Damn Good Biking

Damn Good Biking
Mammath Mountain

Monday, August 6, 2007

Update from the Frontline. 8-6-07

Greeting wayfaring readers,

Well time to catch you all up on all things Niger, or how Niger pertains to yours truly here anyways. First off thank you all so very much for the very wonderful packages from home, last month was a really tight month since this poor boy was flat broke and would have starved without your generosity. Don’t worry about me my pockets are lined with all sorts of colorful play money now and will be washed out like the roads from existence very soon. This brings me to my current forward fighting position.

Last week after two months of spending all my time in my field, it fills my heart will joy to announce that after planting the last of my trees “pomme de sahels” or (Sahelian Apple Trees) what was once a great field is now simply amazing. Don’t take my word for it ask my villagers...ah can’t reach them on your smoke signaling device from home...well then take it from me they are impressed, my boss came to visit me and he left very impressed, and after being in Niamey for the last couple of days and when the other folks heard about my field, they were impressed. But not until after informing them that two plots were filled with sweet corn and that the sweet corn should be ready by next month. Just in time for my next trip to Niamey for the next groups swear in and Peace Corps 45th anniversary in Niger, and that said sweet corn might just be shared freely.

Apparently the thing I learned about this whole farming experience is that you can take the boy away from the sweet corn, but when the family sends him sweet corn seeds everyone want to be friends with the boy with the sweet corn. Giving up my vain attempts to spout socialist propaganda or cull the spread of American imperialism and the vexing ills of corporate governance. I decided its best just to allow the best of America come to Niger and man that’s sweet corn. My villagers didn’t really know what the how wonderful the magical seeds really are, but man if the all didn’t want some to plant in their houses, and did. So what the hell I might never convince them or myself that our war in Iraq wasn’t a bad thing or that no really Bush is a good president. Yeah they don’t even come close to buying that. But they do love Clinton and Reagan But by hell or high Shelia flood water they will love the best of the American hot season (summer) and that is sweet corn. Or the annual Willie Nelson 4th o’ July bash.

Sorry, about 3 or 4 days with little to no sleep. Last night after going to bed I was accosted by mosquitoes so I might be a little scatter brained. About 0400 the pests woke me up after a tosser of a sleep and then they carried my away from my bed about 0400 this morning to the computer lab where I sit freezing in the air conditioned computer lab of the peace corps headquarters. Shivering and bloodshot, really suffering just to bring you all up to date on things here, so please bear with me.

As you have all surmised from previous post, travel in Niger is perilous, it sucks. My trip from Maradi to Niamey was pretty much uneventful besides the multiple people vomiting all around me and the soaking wet cloths due to the monsoon weather we had. Once it would be nice on the bus not to have to be exposed to or slimed by another’s bodily fluids on a bus ride in Niger but even I was fighting the urge due to the two hour detour through the bush (seriously) around the washed-out bridge on the National Highway. Due to heavy rains the roads are in terrible conditions more so than usual and that’s saying something. The day before yesterday a bus overturned and killed about ten people or so thank goodness none of us were on the bus, but seriously as much as we all ride the buses and bush taxi’s across country it is amazing that more serious accidents do occur. It’s a numbers game I guess and I am really nervous about traveling as it is all ready so this doesn’t help things.

Okay something a little more jovial to hear about what do you say.

Why am I in Niamey? Why not. I have been working extremely hard, my field is finished and just needs a little time alone so why not come to Niamey and spend my hard earned money. Not to mention really needed to escape from my new roommate (which I will get into next) No it’s really nice to leave me region and come to the capitol and eat at nice restaurants and enjoy some time with estranged friends on this side of the country. The super bonus is playing some music with the inclined here. There really is an enduring cruelty to keep me away from things I love most in this country. First I am a river rat. The only preference I had was to send me to a country with rivers to navigate or wilderness or mountains to climb. Niger. Go figure. Do not go in the water! Doesn’t even need to be posted, bad things float there, and it’s not a baby Ruth if you remember caddy shack. Next, as a budding mandolin player it was gods send to learn there were other musicians here and half of those prefer playing bluegrass, for the moment fortune favored me, YES!!! And then guess where they are....give up Niamey. Or close to anyway, and where am I? ...A grueling 14 hour bus ride away.

As for my roommate, yeah that is a good one. It is only a matter of time before the Peace Corps discovers this and really flips, probably for the best.

Okay, so the other day a camera crew comes to film a documentary in my village about gender development and when the film crew leaves they leave one behind, who I then learn was voted off the island and now will be the star of a reality series about what happens when a Nigerien PhD student moves in with a bewildered peace corps volunteer. Sometimes it feels like my life is suffering from the post traumatic kind of experience similar to waking up after a college keg party pass out and waking up the next seven months saying “Where the !#%# am I?

All my villagers said that day was “Nazifi are you happy you are having a visitor” Huh? “He’s staying for four months!”...after they move all his stuff in. “OH SHIT!!!” How does one say “ARE YOU #$^%$#@ KIDDING ME!!!!!) My house is smaller than a jail cell, and my yoga in the morning is usually in the buff or near so every morning, plus not that it bothers me to have strangers move into my house, if you know my family, which is future blog entry soon explaining this, then you would understand more clearly. So as fate would have it that first night the rains came and guess that was sleeping intimately close to this guy....I didn’t even know his name. Still stunned by this chain of events the next day my boss came, there was a free ride back to Maradi, so like a NRA member on a gun expo model I was on that truck. In twenty minutes after planting my apple trees, bathing, packing, and ready to get the heck away from my village all I said to him was here are the keys and don’t drink all the beer in the fridge. “Huh?” “Never mind man, see you in ten days”

Well today should be exciting I am crossing into unknown territory to explore the Goethe region and will be visiting friends, playing mando, and planting trees with my fiercely competitive friend one up me in my field. But guess what he ain’t got no sweet corn, so no one wants to play with him.

Peace Out, I’ll write more if my canoe makes it across the Niger River today. The bridge is washed out.

Yeah sorry about the messy blog entry.

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