Friday, 18 July 2008

Were you aware...

There are many things that I experience and different things that happen in everyday life here that I may have never blogged about. There are lots of things about Niger and the people that I haven't talk about – so here’s your chance to find out a bit more than you may have knows…

- I left America a year ago today! Check out these airport pictures.
This one I'm checking my flight times... are they sure that my flight leaves in an hour and not three - I'm not ready to say goodbye yet!

This one is my parents and I. If you look close enough you will see the way my eyes are all red - there were many tears that day :(

Last minute hair fixing before heading to the plane!

And then the Lord gives me times like this to smile about...
This was taken when Fanny and I went to Susan's village with her. We were hanging out on a mat and Susan snapped this shot on her break from working in her field.

- My supervisor and his family are headed back to the states for a few months. They served in Nigeria for 14 years (I think) and have been here in Niger for 2 years (I think). They have 4 daughters and they are so much fun! They live in a town about 6 hours from me but in a few short weeks they will be oceans away! Please pray for them as they make this transition back to the states for a while.
- I haven't met a national in Niger yet that couldn't speak at least two if not 3 - 5 languages. Except for one...
- The one person being Belki, K's daughter. She refuses to speak anything but Fulfulde. The problem is, only Fulani (and random, white missionaries) speak Fulfulde. So she's in for a treat when she grows up and can't communicate with the rest of the world around her!
- Those languages being - Zarma, Hausa, Fulfulde, French, Tameshequ, English. I have not yet found a person who can speak all 6.
- There is a Zarma man who’s name is Yawo who sells bread in my town. My American friends and I call him “the bread guy”. Most every night him and his friends bring the bread into my compound and set it all up on tables. He normally has about 100 loaves. Then they clean it and cut off the hard corners with a pair of scissors and bags the bread two to a bag. Then Yawo sells the bread for 500cfa, that’s a little over a dollar for two loaves. But if I only want one, they separate them for me and I give him 250cfa.
- Yawo speaks Zarma, Hausa and I think one other language. He thinks it’s great when I greet him in his native language! Then he always tells me that I can speak Zarma. I make sure he knows that I’m only able to do the greetings and say thank you.
- I live in a 4 bedroom home with two bathrooms. One of which does not have a working toilet.
- Everytime I go out for a walk in the streets I'm amazed at how many people know my name and know that I speak Fulfulde. Most of those people being men.
- It's not wrong or bad to stare here.
- It's not wrong or bad to follow the white girl around and watch her every move. Or mimic her, or copy whatever she says. I can't keep the children away!
- During the hot season (right now) the temperratures can easily reach into the high 120s and sometimes into the 130s.
- There is no humidity in Niger except after it rains.
- When it rains it gets cold and we love that!
- I wear African clothes all the time now with a head tie. I only wear American clothes or t-shirts when I'm at home or in the bush for a long period of time. Other than that, I don't leave my house unless I'm decked out like the women here.
- Anassara is the word for "white person" here and I hear that about 59 times everyday from random people.
- I walk to Post Office about twice a week. (sometimes more if I know that I have something coming.)
- I call home about once a week for .26 cents a minute.
- I live right on the main road in my town and it's quit busy all day, everyday. Early in the morning when the buses leave they blow their horns as they pass by my house. I'm determined they do it only because they know that I .
- Not only is the road busy but my house is a great stopping point for everybody and their brother. I have company everyday and sometimes for hours a day.
- I was sent a box of Lucky Charms (my favorite!) back in December by my friend, Kelsey. I saved them until last month to eat them!
- There are motorcycle taxis EVERYWHERE here. I can take one anywhere in my town for 100 cfa. That's about 25 cents.
- I have a motorcycle but I don't use it very much. I find it easier to hop on someone else's and fork over a quarters worth of cfa.
- There is nowhere here to print pictures for good quality. I could pay a dollar a picture and have it printed and look like it came from the early 1900's but I'm just going to wait til I get home... (for those of you who know how much I love taking pictures and what a huge part of my life that is, you know how hard it is for me to not have a place to print them!)
- The Fulani men and women don’t eat together. They separate the food into different bowls and give the men theirs and the women take theirs to separate places. They then set the bowl on the ground and everyone eats it until it’s gone or they are full. Then they cover it and wait til later, or the next day to finish it.
- To my knowledge Susan and I aren't the only Americans that live in my town. I've heard that there are a number of Peace Corps workers. But I have only seen one other American and she was dressed like I would dress in America with the exception of a head tie. She was on the other side of the road and kept walking like she was on some kind of power mission and she couldn't lose her train of thought. I talked to two PC girls in another town last week and they said that there are many PC in my town but they hibernate in the hostel here and don't come out except for work...
- The Fulani love jewelry. They wear large necklaces that sometimes cover most of their chests and have earrings that are huge! Most all Fulani women wear anywhere from 5 - 20 bracelets that have a distinctive "Fulani" look to them. Even baby girls where the bracelets and when they grow out of them, they are cut off and replaced new ones that fit.
- A baby girl will have her ears pierced within days of being born.
- The women carry their babies on their backs as early as a day old. They wrap a piece of material around the baby and tie it snuggly around their breasts in the front.
- Many of the women and young girls, even baby girls, will wear waist jewelry. This consists of many strands of the same color beads (normally bright green, pink, yellow, etc.) wrapped around the waist and covered by their clothing. The babies don't normally wear much clothing so the beads are always seen. It's a sign of beauty to wear the waist jewelry.
- Another sign of beauty is the hena that the women place on their feet (and sometimes their ankles, hands and forearms). It comes from a leaf that is dried and then crushed to make a fine powder. They add water to it and it makes a green paste. Here in Niger the women will use electrical tape and place a long strip of it that runs along the length of their foot. From their big toe, around the back of their foot and then it stops at the pinky toe on the other side. The tape is about half an inch from the bottom of their feet. Then tape is placed on each toe so that the tip of the toe and the toenail are still showing. Sometimes they will place small pieces of tape on their toenails to keep the die off of them. After all the tape has been applied, then they take the hena and spread it all over the bottom of their feet and the tips of their toes to the edge of the tape. They wrap their feet in plastic bags to keep the paste moist and they wait a few hours. Normally this is done at night when they can sleep or in the afternoon when it's rest time. After it's all washed off they have a bright orange die from the hena. The second step is to take the salt like crystals that is ammonia based and mix it with water and soot, so it will go farther. They place this all over the orange on your feet. This won't die the actual skin, only the places that are orange, so it's ok to take all the tape off. They again cover their feet with plastic bags and wait about an hour or so for this one. Once it's all washed off they have a beautiful solid black that covers the ends of their toes and the base of their feet.
- All women getting married prep themselves with hena on their feet and sometimes cover their hands in beautiful designs. But just because you wear the hena doesn't mean you're getting married. Even small baby girls have their feet done. I love to wear the hena on my feet!
- It is not uncommon to see camels everywhere. Sometimes I walk out my gate during the day and there are two or three camels walking in front of me loaded down with supplies for the market or with a man or two riding.
- Most of you are aware that I had a lizard friend visiting for a while in my home. I was ok with him being there until he invaded my personal space. The day I got home from vacation in Italy I found him in MY BED! If you remember, K was sick during that time so I went to Yawo who came to my rescue. Fati was standing by in case she was needed. With a big stick Yawo chased the lizard around my room as I pulled all my things away from the wall and all my drawers from my dresser. The lizard was eventually knocked out with Yawo’s stick hitting abilities and taken outside. Issabu Yawo! (Thank you – in Zarma – Yawo!)
- There are many nights that Fati and Belki will share their dinner with me in the evenings. They will bring the rice or noodles with the sauce into my house or invite me outside. We chow down using our right hands – Yummy!

I will for sure have more “were you aware” information here and there. And when I do, I will share. There are always things that come to mind every now and then that I think about sharing.
I hope that you have enjoyed this tid-bitty blog and helps you to see a little more into my life here.