Well, this is it. What a journey it’s been. Even though we do it all the time it always amazes me when we make a plan, then execute the plan, then go on to the next plan. We are now home and ready to execute the next plan. Well almost. But that’s another story. On a side note, we know that God orders our steps but we have to take those steps once we hear His direction. Thus, we make and execute plans.
And now on to our 3 day journey back to Niger…
Just as we were getting ready to leave Benin City on Thursday morning we received a phone call from the Bible School asking if we could stop by on our way. So with our vehicle loaded we headed back to the school. We were met by some representatives of the student body expressing their love and appreciation for our coming and for Neal’s teaching. They handed us an envelope explaining that they had taken an offering for us and wanted us to know how much they had received. Wow! We stood there grateful, blessed and shocked. We know what it’s like to be a student. After more hugs and goodbyes and promises to return, we had to hit the road. What a sweet send off.
Leaving Benin City
Not only are there creative business names – check out this bumper sticker. It had to have been created by a Nigerian!
Takes a long time to get through the city.
A LONG time.
I think this guy was feeling a bit overwhelmed by the thought of 3 days of this…
Finally some open road.
Love these plantations.
Lots of ‘markets’ on the side of the road. Would have loved to bring some of that stuff home!
Lots of curves in these jungle roads.
That’s one way to look at life… but not fun to be behind him!
On and on we go.
Entering another town.
Thought this was funny. “Progressive Remedial Class”.
From Palm trees to traffic.
Lots of traffic!
Another interesting business – Islamic Store and Honey Depot. Really?
Lunch! The food here was good – well, the rice. We weren’t as impressed with the chicken and the tables were literally covered in dirt. Fortunately I travel with wet wipes.
More cracked up cars.
We weren’t this packed.
Some of the ba-zillion trucks we had to pass.
Now this looked familiar to us. These Fulani people were probably from Northern Nigeria, and maybe even Niger.
The guys on motorcycles were traveling with their counterparts on donkeys.
This truck was at one of the places we stopped for fuel. And I can testify that those are some of the best pineapple you’ll ever eat.
Entering Abuja. Our stopping place for the Night. Abuja is Nigeria’s capital city. The part we were in was quite modern.
When we were here over 3 weeks ago, we had a taxi man direct us to our hotel. We took his phone number. We were able to find him again and he helped us get there again. Yes, it was the same place, and no – we couldn’t remember how to get there. In fact we told our taxi man that we’d meet him where we did before, only to find out we had no idea where that was. He found us.
We checked into our room. It was 4:30. The journey had taken us 7 1/2 hours. We felt like visiting the city (at least the part we were in) more than we did when we arrived from Niger. That’s a longer part of the trip. Of course we only explored the parts we could walk to, and that before dark. So that gave us about an hour. As I said, this part of the city is very developed and modern. If I didn’t know from where I had just come and where I was going, but had been airlifted and dropped right on this street, I might assume I was in some city in America. Keep in mind that my perspective is Niger…. Anyway, we spotted a little place called “Chloe’s Cupcake Heaven”. That looked intriguing. But I also wanted to visit the grocery store I saw. There we purchased a few packages of Oreo’s to give as gifts (and to eat- we needed food for the trip of course). We made our way back to Cupcake Heaven and decided to have dessert before dinner. Scandalous. Neal and I both had ice cream – go figure, since we were in Cupcake Heaven. But Tobi had his eye on a peanut butter cupcake. Then he had his mouth on it. He gave great reviews, and the ice cream was pretty delectable too. I didn’t have my camera, but as always when I don’t, I wish I did. So, no pictures of peanut butter cupcakes. Oh – on a side note, while we were in the grocery store, I saw a young white lady. I specify that she was white because it was the first white person we had seen that we didn’t know in almost 4 weeks. It was remarkable and we quietly commented to each other – “Hey, look! A white person!” Then we saw a 2nd one getting cupcakes. What a novelty that was.
We made our way back to our hotel, had dinner (more rice and spicy red stew), then made our way to our ultimate goal of sleeping. While we were relaxing, Neal (who has better hearing than I), heard a sound in our air conditioner. Not a big deal thinks I, who supposes it’s a lizard. We like lizards. They eat mosquitoes. But he’s not convinced it’s a lizard. Because he can see little ‘hands’ reaching up and grabbing pieces of wood from the frame around the AC. Lizards don’t have hands. Rats do. Sort of. Lizards we can do. Rats, not so much. We made a call to the front desk to explain our situation. They said they’d be right up. I think it was close to 11pm. Right up they were with with I think was mosquito spray. If it had been a lizard, he would have taken care of the mosquitoes. They explained that the place had recently been fumigated. Good to know. They sprayed and we thanked them. The scratching stopped. We knew the critter wasn’t’ dead, but hoped that he had moved on to greener pastures.
My mind was going way too fast and the wave of exhaustion that wafted over me while eating ice cream in Cupcake Heaven was gone. The internet at this hotel was so fast and I wanted to take advantage of it. But I knew I needed to sleep. After almost 2 hours of working really hard at getting to sleep, I finally got up. I got some stuff done on our website of all things. Until 3:30 am. Then it took probably another hour to get to sleep after that. At least I wasn’t driving…
Six o’clock came right on time, just as I had gotten into an amazingly restful sleep. That ended quickly as we got up, repacked the car and tried to eat breakfast but discovered it was just too early to eat. Taxi man was there waiting to lead us out of the maze we were in.
On our way were we with a beautiful sunrise and lovely view of Zuma Rock.
This is as far as Taxi Man needed to go. We stopped on the road to pay him.
The rock is big.
So we were able to see it for a long time.
Quite a long time.
It looks like there’s a face etched into the face of the rock.
Here’s a closer look. It’s upside down. Tobi noticed it first.
We weren’t done with trucks.
This is the only picture I got but if you look closely on the right you’ll see a small sign that says ‘Yes Fuel’. This is because there are loads of fuel stations on the road, but only a small percentage of them actually had fuel. Thus the sign.
Thought this was a funny truck. Grabbed a snap even though it was in line at the border.
When we were traveling down from Maradi to Abuja on our first day it took us 11 1/2 hours. We made much better time today and arrived in only 9 1/2 hours. That thanks in part to the iPad that told us where we were going with a little blue dot. It was extremely helpful. We knew where we needed to be and that knowledge combined with the little blue dot and we could see which way to go. We didn’t get lost once. And though driving through Northern Nigeria can historically be a big hairy deal, we had no problems. My Nigerian husband (don’t worry, I didn’t get married again in Nigeria, I’m talking about Neal) is a pro at talking with the police. One of the police even said ‘You’re the white man that speaks Hausa’. He remembered us. So we had no issues at police check points, no one demanding puppies or road rule books. (see previous posts).
We are not fearful by nature, but we do like to be wise. And that means at the very least not driving into crowds. We got to one small city and we could see from a distance that there was a crowd. But there was no where else for us to go. People were obviously dressed up and heading somewhere. The further we drove, the bigger the crowd got. Neal kept saying, “This isn’t good. We shouldn’t be here.” I pointed out that this appeared to be an organized demonstration/event as there were guys in uniforms directing traffic. Sort of. So in spite of the excitement and Arabic banners we counted on this being something peaceful. Maybe a party of some sort….
We were traveling behind a transport vehicle that was packed full of people. We were in a Toyota 4Runner, but this truck was much bigger than us so the people could look down into our vehicle. I’m guessing we looked pretty conspicuous, being white and all. They just stared at us as I resisted the urge to whip out my camera and begin snapping pictures of whatever this was. Because I was smart enough to know that that is the very thing that could turn an intended peaceful event into something not so peaceful (aka: Riot) The crowd grew larger and more colorful, and finally swelled at the entrance to a big mosque, which was obviously the final destination. For them, not us. We were able to quietly move along. The whole procession I’m guessing was about 2 kilometers.
Other than that little bit of excitement, our trip to the border was uneventful. And the border was pretty uneventful too. They remembered us and asked if we liked their country which we of course responded in the positive. And it was true!
Tobi and I stayed in the car and I snuck this picture while waiting. They’re writing down all our passport info by hand.
We spent the night with Jonathan and Dani, our friends and fellow missionaries in Maradi. We had a great meal (chicken enchiladas) and a quick night of fellowship. They got an earful about our trip, as they were really the first we talked to about the amazing adventure we had been on. Sadly, I didn’t take any pictures there either.
Fortunately I was able to increase the hours of sleep, as did Neal, and we were on our way to Niamey (home) early the next morning.
This is looking more like home.
Such a stark contrast to where we’ve just come from.
At least they’re working on the roads…
Now that’s the Niger I know!
8 1/2 hours later we arrived in Niamey.
For now, there are more mosques than churches. But we can see what can be in a West African country. If God can do it in Nigeria, He can do it here! And I believe he is calling the Nigerians to help.
The Niger River in the distance.
Our gate is straight up ahead. Under the big tree.
Home sweet home
We’re thankful that God ordered our steps to Nigeria and back, and I know we’ll be processing all that He did for some time to come. We so appreciate everyone who spent time praying for us. Prayer works and we know that is why this trip was such a great success and something we’ll always remember with great joy. And we believe that there were seeds that were planted that will produce fruit – fruit that remains.