Saturday, December 01, 2007

A man for everything...

We have a lot of human traffic at home. We come home after long hours at work, only to find the grocery man or the egg man or the meat man or the leather man waiting for us. There truly is a man in Niger for everything, and this weekend, Nettus and I discovered that there is even such a thing as a professional tree man, one who cuts down trees.

So the thing was that I asked Ali if he knew someone who could climb into this old neem (which had died) and cut it down piece by piece from the top right down to the bottom, which he did. However, there's a funny twist to things in Niger, and that it although people have all the time in the world and even more so than what is possible, the "little men" are often the most impatient people in the world. The first tree man to come refused to climb up in the tree and cut it down. Instead, he wanted to ax it down at the bottom; a job I could have done myself but did not want to, since the tree had about 80% chance of landing on something very precious: whether it be the roof of the house (!), the air conditioner or the car port (which will be turned into a shelter for the horses later). Ali, not wanting to disappoint me, insited that the man "knew his business" but seeing he did not even have the money to buy a rope, I did not want to take any chances. Hey, I can spare a dead tree in the garden but I won't be able to afford a new roof! So the first tree men went on his way, and the next weekend, Ali brought another tree man who had been well informed of this white woman's criterias, and who was more than willing to climb up the tree in order to receive the valuable wood as payment for the job.

Haha, it started out so well, with Ibrahim the 2nd tree man hopping about at seven meter's high chopping off piece by piece at an incredible speed. I was so impressed that I relaxed and alas! went inside to carry on with my own business. During this time, 2nd tree man must have lost his patient, because when I came out 30 minutes later, he was chopping away at the bottom of the tree, which was dangerously leaning in a very, very wrong direction.

Ishtar got upset. Ishtar stopped the man from continuing and wanted to know WHY he had adhered from the original plan? There was no explanation, unless one counts the very valuble words "It's ok, trust me, I know what I am doing."
"Oh you know what you are doing?" Ishtar started laughing although why she did, I have no idea, for I remember that she was not the least amused.
"So can you promise me then - give me an alkawali- that if the tree did break anything - which he "promised" me it would not, that he would pay for it. Seeing he was so sure that the tree wouldn't break anything, then surely he could be responsible for the damage?

But he would not. So evidently, it was not "all about trusting him" but stopping a typical "I am an experienced somebody - I will not do things your way and if you try to stop me you will insult me - I prefer to do something more convenient than your complicated (stupid) way and should anything break, you are rich and I am poor and it shouldn't be a problem for you to fix it. After all, this is Niger, and here all things break [I wonder why...?]".

Ishtar had to get upset. She had to pretend to be dramatically frustrated and finally she even bought the act herself, because the tree was very close to ruining the house. Eventually however, Nettus and Ishtar got their heads together and together with Ali and a lot of Ishtar's rope, they got the tree down safely.

After this very frustrating experience (and I must admit that I haven't even told you half of it as it would only refrustrate me to go through the whole ordeal again) I have learned that the more things Nettus and I learn to do by ourself, the better the quality and the lower the stress factor. Seriously!

Apart from that, I am happy to inform that we have no more dead trees in need of the activities of a professional tree man. Hurray!!!


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