Damn Good Biking

Damn Good Biking
Mammath Mountain

Sunday, May 20, 2007

My first week at IST...

Salaam Aleikum!

Greetings I hope you all are in health, rest assured I am, and once again eating well. Last week I packed my things and after a long 12 hour ride on a crowded bus and a miserable road resembling the pock marked lunar landscape I eventually arrived at my intended destination in Niamey for my In- Service Training (IST).
In-service training is an opportunity for we little volunteers to return to our original training site in Hamdallaye, (30Km SE of Niamey) and an opportunity for three weeks to share memories and experiences from our first two months at post. Also we spend an incredible amount of our time devoted to developing our language skills and improve our knowledge of Sahelian agriculture.
Last week we visited a terrific place named ICRISAT. It is a big acronym and the full name escapes me, but feel free to look them up on the internet. ICRISAT is the leading West African seed bank and scientific location for testing new farming practices and developing improved crop varieties of millet, groundnuts, beans, cowpeas, and many other vegetables resistant to both pest and drought. There is a lot of information disseminated from this place but what caught my attention most for the purpose of this blog imput was their efforts towards developing eco-farming.
Eco-Farming is a term used to describe using a plot of land to its maximum potential incorporating both intercropping and agro-forestry in concert to reduce or eliminate the use of fertilizers and additional irrigation. A critical aspect of eco-farming is to reduce land erosion by making a snake like terraces or demi-loons (terrace like half moons) along the contour of the land. Within these terraces trees useful for nitrogen fixing, mulch, fruit, and other useful improvements are placed in these half moon circles.
Using both poly-agriculture and agro-forestry the economic impacts improve exponentially the value of the farmer’s land value profits and efforts. For example one hectare of land generates averages between 60-70$ USD when used only for millet, groundnuts, or cowpeas. But with eco-farming, each hectare has the potential to generate nearly 600-700$ USD (U.S. Dollar) Sounds like a good deal? Ecological improvements! Economical improvements! and Social improvements!
The social impacts of this type of agriculture is that it provides the farmer with labor for nearly 10 months out of the year instead of the typical 5-6 months usually attributed to a typical growing season. The impacts of this aspect are incredible because when the farmer has income generation throughout the year there is no need for the farmer to “exode”. Which means work as a migrant laborer in neighboring countries depriving their families and nation of its most critical workforce and most productive of individuals.
Why would farmers not want to do this? All the initial investment demands is roughly about 300$ USD for start up cost. Unfortunately that is a lot of money here and to some it is an incredible gamble to invest an incredible chunk of their average income to invest on some “anasara magic” But the most unfortunate reason and real scourge of Niger’s inability to develop independently is the lack of simple knowledge along of agricultural practices and techniques. Its difficult to change someones mind, more difficult to get some one to change their life and extremely difficult to tell a farmer who is using the same terrible methods perfected for millet production decades if not centuries ago. So unfortuanetly there are a lot of things in this country that can kill in this case not only the lack of rain kills people but so does the lack of awareness. I believe that to be the worst of two evils.
So why is this blog entry entirely focused on ICRISAT and Eco-Farming? Well because for one, my trip to ICRISAT really inspired me, and secondly I decided that eco-farming will be the main focal point of my volunteer service. Currently the 3-5 NGO’s I am currently working with seem to be doing these efforts in their own way, but none seemed to have concentrated their practices towards this type of eco-farming. So my initial efforts will be to develop test programs for these NGO’s then integrate these practices into communities for independent farmers to try out. Two years seems like a long time to be here but I will be amazed if I do nothing more than set up the initial groundwork for the other volunteers behind me to continue. So I have A LOT of work to do before next rainy season and it will be nothing less than a miracle if my labors are successful. Never the less my ambition is nothing less than to completely alter the method of agriculture used here and a in a way change the fabric of the typical Nigerien livelihood. My goodness I am so excited, my tail is wagging!!
Lastly I would just like to thank you all for your comments, thoughts, care packages, prayers, and love. I miss you all incredibly and hardly a day goes by when I think “Josh why torture yourself here?” “There are all the creature comforts of home just waiting for you.” “A/C, friends, family, Charlie (my dog), my worldly possessions, the beautiful American landscapes consisting of rivers, forest, mountains, not to get into detail about the array of other cultural things beckoning for me to return” But…..
Then I think of what it is I am doing here and how it feels to come to an understanding with myself as my potential develops and my individualism and independence become more and more unique. Then I think of all the positive change I am making or have made in Niger and throughout the world and my zest for life increases more and more to staggering levels then….I stop thinking silence, and the realization comes that I am finally where I have always dreamed of being since childhood. Africa. Man what a life!

Your friend, son, nephew, grandson and all the many other things inbetween.
In peace,


Tuesday, May 15, 2007


Okay folk i am going to be Back in Hamdallaye for the next three weeks where I can pass those lovely remaining days of Hot-Hot season before the rains come. Two weeks ago in my village my watch, "thanks strieff family" registered the temp at 132F Freak'n hot. I think my weight is down to 175lbs, my beard is about a full fingers length and my mustache is handlebaring quite lovely.
It feels wonderful to be here in Niamey enjoy some great food, better beer, and share stories with my freinds.
Since I will be in Hamdallaye for the next few weeks feel free to call anytime.


Where there is smoke...

Where there’s smoke……

Riddle me this…
What takes months to look at, days to make, and years to make ones own?

Give up….Its my house!!!! A few short hours ago this panting pilgrim was notified that after the flame was set under the arse’s of my villagers they mustered some k’okari (effort) and finally finished my home. All it took was a 23 year old dependently wealthy, stick figure of a blonde berating a dignified 65 year old village chief.

What’s that your asking….now what?…well the first three months my job is not to do anything…that’s right. NO projects, NO assignments, No real expectations other than spending time with the locals and learning what my village is all about.

Is there another job in the world that spends thousands and thousands of dollars on training an employee then afterwards says….do nothing?

If there is let me know because, the climate of this one sucks….

Lockaci Zahi!! Its time for heat!!!!

Heat season began this week. What does that mean? Sweating, Profuse Sweating. When I sleep I sweat, when I think I sweat, typing right now guess what….sweating. Taking a cold shower…well not sweating, but it starts again as soon as I step out of the shower…and after tonight no more showers. I’m homewards bound for the bush.
In fact its so dry and the atmosphere is so desperate for moisture that as soon as I walk out of the shower I am dry…no need for towels. Airlines provide complimentary peanuts, Niger provides complimentary invisible towels.

The worst part of hot season so far is that it hasn’t even gotten hot yet!! Yikes!!!!

If your bored or sitting by your lonesome and asking yourself “I wonder what Josh is doing now” from lets say today (3-26-07) to I don’t know maybe October, take a guess? Sweating and hydrating is my full time job.
If your missing me and need a little cheer have a good chuckle at my expense try to imagine what new place I discovered that day that sweat can come out of.
Now I don’t want to sound like a beggar but if someone wants to send me some packets of “Emergen-C” hydration packets. Muchas Gracias.

I hate the heat, my body hates it, but I love being here, so I guess no more bitching.
I forgot to mention, even my mandolin gets hot to the touch when I play here. Technically as Rob Nold would say “I’m a hot picker”

Compounding Heat Related Issues.
As you can hopefully see from my picture posted, I have a huge beard! Its like wearing a cat on my face. At least that’s my excuse when someone ask me why breath is so bad in the morning….Did you see that cat sleep on my face! Hahahaaha!! My eggs are scrambled.

My intention is to let it the facial chia pet grow as long as I can suffer it. Currently my mustache is starting to curl; the goal is to look like a fur trading bushman by the time I leave for in service training in a couple months. Cathy thinks its sexy, many agree nuff said.

Today I did have a interesting cross-cultural exchange when I was at the kasua (market) and buying my daily ration of cooked pasta and tofu. The butcher selling meat off his bicycle next to the tofu woman picked up his big knife and said “I can shave that beard for you, its hot!” My reply “No thanks, I keep a beard because I’m ugly without it” Everyone laughed, I laughed then I said to myself, holy Shiite Muslim! Did I say that in Hausa. There is not a more satisfying thing than saying something in another language without thinking. Okay there are lots of more satisfying things but I’m in Niger, I’ll take what I can get.

Well its time to start packing up and getting ready for dinner…Tonight it’s a special feast.

Tonight we are having hamburgers and cold beer!! Yummy!

To, Sai Anjima (okay Until later)


Wayfaring Peacefully.

Village life....

Village life.

Sitting in front of the computer waiting for inspiration to come and not knowing what to write about I just remembered no one on this planet outside of Niger has hardly heard from me or know what I have done or seen. Isn’t that enough?

Dan Saga, the region, people, etc…. Dan Saga is a quaint little village located over 100km North by North East from Maradi which is the 2nd largest city in Niger. Of those who have visited all stress how wonderful the place is and looking forward to seeing the range of work I will do there. The tuwo (one of three everyday dishes eaten in Niger) is tasty, the people are reasonably educated, progressive, and have lots of k’ok’ari (effort). My village was recently used as a shining example of a village in an internationally published news article detailing efforts in Niger’s to embolden its farmers role in thwarting desert encroachment and improving nutrition while adding economic stability during hard times by planting an array of useful trees. Honestly I’m glad to see something actually recognized in America about Niger other than the incredibly erroneous claims by our commander in clown when he lied about Saddam attempting to obtain Uranium from Niger.

According to lonely planet Maradi is populated by 60,000 but more likely 150,000-200,000 souls and is the center of the agricultural trading due to its close proximity to Nigeria, easily Niger’s big brother. Niger and Nigeria do share a few things in common such as some common culture (Hausa) but I compare their relationship similar to Mexico’s integration into the American economy due to less stringent regulations and abundant cheap physical labor. In Shallah (If god will’s it) A very common phrase here then hopefully the USA and Mexico will continue to integrate and eventually Mexican and Hispanic culture will be just as normally accepted and integrated into Americana. You know me; less white in the picture means more room for color.
Did I digress?
Okay traveling up a very nice but very untypical two lane highway in Niger between Maradi and Zinder there is a medium size town of lets say about 10,000 named Aguie. Aguie has is a pretty decent market town and is a sub-regional HQ for many development agencies. In my case my NGO Non Government Organization the “Aguie Project is an international agricultural and economic development project funded by the EU. Look it up. Maybe you’ll have luck. I’ve been at post for 2 months and I just learned about what it does two weeks ago. Needless to say transportation in this country is difficult at best, communication is a headache, and being told exactly what my role here took quite a long time but whose pointing fingers. Peace Corps is a great organization and is not without its plague of bureaucratic nonsense, so its natural for one to fall between the cracks from time to time.

After learning more about Dan Saga from my NGO counterparts last week when I visited the INRAN compound ( its a huge program working on agro-forestry, soil nutrition, , and agricultural improvements)I have come to learn that Dan Saga is at the center of a concerted effort to maximize development potential in Niger. There are many international agencies currently there and a few more vying for a spot to work. In a sense a model community attesting to the many efforts being made to improve life in Niger.
Currently there are four ambitious but reasonable goals.
1. Improve soil quality
2. Increase crop yields
3. Utilize agro forestry for conservation agriculture and additional income
4. Maximize market potential
These are not complicated or unattainable matters and accomplishing these goals sounds easy enough to achieve. However what becomes difficult is implementing change and organizing the villages willingly from the outside. My sources tell me that’s why they are so excited for me to be a part of Dan Saga because the villagers have been overwhelming supportive of development agencies but they grow weary from hearing “you need to do this and do that” Who wouldn’t? After a while even the most compromising of villages patience will wear thin and their efforts wean and eventually most of their efforts will fall on the deaf ears or the very few with ambition and vision to understand the long term goals.
Okay this is how my roll in development works here and is more influential than the build it and go type of development work. I am given no money, little resources and pointed in a direction and told “Go!” But the greatest part is that I am part of the village. In theory I will be respected for taking the time to live with them, listen to them and share their lives, to me this is truly the most beautiful aspect of my role.
Today’s key buzz word for you to remember is PARTICIPATORY DEVELOPMENT. What is PD? PD is working to develop an area while being a part of the community instead of apart from it. It is working for progress and organizing the locals from their perspective. This is where my work with the Peace Corps is unique and ultimately the most personally rewarding, but most demanding of all development models.
In Niger there are many other types of “Peace Corps” type development agencies modeled after JFK and Sergeant Shrivers creation of the PC. It was a stroke of genius to find a way that countries can use their most ambitious and idealistic to its favor and even more ingenious to make them a part of the very communities.
Modeled after the PC many other States have developed their own “PC like” agencies. The Japanese are here, the French, Canadian, and a handful of other countries have their own PC type of agencies but what some of them lack is their effort towards total integration, while Participatory Development is only partially realized.
More often than not and is often the case occurs while having a conversation with my counterparts or any person about the PC is that it seldom turns bitter. However when other agencies are mentioned they are often remembered many do accomplish great things but the individuals themselves are remembered for their arrogance and unwillingness to conform to local standards by choosing not to live with the people. Donating more money than time says a lot about an agency and the Nigeriens miss very little in details. I don’t look down at non-participatory development agencies we all have our role to play in this game, some are just different and this is what I see from the ground looking up.
I think the word development and its work is cheapened and marginalized by those who only know how to throw money at a problem. Development is considered at its best when those working for it start by learning about issues from its roots and implementing change through relationships. Cleansing your conscience and donating money is kind and generous but the real generosity is to donate your time and life. That is the greatest gift of humanity, human inner-connectivity at its finest. In this case it is the act of a small town farm boy bringing only his mandolin, a few worldly possessions and a heart full of love from Missouri to a village in a forgotten corner of the world. The idea here is that buildings will ultimately crumble but words and stories shared of real consequence last forever.

Lastly my efforts over the next few months will consist of improving my Hausa, learning more about Dan Saga, Niger, while integrating further into local culture and customs while developing my knowledge of Sahelian agriculture. Because it is a whole’nother ball game here when it comes to agriculture. But I will write more about this later.
This is about all I can write at the moment I have many things to prepare before going to my IST “In Service Training” which starts tomorrow and will last for 3 weeks so feel free to call, or write I always enjoy mail, packages, or hearing a kind voice from home.
Sai Anjima,
“until later”


Eureka!!!! A nigerien discovery of self awareness

Gashaiku (Greetings you all)

Sorry it has been a loooooooong time since my last update, hopefully if you know my moms and sister they have kept you abreast on the latest in my world. So the rumors are indeed true, I have survived the first two months at post! “nearly unscathed”
As advertised my initial two months at post have passed and on Saturday I will be returning to Niamey, more specifically Hamdallaye, for an additional three weeks of technical and language training. Despite my attempts at praying and searching for some mystical wizardry to make the excruciating blistering times of the day pass faster I have never said to myself “I do not want to be here anymore.” In fact I welcomed the hot season about as much as I would a bastard family member, (he’s coming over whether you like it or not so love him, and enjoy life at his expense). So hot season is another challenge and experience to live through, and though I don’t quite understand yet what has changed about me, something under the surface seems different and I’m eagerly looking forward to analyzing that with my friends soon.
On Sunday I will be meeting with my friends from training and that’s when the real lessons of these first two months will reveal themselves after we share a few drinks and start comparing our experiences and coming to gripes with a “What the Hell just happened to us” sort of experience.
Concerning appearances, after only a short period spanning two months at post there are some obvious physical changes such as my extraordinary loss in weight, nice muscular toning due to a regimented morning routine of yoga. Not to mention a devastatingly handsome new look modeling a shaved head and really-really retro fashion tribute paying homage to the French fur traders of yesteryear. Its absolute crazy having a unkempt four month old beard here during hot season but I love my multiple inched burliness and twisted mustache, its also functional purpose it keeps the sun off my face, sure don’t want premature wrinkling! and in a country where many are malnourished or dehydrated it saves most of what I eat or drink for later. That’s conservation! I would be liar if I said I did not say to myself damn josh your getting better looking with every year and it is tedious refraining myself from kissing the mirror damn near every morning. So why resist?
Okay moving on to the other changes. As mentioned I feel there have been more important realizations and changes within myself many of which at this moment eludes me. However being one never short for a thought or words I will comment on one particular life altering realization and most obvious of internal changes that have occurred here. And that would probably be my sense of self. It starts like this…..
One particular evening while taking my nightly bucket bath and cleansing my body from the woes of a miserably hot day and rinsing away the grainy combination of sweat and sand. I sat silent in ponderous thought while enjoying another god given wonderful evening spent alone underneath the vibrant African starry night. Nude, at peace, comfortable with my surroundings while taking in the atmosphere of listing to life in Dan Saga women pounded millet, children played, the wind rustled above the trees, and the animals near my fence finished their evening meals. I wondered in and out of the conscious world and came to a realization. And I spoke the worlds unknowledgeable of their meaning when I said….

“I am here the time is now!”

Now I know this is kind of a broad statement and definitely is not a realization even remotely profound as Archimedes’s bathing experience when he discovered how to measure volume and then ran through the town naked crazily shrieking Eureka! Eureka!
No my realization came subtly and I reacted giddily but with reservation, mainly because here Muslim culture doesn’t appreciate the fine art form of streaking or more descriptively white naked men streaking their prayer service. They are tranquil farmers, peaceful folk, but it is a pitchfork and string him up kind of offence here.

I am here, the time is now. Life for me is what it is, why worry!
Let me explain.
Burdened with life at times and often lost at the crossroads of time and thought we are left standing with our head up our !@# and aimlessly staggering about. Often bewildered and incapable of acting rationally or thinking critically, one is suspended between a vacuum of worthless time thinking about what we have done, and what we are going to do next. The real tragedy of this tale of woe is that as a mass we often are left believing in our lives that we have the ability to change our past (technically we can) but more importantly really control the course of our future. So the consequence being -we lose the obvious “Here and Now” and the path we tread is hapless and aloof from others. So why bother? Why waste our time and lose the positive momentum that comes from appreciating where we are and what we are doing. Minutes, days, months, years, and entire lives have been wasted at such wasteful pondering.
In my case with nothing to do but spend my time doing what I please in the village I heard a perpetuating buzzing in my mind saying “What have you done in life? What are you going to do after Niger?” At first it was a pestering buzz then it evolved into a head splitting clatter tearing my mind in different directions but never in the place where I was. Do I live in the past, do I seek a future I have no control over…... NO!!! NO!!! ENOUGH!!!!!

That day prior to that said bucket bath something within myself snapped and I spoke out loud to myself. “I am here, the time is now!”

Why not appreciate where we are and what we are doing? Even a place we don’t like being is a place to learn something about ones-self and the world. Why waste the opportunity to think of something potentially more important or profound or appreciate something minute but no doubt remains a miracle of nature. Life everyday taken for granted. For instance I would kill to watch a dragonfly on a river right now, but I’m content listening to some great Arabic music (thanks shana) and feeling the gentle breeze break the heat while collecting my thoughts for you all.

I know without me back in the US for some the world is not as great as it could beJ and many said don’t go! The world is too dangerous, what if you don’t like it? Everyone has AIDS there!!! White people please!!!! The globe has continued to revolve just fine, there is nothing I can do to stop the plaguing issue of continental drift, or the changing winds so why bother? The human world churns, the environment sustains (disputable) and I am placed in a situation where the only thing I have is myself and the rest of the world at my feet. I am happy
“I am here the time is now!”

Despite 28 years of attempting to chuck my alarm clock out the window only to have it fall on my head, I ritualistically arise about 0600 in my village and become a creature of habit (morning regiment of tea, yoga, and reading), then the rest of the day I become a international man of mystery (Who is this white guy, and what is he saying to us in broken Hausa?) and a peacefully wayfaring missionary of hope (as in I hope I make it though this hot season).

In my two months I have thought extensively about my life and the role I have in this beautiful world. Not to mention contributing some really profound thoughts on life and some really impressive meditative and poetic mandolin arrangements to people who do not understand what I am saying. Despite the negative outlook that I will might not ever sell a million albums or books my efforts undoubtedly will swoon the hearts of many along my way in life. Wasting more time loving wastefully I have taken to reading a lot of books, fallen off evil horses, rode camels, been nearly attacked by a rather rude bull because of my attempt to mount him. All the same. I love them. Its been a real learning experience relearning how to live while attempting to brave the typical elements and situations of Niger such as; sandstorms, children, bush taxis, heat, dangerous animals, and managing my daily livelihood in one of the harshest climates in the world. I am here the Time is now. Taking care of my own, daily I pull and carry my own water, and have eaten a healthy combination and mounds of mangoes, goat, feces, and tuwo sometimes all together.
Despite losing countless gallons of fluids and pounds of mass due to profuse sweating, amoebic and parasitic intestinal invasions, and a terrible bout with a simultaneous yeast and bacterial infection my body remains in a sense of harmony, and my spirits vividly live on an emotional rollercoaster. Regardless I remain able to go to bed nightly with satisfaction knowing that I’m walking the path less taken and doing exactly what I am supposed to be doing at that time and place.
Do I have to say it again….okay I will
I am here the time is now!

In closing I am happy here. It is difficult and I consider this a job perfect for those knowledgeable of bipolar disorder or suffering from the illness themselves because one has to be aware here that all emotions are amplified. Any given day can be spent surfing the varying waves of emotions, some time spent celebrating extremely blissful highs and lows that destabilize ones reasons for existence here.
But all the same at the end of the day I have never regretted coming here and I miss my crazy life back home but sure do not want to return there.

“I am here the time is now!”

On a lighter note I do talk to myself now randomly at times as you can gather and one day when I needed to treat myself I went to a guard where I keep the goodies and looked in an said “I feel like a sucker” No truer sentiment has ever been spoken from these lips. Couldn’t help but laugh at myself.

Thousands of miles away but hopefully still close in all your hearts,

Yours truly,


A new phrase in my life (original posting)

A new phrase in my life.
Upon recollection the exact date is uncertain, however the day was the eve of moving back on top of the training site. In the next few days we were going to prepare for swear-in. In a few more days I would no longer be a measly trainee, after months of hard work the payoff would be to become a full fledged official volunteer. Yippee Skippy!!
So on this particular evening the docket was full of plans to enjoy some snacks that the Peace Corps were going to provide, eat some food, and then present my family with gifts in appreciation for their generosity and then save the best for last.
Dance Party!!
Hidden like a stowaway and snuggled safely away deep within the security of my duffle bag coming to Niger my djembe (African drum) had big plans to dymystify the myth that white men have no rhythm, it was my tool to showcase the extent of the white mans ability in Africa.
This invaluable resource was unleashed onto the Nigerien masses once before and it was a devastating success. Each experience with this drum has been a cultural highlight. It usual starts with me playing my groove style western rhythm then everyone says “oh that was nice give the drum to Chibu.” (SHeye-boo) (My neighbor) On each occasion of my drumming he comes a running and dazzles us with his mystical rhythms.
One would like to assume that many of his rhythms are based on his imaginative interpretations of the cosmos, or stories about life in the bush. My particular favorite is his beat based on his interpretation of my host father picking up a cobra in the bush. This is a major feat in Niger. Here if one is bitten by one of the MANY poisonous snakes, lets just say, its not a dance beat that write for you.
In the Sahel breaking a bone can be a life long affliction, which can destabilize you and your family’s livelihood. Manhandling a very dangerous cobra in a frenzy of youthful foolishness can be a moment of triumph or of great remorse. Luckily, this triumphant rhythm will always beat close to my heart.
So tonight my real gift was to bring down from the hill two traditional drums from our cultural center and bring along my very own ol’ thumper from storage. Tonight Chibu and his youthful apprentices would provide us all with a memorable night filled with incredible beats, and fond memories of children rhythmically following their cues in trance like movements.
As nightfall descended, the crescent moon and star, iconic of Islamic culture illuminated our party, while the gas lamps placed on the perimeters of our gathering provided a glowing landscape of something otherworldly. Tonight through the music, the lunar luminescence, and the petrol fed radiance, we (the nigeriens, and four other peace corps friends), were all removed from our concession and lost in a magical realm. Our foot stomping dust storm of a party displaced a significant amount of earth which acted as an enchanting atmospheric effect which gave us the feeling of dancing in the haze of clouds while still firmly planted on the ground. Captivated we were.
Winded from the dancing we “anasaras” regrouped to the side of the dance circle and stood captivated, silent, and in awe of this magnificent spectacle I broke the silence with the most prophetic words yet uttered by a Peace Corps volunteer.
“Yep….We’re in the Peace Corps”
This simple phrase has come to speak volumes of all of our experiences. For instance.

While sitting in a bush taxi waiting an hour and a half under the sahelien sun for twenty people to pile into a van the size of a dodge caravan one displaces his angst by playing his mandolin and harmonicas for the people until departure time. One normally would be agitated by this inconvenience, all I can think to say is “Yep….I’m in the Peace Corps”

Standing on the side of the road and watching a truck pass that has successfully lashed twenty goats tethered to the roof rack, while another twenty are restrained in the bed, while five men are struggling for space in the same bed with the goats, and another four are holding onto dear life while standing on the bumper hitching a ride….all one can say is
“Yep….I’m in the Peace Corps”

Hovering over a hole in the ground for three solid days and the only sound produced more audible than the neighboring kids, animals, and crackling shortwave radios is the symphony of sound melodiously exiting from my bottom half…sick, dehydrated, wanting to be anywhere else in the world but one still has to ring out in between discharges
“Yep….I’m in the Peace Corps”

Sitting on a wooden bench under the shade lost somewhere between my point of origin and destination in some random road village one needs to take the personal time to recover the feeling in ones ass and reduce the nausea from the bone jarring hellish trek
Unfortunately the only option is to eat street food. In Niger no task is simple and even eating can be epic battle between good and evil. While eating street food one has to battle for re-nourishment with the two other things that desperately want that food far more.
One being the agitated hoard of fly’s displaced from their breeding grounds when my food was served. The other being the dozens of on looking starving children with their all too familiar plastic bowls strapped to their neck. With each bite of contaminated food one has to swallow much more, such as his pride, his remorse, and sense of hygienic food preparation and say once again.
“Yep….I’m in the Peace Corps”

So here I sit and ponder upon my memories and reflect gleefully in knowing that this is but a glimpse into my life for the last three months here. I have really achieved nothing other than losing a combination of weight, body fluids, and skin off the ends of my fingers from mandolin playing.
Next week hopefully I have a home…that’s life in Niger, Once upon a time a had a snowballs chance of the sahel of even saying I wanted to be in Niger now all I can say is……
“Yep….I’m in the Peace Corps.

Wayfaring Peacefully.