Niger Travel Stories, Page 9

MY Niger Shame

MY Niger Shame

This man came up to my window, everyone comes to my window, he was doing exactly what I would wish a person to do, try to live, work, and sell his product. I was hot, had no water, worked helping to get the bus through the sand. I was thinking about water.

I pointed my finger, said in harsh finger pointing terms. Leave me alone, I then looked close, he was a man of respect, trying to do his job.

I was lucky, he came back around the window, I negotiated a good fair price, not a pay to make them happy price, a fair price for me and for him. I do nothing for guilt, however I apolgized for my actions in the only communications we had.

Naw Goody - Thank you in Hausa.

It is not possible to be a saint, the road to Salvation is long and narrow like a Razors Edget.
- Somerset Maughn

The two made me remember, you came to help, not to hurt, first do not harm. I could hide in the air conditioning and never have this moral dilemna. I could be above it or below it in my mind, the moral road is a path I try to steer, I am not sure, sometimes the grey areas makes it hard to walk.

No Shovels in Niger

No Shovels in Niger
9:15 PM Thursday September 15, 2005

Sometime people step on their… NOSE
(I will leave out the correct word.)
Sometimes they jump up and down on it.

I am hard pressed to know how the drivers of trucks in Niger can just trample or smash the poor thing.

I have now witnessed and been personally involved in three road trips that are hard to fathom. There are two characteristics of poor countries that are usually the same.

1. They do not plan or think of the consequences, they seem incapable of anticipation of problems.

2. Time is not considered part of the plan - The Manana Syndrome.

I watched a semi truck plow into the sand bank yesterday.

I was amazed, he did not even slow down, run ahead, check the path, or even consider that maybe he would be in that truck sitting in the sun for two days trying to get the truck dug out of the sand.

One does this, then the next one come around and does the same, then soon there are three, four, or many doing the same. They can really smash their little dingy.

Here is a photo of three vehicles all bogged down in the sand, I am very happy that bus is not mine, there were two buses, my bus was in front of the other in the queue and luckily my driver did not jump in and plow into the sand, or I suspect I would still be on the bus, and not typing in this room in Niamey.

I think this is what happened.

The middle truck stopped coming up the hill and slid off, the second on or the one on the right plowed around hoping to go through and got stuck.

Sadly, there were maybe 200 people here and they could have easily pushed the second truck out of the bog, if they were not so lazy. There is no natural instinct here to help another person in trouble, everyone is helping himself or herself and does not help anyone but themselves.

Me and the Military person, which spoke some English, were walking around reconnoitering the area. My bus was going down hill so the options were better than those coming up the grade. We looked at one long route that was being made by some small vehicles successfully. There was a route where now the bus is sitting that to me was never a choice for exactly the problem you see he left part of the bus has dropped. Now follow the leader mentality is the problem here, small cars were making it, so the bus decided to try.

There was an old man, who between him, I, the Military guy however for the most parts this man below:

This man is a solution.

He had a little peaked hat, like the Chinese or similar on, however came off an I hung on bush.

This man had some tools. I cannot believe these trucks only had one broken shovel between all of them, there had to be at least 25 trucks. This is why I say they do not plan ahead. They do have these steel planks, however not much of solution for the major problems, you need 10 shovels, and 10 axes minimum to pay and work your way through this mess.

Note the big U.N. Trucks would just plow around in their SUVs and not stop; these trucks are loaded with food and supplies!

I helped on two of the paths, carried many stones; however, the bus drivers are not very smart and cannot really deal with this type of problem. The truck driver are even more addle brained and as best I can tell there is no road crews working twenty four hours to fix this, so they plow into the hills hoping to go, then follow the leader.

This man is a solution.

This is some soldier type man who was actually trying to think, me the man in black with the tools and the Soldier man all three decided to start on the path that worked. The bus drivers and many other chose the wrong path, however, the old man, I did not take a photo, plus a small worker, and a few that could see this problem clearly chose the correct route. Sadly, all of the routes could have worked if they would take the 200 people standing around and tell them to get to work.

Pusee is the word in French for PUSH. I am not going to say what I think of them; however, it rhymes with the word.

I was trying to get translated.
Get off your lazy A#%es and help!

There were many with cell phones, one with a Satellite Phone, and many what I would say are leader of this nation, note the one French Girl with Black boyfriend in tow did not help, and either did the ugly French lady coming from Arlit, everyone just looks at this as somebody else save me, the problem with the world, nobody will get dirty.

I think I could have solved this quickly if I spoke French, I was very angry with the lazy people on the buses that would just sit there. I do have to admit there were some very big fat women on the bus with children. This is the class system of Niger at work, nobody wants to work now.

The Soldier came up to my window and he hope my travel were good, we shook hands and said goodbye.

I took photos of the man above; we were out in front of the bus as it plowed through our path we made successfully. He came and shook my hand; I took a couple of photos of him. He was not even on my bus; he was a man from nowhere that came out of nowhere to help. He saw a problem and realized it needed a solution, and he knew the solution. The solution was too easy.


He worked, I worked, the Soldier worked, however we were all looking and anticipating problems, consequences, thinking ahead. While one huge truck full of food and supplies plowed into a bank of sand around us.

I see this man in black as a hero a man to emulate, and man to venerate to make a boss, hopefully to believe that being the boss is to work more to be the example for many, to set the pace. I kept working myself; I tried to set a pace so the other would not stop. I was thirsty and had no water, I did not want to sleep on this bus with a bunch of fat women, they eat too much meat and they stink.

Self-preservation is a big motivation for me also, however we got our bus through, I am sure a few other made it down the hill; I doubt any made it up the hill.

I saw a bulldozer of Cat Brand in the village of Tanhoua as we drove through, I am not sure what is happening, I do not understand why, sometimes you think, why do you jump up and down on your thingy, why do not you work together. There is not this poor nice person here that helps his neighbor; they are all just helping themselves. Sadly, it seems simple, 200 people standing around can move a mountain, and a bus would be simple to push out of the sand with 200 people.

The organization that could solve the problems of Niger has been here for hundreds of years that are obvious.

Road Problems in Niger

Road Problems in Niger
7:40 AM September 15, 2005 Thursday

I have been trying to think of ways to explain Culture or how to evaluate cultures of the world. This is subject that is extremely difficult, I reflect on my Philosophy classes and studies of the French person Rene Descartes, he applied a process of thinking of total - Doubt - or - Methodological Doubt-

The German Photographer Ralf Maro commented,
- NGOs are a Playground for Pseudo Scientist -

Ralf Maro Photographer from Germany - Monday September 5 as told to me in the small restaurant near the Jojo Market and across from the Evacion Restaurant.

There is a dangerous precedent being set that is destroying possibly whole countries cultures and economies. The problems of Niger as best I can suss out in my for sure, not critical analysis or simply a project for the Indiana Purdue University Agriculturalist to solve, which foods can be grown in Niger that will provide the proper nutrients to stop mal-nutrition problems.

I think the problems probably are in a huge report on some shelf in the office of some United Nations idiot. However now the people need to discover where on the planet the same problems occurred and apply the same solutions. There is never the unique problem on the earth; it is always a repeat of history.
This all started because I am thinking about how stupid a problem there are in the roads of Niger. If a person analyzes the country in a string of thread or maybe the proper term is deterministic way, then you will see a causal relationship between all problems. One beget the net, influences the next, and by the time you are to the end, there is nothing.

I just traveled in the last 15 days from Niamey to Maradi, from Maradi to Zinder, from Zinder to Zermou and back to Zinder, then from Zinder to Agadez. From Agadez to Niamey by bus.

Here is a map:

I about croaked at some of the logistic problems:

If the French Version of Médecins Sans Frontières has been here for 10 years, and so has World Vision, Oxfam and most of these groups, then why is the only way to get to some of these cities stopped by small stretches of highway blocking the road.

The United Nations goes by big four-wheel drive SUV to inspect an area, many times the problem is so simple as there are small stretches of road where the large truck get stuck in the sand.

I am annoyed as I receive terribly silly answers to simple problems suggested to me by people sending emails. For instance, I say many ridiculously amounts of times that I cannot make telephone calls, it is easier to use the internet. However, on a daily basis, someone says, call here, or call there, or use your cell phone. By the time, I arranged and got a cell phone to work in Niger properly, and the only good use would be to call my parents, nothing to do with Niger, then I can go to the place. A person from England says she emailed and called a travel agency on the internet in Zinder to help me go to Zermou. I really only wanted to know that the place was actually called - Zermou - and not - Zermo -. She tries to make contact with a contact of a contact… aagh, forget this, it is not the solution, they are the problem.

I gambled correctly and the place is Zermou and not Zermo as she originally sent me, if I would have proceeded to follow the guidelines as she sat down or thought would work I would have seen nothing. Instead, I commissioned two Motorcycles to take a difficult trip from Zinder to Zemou, because hell or high water I was going to see one small village they said is a problem area.

The stupid part is the difference between efficient, lazy, and effective. Most of these groups spend millions of dollars to report a problem, define a problem and some of these problems could be stopped immediately with a few thousand dollars of well-placed money. Some targeted patches could fix some critical and essential problems.

In construction terms, I think they need some Punch Out workers, or a workers that comes in and fixes some small stupid problems and stop working on such monstrous problems.

Solving many of these problems is like the ugly guy in the book the Ugly American where he takes a bike and shows them how to pump water; he did more good quicker than all the Embassy workers in the world.

Take a problem.
Isolate the problem.
Start to see how many other problems influence the problem.
Make a list of all the small problems that stops the solutions.
Fix the easy ones first and proceed to the smaller ones.

It is an application of the Rene Descartes - Methodological Doubt - Analysis to these problems, working only on the certain problems for the long-term.

Sorry to say, these children have been dying of Mal-Nutrition and will continue to die of Mal-Nutrition, I do not see any solutions. I only see the NGOs coming in and putting band-aids on a problem that will be here again next year.
A small task force of super intelligent construction workers could get half of these problems solved quickly. Men that will work in the sun, bake off their butts and not complain.

Agadez to Niamey Niger Bus

Agadez to Niamey Niger Bus
10:04 PM Wednesday September 14, 2005

I left the Hotel in Agadez, Niger at 5:45 AM and arrived at the Hotel here in Niamey at about 9:30 PM. It was a long day, however quite interesting in many ways. I am very tired and very dirty because of carrying rocks to create a road to pass when we became snarled in a mess of trucks stuck in the sand on a detour.

Photos of Power and Respect of Niger

Photos of Power and Respect of Niger
September 13, 2005 5:00 PM

This young man in Zinder would walk by, raise his fist, and point at me, at first, it gave me the willies, and then Rabi explained, this is a sign of respect. He pointed the fist above his head, and sometimes he held his to hands together interlocked, saying friends. Obviously, he is in western clothes and could be a person on the streets of Los Angeles; however, this man is in Zinder, Niger. Sometimes it is hard to remember how respect and a friendly smile works.

This is a typical field in the lower half of Niger that grows food adequately, they have Millet with either Peanuts or Beans growing mixed inside the Millet.

Rabi said to me, this girl wants you to take her to America with you, not a bad thought.

She was carrying this on her head, this is a mix of I believe a Millet type cake substance with beans mixed inside, it is a very typical type meal in the Villages between Zermou and Zinder Niger.

The little cuts on her cheeks are part of the Hausa Tribe traditions, however not all have them and there is also this type of cut from the Nigeria country, very complicated to figure out the various cuts.

This old woman was standing in a doorway in a small village between Zinder and Zermou; she gave me the respect sign.

The path to Zermou was a big rut, one time I just bent over and thought; sometimes Niger is in a rut and does not know how to get out of the rut.

This is some type of food I encountered one time in Niger on the path between Zinder and Zermou. I do not know what it is.

This girl was great; she would jump up and then pushes down on the water handle. The one spokesperson for this village forced me to walk over to this pump and he proceeded to help me wipe off the dirt from my shoes. Rabi gave me the look; you must respect him and allow him to clean the mud off your shoes.

At this village, we ate this bowl of Yogurt or some lightly curded milk substance, it was good, and however I would like it cold.

Cute girl with grass in hands.

Rabi would say, natural beauty of Niger, I think he has read about the fake girl parts of the USA.

I photographed this little boy as he slept, or maybe girl, however it was the waistband I was noticing, there is a similar type waistband on the Hindu people of India or a band. I was told it was for diarrhea; however, I do not think so, maybe.

The natural beauty of Niger for sure, the children.

A cute little girl in the Village of Zermou, when we were there on September 11th there had been taken 47 children to Zinder for the Nutrition center; they said when it reached 60 there would be a center there. The doctor said there were 5000 people in Zermou, I think he put an extra 0, however this is his number. I was trying to learn the percentage of children with Mal-Nutrition.

Islamic dressed men giving me the sign of respect outside the village of Zermou as we left and drove the motorcycles in the dark 40 kilometers to Zinder.

Babanguida or Babaye has a leather Tanning business in Zinder, I see this as a great industry for Niger, as they have many cattle, and this is a goat.

On the bus from Zinder to Agadez, the mother gave this special fruit drink to the young girl.

We had to get out and walk when there were too very overloaded trucks stuck in the soft sand in the road between Zinder and Agadez, Niger.

I think some of the richer girls put henna on their hand or draw, also like India.

I love this cheese, a Tuareg or Nomad like cheese or Fromage; it is hard, you can store it, cost about 50 cents U.S. per piece and probably has a good amount of protein.

In Agadez they sell these bottle carriers or wrapped plastic bottles, I am not sure where they want to keep them cool or they want the extra handles.

This is I believe a goatskin that is used by the Nomadic people or the Tuareg people to carry water with the Camel in a Caravan.

The woman giving me respect, she is weaving a part for the top of the tent.

The plant thorns around the perimeter of the domed huts to protect them from bandits.

Well, when typical or Nomad clothes cannot be found, there are some pretty Niger girls in more modern dress.

This is a Sahara Desert Nomadic Dome hut, there can roll back the side to allow air to flow through, they are semi-permanent, however can be torn down and reconstructed quickly.

Photos in Agadez Niger

Photos of Power and Respect of Niger

Ooops no photos.

Two things the French should never do, sing or touch a computer. The too clever have created a mess of the Agadez Internet. I have 26 photos here. However...

I go to Niamey, I will publish then.

A Think Tank is Needed

A Think Tank is Needed
1:33 PM Tuesday September 13, 2005

I just took a tour for 5000 Niger Francs of the Tuareg Community or Homes here in Agadez, Niger. The construction of the domed house is similar to the ones in Mongolia, and sort of typically Nomadic.

When I was walking around looking at the dome semi-permanent type tents or huts I saw some mosquito nets, however only in about one in 20 of the beds I saw, that it not to say there is not a higher or lower percentage.

However the common thread or idea here is that a child under five is weak, then fall to something like Malaria, a Virus, or some type of disease or infection and although the Mal-Nutrition, Mal-Nourishment did not kill the child they died by a secondary and not necessary way of death like Malaria.

A Mosquito net cost about 2-5 dollars according to the country, I do not know how much one cost here, however I hope to go now and find out as just a test, the prices here are inflated due to a tourist inflation.

However it seems that a Think Tank type atmosphere could be produced whereby a problem could be posed, this would be easy on


How to convince people to use mosquito nets in Niger?

I suppose there could be an offer of cash for the best solutions that work and can be implemented.

I think there is a problem also in the types of beds the Nomadic type people use, it is a different and the bottom of the bed is not real good for this, I am not sure what design would be best.

Mother and Father Thanks the World

Mother and Father Thanks the World
Sunday - September 9, 2005

My Mother and Father wrote to me asking to say thanks to the world for them and I wish to thank the world also for their support in the aftermath of the Hurricane Katrina.

Mother and Father wrote:







Thanks for being great parents.

It is difficult to explain the world I was born into and the place where I live on the plane earth, I am a lucky person who has had all the benefit the earth can offer, not because of merit, but because I was born lucky, into a world of plenty, where life is easy, and the world is kind.

Not a day goes by where I do not see that I came from a paradise in the middle of the USA, where people stop and say hello, try to help their neighbor, however most of all they say thank you, please and excuse me, they do believe that they should be grateful for the bounty they have received. Not all, however for sure my family says thanks everyday for the good fortune we have received.

I personally thank the good Gods for me being born a -Country Boy.-

Translated for the world readers, I am a boy that grew up out in the farmlands of Indiana, USA not in the city, I have the morals, values, ethics of a person that does not see the city values as the best, and sees the moving away from good old country folks values as not progress, sophistication is not a benefit it is sometime a cultural hindrance.

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