18 February 2011

Toto, We’re Not in Kansas Anymore!

17 September 2011
One thing I appreciate so much about having studied language in France is that I don’t feel as though I am in a COMPLETELY foreign place.  The road system and driving rules don’t seem that strange . . . I know what the products in the shops are . . . I’m familiar with many of the name-brands.
But there are many more things that are strikingly different.  And today was full of them.
I’ve been trying to observe some traffic rules.  So far, like in France, whomever is on your right side has the right-of-way.  However, I also think He Who Has the Loudest Horn Goes First.  Round-abouts are tricky enough when driving, imagine trying to cross one on foot.  This morning I went to Le Petit Marché with my new favorite Kiwi.  As we made our way from the car to the market, we found ourselves at the corner of a very busy traffic circle needing to get to the other side.  I looked both ways and started to cross . . . do you remember that old computer game, Frogger?  It was a lot like that, but worse.
It seems that here in Niamey the primary roads are all paved, but the secondary ones are dirt . . . or in many cases, sand.  Driving in sand is much like driving in snow.  It’s easy to feel a ‘skidding’ or ‘swerving’ of the back tires when turning . . . and it’s VERY easy to get stuck.  Which is what happened to us this morning.  Thankfully there were three little (and I mean little . . . about 8 years old-ish) boys begging on the street corner.  When they saw the car come to a stop, they jumped at the occasion to ask for money.  We asked them to push.  When that didn’t work, I hopped out and joined them, first in the front as L. put the car in reverse, then in the back . . . after just a few seconds we found ourselves running behind the pick-up laughing.  We paid the boys a few hundred CFA and were on our way again.  I can only imagine what they thought of us silly western women.
The afternoon was a bit less adventure-ish.  We drove quite aways to the other side of town to the Wadata Artisan Center where my furniture will be custom made.  It had been suggested that I bring pictures with dimensions of what I would like to have made, so I went shopping on Ikea.com as I figured it would all be simple designs . . . pretty hard to get wrong.  So we went in, sat down, looked at some of their photos of previously made furniture, then pulled out my own.  We were there half-an-hour tops.  It would be no problem to have them all made . . . even a futon!  We just have to go back tomorrow to negotiate price and pick out some chairs for the kitchen table!    


Airport taximan said...

Deb Deb Deb. Loved your email this morning. I was thinking your post was going to end with the furniture makers laughing at your ikea drawings. I am pleasantly surprised that they can oblige your futon cravings. Hope things are going well and your transition goes smooth! How come your little dates don't match on the blog posts? It's throwing me off. Does niger live in a different month zone?? Live on a different calendar? WAIT.....are their days converted through CFA's....that's in the millions of days, which when things are boiled down.....yeah im out. good luck. I would die converting numbers and currency.

Praying for you and your team- jo's just great, results were clean as a whistle! Bring on more water.

Bethany said...

I'm so glad to read these updates. Please keep them coming as you have time (and Internet)!! And I love the pictures... they truly paint a thousand words. =) Love to skype when you are settled. Miss you lots. And I'm truly amazed by the Lord and ALL that He is doing in and through you. It's quite amazing.