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Oct
15

Navigating Niger: My Last Days in West Africa


After finishing up with my job at USAID and saying farewell to my friends in Benin, I boarded a bus that would eventually get me to Niger (around 500 miles north of my former home city of Cotonou.) First, I stopped half way up the stretch of Benin to visit a few Peace Corps friends. The biggest challenge in this is that I was lugging with my all my¬† baggage, which included two large suitcases that we well over the airport weight limit…Oops! And of course, when I stopped to meet my friends, getting my baggage from the bus to the hotel was, well let’s just say interesting…

But what matters is that my baggage got there in one piece and that, it did. The next day we ventured out to find the right bus to take me up the rest of the country and through the border of Niger. The first bus I bought my ticket for was full, but the bus manager assured me that another bus would come soon. As it arrived and I boarded the steps, I realized that the only seat available to this last minute passanger was on top of a stack of blankets in the very front of the bus. So this was my view for the next 12.5 hours…

While crossing the border I took what maybe my favorite shot thus far:

Finally I arrived in Niger and was very happy to meet my friend Caroline, who I knew from her days in Cotonou. Caroline works for Catholic Relief Services, and just moved to Niger this past May. She has been the best hostess ever and I have had an absolute blast experiencing all that Niger has to offer. Here we are at dinner of the riverbank my first day in country:

At the restaurant we came across this giant bug, I ‘m sure my biologist dad would have had a field day with it!

As promised, Caroline took me to see the wild animals of Niger (other than the one pictured above), which was something I have very much looked forward to since all I have seen in Benin are goats, chickens, and cats. Friday afternoon, we decided to brave the 105 degree heat and ride some camels out into the desert. I should preface this by saying this was the first time Ihave ever seen a camel up close, much less climbed on top of one. So let’s just say I was less than comfortable as my sitting camel rised up from the ground as I got onto it..

And off into the desert we went..

 

The next day we ventured out to see West Africa’s last wild herd of giraffes.. We wanted to start out early to avoid the mid-day heat. But little did we know things wouldn’t go quite our way. Right at outskirts of town, the car broke down… we pulled off the road to the only shade we could find, which happen to be right next to a giant dead sheep… The four of us tried our best to keep it together while we waited for the mechanic, but the smell was incredibly hard to stomach…

Eventually the mechanics came and replaced a broken belt of some kind in engine, I guess? (Yea, you can tell I know nothing about the inside working of cars..)

But after a 2.5 hour delay, we finally got to the giraffe reserve. First we found their tracks…

And then we found them! I was amazed at how majestic and graceful they were…

And at how close we got..

Here are some of my other favorite pictures:

So ends my African adventure.. I leave tomorrow night for New York, DC, then eventually the Bay Area in CA. ¬†Thanks to everyone for reading and following me on this long and exciting journey. I will try to write one more post once I am home and have more time to reflect on all the ways in which Africa has changed me, which I feel like is an endless list. Words can’t express the gratitude I feel for all that I have absorbed, overcomes, and have been humbled by this past year. Much love!

Syambra

3 comments

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  1. Dana Dakin says:

    Dear Syambra — well done. So much fun to travel with you. Stay in touch. My cell is 603 748 0053 if you ever want to talk. Dana

  2. Lisa says:

    I have enjoyed every word and picture! Reading this site over and over to make sure I missed nothing!

    You are awesome!

  3. Dan says:

    Your Awesomeness,

    Yikes that bug looks deadly. Some kind of beetle no doubt. Would have scared the xzxyx out of me. Looking so forward to seeing you. Safe Travels.

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