You know me, where there is time, there is always a story.
The weekend of the May 10th I came to Maradi for a quick respite and also to partake in a counterpart "swar-ye" (hick french) where we would showcase our work and explain the Peace Corps mission to unsuspecting guests who only came for the free food and drink.
"why I went"
The next afternoon I fielded a call from me mum and caught up on a couple weeks worth of news, while towards the end of the conversation the hammock I was perched in about three feet above the ground, decided to play chutes and ladders with me as the unsuspecting fool.
When the rope holding my more intelligent end snapped, my arse was violently driven to the ground and an immediate pain seared through my body. My mom heard what I could only describe as a pathetic blended droning of whimpers, chuckles, and crying.
Don't laugh, it hurt, its a real injury, and I am can cry if I want to.
Check the Manly Man Manual, Vol.I pg 567 under the Chapter, "When its okay to cry and not look like a wimp"
Twenty minutes after the incident and after wrapping the conversation with mum, I found myself still entangled in the lazy-man snare, and unable to get up.
Even tried calling for help, yet none heard my stranded pleas for assistance.
Wouldn't it be my luck?
Here I am in Niger, constantly on the move, always involved in strenuous activities, even finding myself on occasion being head butted, bit, kicked, charged at, or thrown from animals exceeding well over a thousand pounds.
Yet no serious injury
Did you know the cows here are quite Darwinianly gifted with very- very sharp man-a-kabob horns.
It does me no service in means of credibility to have to explain how I was injured, but I'd rather come out of this experience being able to laugh instead of dwelling on something tragic.
Five days after being on involuntary bed rest after the accident, I broke down and finally called the doctor and reported the incident, (intentionally down playing the extent of the injury to keep from being called to Niamey). The result of which was the doctor prescribing two different sorts of pain medication to help me hobble back to my village for a quick in and out trip to put things in order prior to Niamey.
In Niamey I had two previous engagements both of which I was really looking forward too.
The main engagement was a festival we were putting on called Pangaea, which is a music and artistic cross cultural exchange put on by local artists and PCV's, while many natives and aliens from the development realm come enjoy and partake in the activities. My role was to give a couple classes on the mandolin and traditional American music, then follow up the classes with a jam session.
The next day after the music my other tasks was to return to Hamdallaye and speak with our new agriculture and natural resource management volunteers about some of my work and experiences. I have been looking forward to cornering a captive audience and parlaying my experiences of becoming a sahelien farmer.
It was a real shame niether event took place, it will be a regret.
By Friday I was well buffered from the pain and stepped away from the more comfortable confines of the hostel to the open road where I knew the entire trip from Maradi to Dan Saga would be dreadful.
10 hours later and on the brink for complete collapse I shakily entered my house and then after about a three minute rest was stormed by Nazifi's Army, and other villagers inquiring to why I was walking so oddly.
Within the hour my exhaustion was exchanged by rage from what I came home to.
The first of which was noticing "Attaboy" was starved, despite having food in reserve for him and my ox "Charlie". Then my rabbits numbering about twenty were left for god knows how long without clean water.
What I saw in the water dish was a disgusting moldy cesspool of neglect from my closest friend and partner in my tree nursery.
Which, of which, was found completely treeless except for the trees purchased from Niamey and painstakingly brought to Dan Saga. My goal this year was to distribute these trees freely to local farmers who helped me out last year and showed interests towards adapting the improved management techniques to their fields.
I guess my absence meant more than just a loss of time not spent in my village.
The chickens ate a sahelien style smörgåsbord of about 1500 acacia tree sprouts.
I will never feel bad again when i see millions of chickens culled during bird flu outbreaks
Five months of accumulating supplies, planning, composting, pulling water, putting projects upon projects together to plan for this growing season, and all for nothing.
The night ended with me losing control, breaking many things, and coming the closest to making the final decision to quit.
That night I took some time to myself, took a lengthy bucket bath and wrote extensively how I felt, it even helped to pet my rabbits.
The next day I apologized to my kids and chief for making "mahaucaci" (ma'haw'ka'chi) "crazy"
They laughed, agreed, understood and forgave.
The next day, my friend Mamman and I got to the bottom of the issues and developed a contingency plan of what to do with the nursery, and why the rabbits were out of water.
Apparently the kids won't work for him, if I am not around. Go figure.
On a positive note however that afternoon about a couple hours prior to sunset, hot season officially ended for my village. We were hit by our first magnificent rain, the next day I walked out of a ghost town, nobody to say good bye to, alone, and unsure of my future in Niger.
Everyone was planting.
This cannot be how this chapter of my life is finished.
It hurts to think that because of a faulty rope fastening a hammock was the death kiss to my service, if it is I leave Niger thankful of my time spent, but I will return a shattered and heartbroken man.
Dan Saga has given me everything I came to find and take from this experience. It took over two decades to accomplish, but the biggest life goal I had since being about knee high to a grass hopper has been achieved.
In exactly one month I will be 30 years young.
The next day I was in Niamey and learned of Patrick's death twenty minutes after crawling off the bus.