Saturday, October 21, 2006

Back in Niger!

Finally, I’m back in Niger! It’s 36 degrees, slightly humid (dry heat is better!), my body is swollen and my head aches when I wake up in the mornings… No surprise though, because I know it normally takes about three days for my body to adjust.

The journey went smoothly. When I come to think about it, it must have been the smoothest journey ever. Nothing went wrong, no one was stressed, time went so quickly and we had a lot of fun… Getting through the checkups went smoothly (!); partly because there were so few passengers disembarking in Kano but also because we were traveling with my father. In Africa, connections and friendship is the key to success…

Exhausted from all the stress prior to leaving, I fell asleep seconds after my head hit the pillow. In a blue bedroom; the one I always stay in when we’re spending the night in Kano. The shower was Anette’s first shock but she quickly got over it (she had been thoroughly warned, but you still need to see it for your own eyes before you can imagine it). Surprisingly, you don’t need that much time actually to adjust to the crooked walls and all the other peculiarities of Nigeria… It’s rather fun, coming to a new – imperfect – world!

Breakfast was an interesting combination of uniquely boiled eggs (the yokes were hardboiled while the whites were liquid – I’ve never seen that before!), coffee/tee, toast with jam and a tonic soda, especially meant for those who weren’t taking any malaria medicine (I had run out of my small supply the evening before…). We then set out to do some errands in town, and Anette got to see West Africa’s Cairo: Kano.

The large city was as usually pulsating and shabby – the only difference being that for once, I took a (small) likening to it. I’d NEVER want to live in Kano, it’s the dirtiest and most disorganized town I know, but I’ve sort of got used to it and that makes me like it.

A day however was far sufficient for me and at five o’clock in the afternoon, I was happy to enter greener areas.

The good roads didn’t last long and after one bump that threw us all in the air, Anette commented: “It’s no wonder your cars wear out quickly in a country with these kinds of roads!” And that wasn’t the worse I’ve seen… Anyway, the journey from Kano to Zinder was long (by then, you feel so close to your target, you’ve simply run out of patience) but I was happily reminded how much better I have become after the concussion in January, when I got totally exhausted… In Zinder, Josef and Renate were waiting for us, and they had already cleaned part of the house and made the beds… Nice surprise! I don’t remember how long they stayed; I just remember trying to get a picture of the situation, what needed to be repaired and what would have to be done before you could actually start “living” in the house…

We slept until 9.30 (all three of us actually), had breakfast and then set about to work. Anette and I started with the kitchen, cleaning the cupboards (and everything in them) from dust! We kept doing it for most part of the day, and we still have a long way to go… But we’re getting forward. We did do other things though. First, we had lunch on the veranda in the company of the parrots and then Anette and I showered one of the dogs before taking a dip in the pool, which was just perfect… After two more hours of cleaning in the afternoon, we went for a walk. First we went to see Arwen, who was pleasantly big (not fat, but broad) and seemed to be in excellent form (though slightly irritated because Ali had gone to the racing track without her – she wouldn’t quit staring at the gate, expecting him back) and then over to Renate and Josef, where Tabita showed us her play telephone (and many other toys). After that, Anette and I spent some more time with the dogs and the pool and then… you know, time just flew.

I’ll be interesting to see what tomorrow will bring… For starters, it’s my father’s birthday (the first one he’ll be celebrating without my mother since before their engagement) and Josef, Renate and Tabita are coming over in the morning to wake him up in bed. Old family tradition… Don’t know if he’ll appreciate it (he keeps saying that he doesn’t want any attention), but I figure he could do with a pleasant surprise! And Anette and I bought a big box of Lindt chocolate in Amsterdam (amazing how much money you can spend on chocolate, only to come here and buy “real” things for the price!) which I think he will appreciate…

Ok, got to go to bed now; soon I’ve got less than eight hours before I need to go up again and in this heat (and with the remnants of my concussion still making themselves felt from time to time), I could do with some sleep…



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