would give me a refund. I hit a dead end; they were determined not to listen.

I went to Niamey, eventually and complained at the D.S.T office in Niamey. The person in charge Souley Djofffo said,
- Niger, we have our ways of doing things. -
I said,
- This is not about Niger; it is about Tourism and the agreement with four other countries to honor a one-visa system to encourage tourism. -
He said,
- Niger does not obey the rules of other countries. -
I said,
- But, Niger was in agreement, to establish this… -

He was impossible, just wanted to be in charge, or the boss, nothing to with listening. Now, Niger has about a 15 percent literacy rate, this mean that anyone and everyone I talk to have almost no ability to read.

Visa Touristique Entente

Airport Secularism in Morocco

Airport Secularism in Morocco
9:29 AM September 19, 2005 Monday

The Islamic religion is interesting to observe, much like the differences between Catholics, Baptist and Protestants in the Christian Religion, you have many forms of Islam.

I have entered the Airport and the Country of Morocco, I had no choice I guess, and I needed to receive the Morocco pass to retrieve or try to retrieve my luggage. However as I walk around aimlessly for the next eight hours it is interesting to see the changes of the Islamic Clothing in the Airport. The airport has a social pressure; most people feel a need to dress up a little more, be a little more distinguished and for sure do not act like a hick.

This translates into the action of the Islamic women, they tend take off the complete face covers and I have not seen many times women that had to have been covered completely before now walking around in what is similar to a Choir Robe. I am always curious, did I see this person before, and is she a persons eyes I saw before. The second and not my culture so I do not understand is the covered mother and the stylish daughter, the mother can look fully dressed up in the religious dress, and the girl looks like she has been reading Glamour Magazine too much.

Strangely, the men seem to become more religious in many aspects except for the desire to enter the Duty Free Shop and buy liquor. However, I see many people praying in the most obvious locations and when I am in the Islamic countries you almost never see them pray, unless you are sort of looking for it.
My friend Babanguida from Zinder is good kid, 20 years old and I kept saying to him that he should get a wife. I pointed at the pretty fully dressed Islamic girls and he would say,
- No Islamic-
Why, you are Islamic
- Too Complicated -

I am not sure what he means, however in Christian terms, there are some Holy Roller girls that would carry their bibles with them to the pool, and I would say this is too complicated also.

I keep trying to resolve or think through Niger in my mind, whatever the case, I believe the country is a little on the small side, 10 Million people and I should always encourage. Here is a second from the bottom on the HDI Index.

The Human Development Index

This mean they are very lowly developed Humans or something like that, it is very hard to believe they are that low, in some ways the country is very high in my mind, however it is the lack of education where they are low for me. I have to admit I have never seen so many people with zero schooling. This is the first country I have ever entered where a taxi driver could not read the address and take me there.

No-Mans Land Niger

No-Mans Land Niger
12:06 AM Monday September 19, 2005

I am past the passport control, and have not left the country literally, I am in no-mans land, the place between countries.

I turned on my wireless internet access just to check the Airport here in Niamey, Niger; the world is a strange place sometimes so for kicks I checked the Wireless access in Niger. It does not have internet access; of course, I am in an Airport that feels like Mike Tyson is managing and designed for humor by Eddie Murphy. This place is a kick, I am going to have to come up with another label for the African way of doing thing, in South America they have what I call the - Manana Syndrome - however they have something similar with an African Culture twist. I suppose they have the same slow speed or slower, however the Latinos are always trying to promise or assure you, no problem, tomorrow, just wait, it is ok. The African Manana is more like let me sit look around, there is a person over there that wants to talk to me, at least I think there, I will go check. Nothing functions and there is not even a façade put up, Airport are a normal place where the countries puts all it people that can as close as possible represent the world on the same western universal Airport standard. There is really nothing more sterile than an Airport, I have a hard time remembering any Airport, nothing unique about an airport, the bigger the more gates, the more lines, the more carts, the more escalators. That is what the Niamey Airport needs an Escalator.

I cleared customs, and passport control and a man holds out his hand, well in an airport there are many checks so I start to show my boarding pass and passport. Oops, the man is holding out a bracelet, he is a street jewelry salesman that sort of lets the people queue past him.

I am happy to be in Niger, I am happy to leave Niger; there is a definite lure to the idea of driving through Africa and not taking the buses. It is interesting for Niger that all the NGOs drive cars, normally in South America or Asia driving a car by a western person is suicide, just hard to get used to the rules of Chaos driving.

The streets are very wide, the country is very safe, there is little robbery and you cannot find a police officer to pay a bribe to, it is the perfect country for an NGO. They can come here, drive them cars, live in comfort and totally avoid the people. This is an interesting aspect of Niger; it is very possible to avoid the people if you have a vehicle, to say the least, I did not because I took the buses, taxis and motorcycles.

I have a ridiculous day of Airplanes, all night to Casablanca and then a layover of about 10 hours, the fly to Cairo arriving at about midnight. If we flew directly from here to Cairo the trip would take about 4 hours, instead I have almost 24 hours, about the normal time to go all the way home. There is this comment I hear about inter-Africa flights, however I have not sussed out any type of patterns to the country. I guess there is one; you can fly down from Casablanca south, or south from France to Casablanca, then south.

Optimism in Niger

Optimism in Niger
Sunday, September 18, 2005 11:07 AM

I am laying outside the internet café on the bench in the very safe country of Niger. There is nobody here until one PM, so I must read my book and allow time to pass.

It suddenly hit me, I am in the SECOND WORST COUNTRY on the planet after Sierra Leone. This is wonderful, if this is as bad as it gets, this mean the whole world is in great shape.

This place is boring as hell, nobody has any motivation, however what do you expect. This is the HDI - United Nations Index or Human Development Index next to last place contender of Nation. It is a nation losing, however it is really just a country who is not motivated to accomplish much on their own, like your cousin Harold, a great guy, sits around watching “I love Lucy” runs, comments on everything, however never seems to keep a job. A good guy, does not cause trouble, however you are not going to call him when you need to borrow ten dollars until pay day. A dollar short and a day late, this is Niger in a nutshell. The NGOs can have the place, they will eventually run of bleeding hearts and non-issues to make into issues.

I am very happy.
I did not find anyone in Niger Starving to Death.

I hope my reasoning is sound…
- If I cannot find it here, then it don’t exist. -

I have never seen starvation in eight years, I have seen many a country in my middle class, made in American eyes, people living in a place I would never consider and fortunately not have to consider home.

Leaving On a Jet Plane

Leaving On a Jet Plane
Sunday, September 18, 2005 6:34 AM

I am leaving on a Jet Plane; do not know when I will be back again.
- John Denver

I am very happy to leave Niger, I am getting very bored here in Niamey as this is just a city and not very interesting, however for me the Cow culture of Zermou and small villages of Niger is extremely interesting. I also have a longing to learn more about the Camel Caravans of the Tuareg people.

However, I have no idea how to avoid the NGOs or to just stay away from them; it is like a parasite on the country. I really find I am incapable of not thinking about problems in Niger because every sign I see on the street, every person or non-Niger person I meet is working on some problem or mostly just talking, I have not seen any long-term solutions implemented in the country, I suppose the signs on breast milk and babies with A.I.D.s or S.I.D.A is a solution, however I personally have only seen acute solutions to immediate death problems by the Red Cross and Doctors without Borders. Other than that, it appears to be a country that functions very poorly, however this would make sense, and it is on the HDI list at second from bottom.

On the other hand, this is country is not so poor, it is pretty high on my list of countries, I am not feeling sorry for them, I for the most part think they need to work more and stop crying the blues. Then again, the NGOs are not helping and are creating beggars. I am ready to leave, there is little to do here of effective work, give me 50,000 dollars and I will buy advertising in the Hausa language on the major radios for a few months and put up signs in all the major cities. Let me think… each sign should cost about 100 Dollars, then the cost to distribute, I would say there are six major population centers in Niger, there is about 30 smaller villages around them, so to market to the whole country of Niger would take.

20 signs per major city.
2 per smaller city.

6 x 20 is 120 signs for major cities.
180 smaller cities.

I need about 300 signs and because we always underestimate, we need 400 or 500.

500 time 100 dollars per sign is 50,000 Dollars another 100 dollars per sign to put them up so I guess it would take 100,000 dollars to make them illustration signs where there is like a cartoon to show…

“Grow Vegetables and Fruits or your children die!”
List them out, tell them where to buy or get them free.

I believe that if you tell them the solution.
Tell them their children will die if they do not do grow certain foods.
Give them the seed or plant starts.

- JOKE - This is a joke, I do not steal.
So.. I steal five of them big United Nations or World Vision SUVs, we sell them for one-fourth the money, and we then have enough money to tell them to eat their veggies.

Note for those nay Sayers, I was a Large Real Estate Broker in the USA and had over 100 signs made and distributed. I was paying 14 dollars per hour to have them put up and I can pay here about 10 dollars per day, and it is still 9 times more than the national average pay.

I wander where I can get a one of them cement truck like vehicles from the USA that are 6 wheel drive. I am always amazed at the Cement trucks in the USA and where they can drive, it is really a great vehicle and would be perfect here in Niger for going to the small village with tons of supplies, of course we do not need a cement hopper, you need a dump truck back on the end, however you need the chassis of the Cement Truck.

I think the Doctors without Borders from France wanted 57 million for Niger as I read on CNN, I was in a hurry, so maybe not correct and I am typing from memory. However, for a long-term solution, they could spare a couple hundred thousand to educate the people.

OK we forget the radio, there is no sticky marketing to Radio, it is a big payment and no staying power, and I am in favor of only signs. I can commission one them no cooking over open flames or the AIDS mother sign people, they already know where and who to pay too much to make signs.

Not fond of the idea of wood signs in this country, they need to keep their trees; maybe we can find a composite plastic.

Oh well, so much for Niger, I am off to Egypt, I have a date in Mumbai, India and need to hurry.

These people can save themselves or die; I guess they have a choice.

I guess the NGOs can help them lose their desire to work and help them to die.

There is nothing more effective than taking a good worker and having him work for some Government or Non-for profit organization and turning the person into a big blob of non-working meat. I really hate when people learn to do nothing and be paid for it. I on the other hand like to do nothing, think very hard and get paid for it.

It does not take a genius to make money working 16 hour days, however it does take a genius to work 2 hours per day, travel around the planet, and live anywhere and everywhere he wishes. I am so grateful to be born to smart parents, which live in a small town, worked in factories, and told me to go work. I suppose working on a farm for 8 summers of my life helped a lot, plus the couple of years of being a cement worker.

I wonder if any of these NGO workers have every worked Construction.

I am laughing to myself, the world is full of people who need labels, and I had a General Contractors license in the USA that would allow me to build a building up to 100 stories, to say the least, not a small license.

I am amazed though on how much crap information there is on the planet, I have this guy Pelle that keeps saying he is not this or that that and it is obvious he knows more than the ones with the labels.

I have zero degrees of schooling in computer or the internet; I have never taken a class in anything to do with computers or marketing. I will say I am for sure a 100 percent expert in the internet. However, I probably could not get a job with Microsoft because I do have a piece of paper. This is the wonder of the internet, only takes aptitude not money or a piece of paper.

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