We got back from our amazing trip to Nigeria and I was thankful that we had 1 full week to prepare for the next journey. We will be gone from Niger until July 21.
Our next destination was Lusaka, Zambia. But to get anywhere from West Africa (Niger specifically) is no easy assignment. Unless you happen to own your own flying machine – which we don’t. But rather than despair over the itinerary, we decided to take advantage of it. We entered the plane – Asky Airlines in Niamey, Niger. I must say I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the aircraft we were boarding. It was much nicer than I expected. And contrary to its reputation, it was on time.
Grama and Grampa (Neal’s parents) took us to the airport at 6am for our 8:30am flight. They were armed with bacon and egg muffins and bagels which were very appreciated and hit the spot while we were waiting for boarding.
Here we’re on the bus at the Niamey airport being shuttled to the plane – which is about 20 yards from where we had been waiting. No joke.
I didn’t know if they would be annoyed with me and my camera, so I attempted to snap this picture secretly as I got to the top of the stairs before entering the plane. No small feat as I was carrying a carry-on, computer bag and purse.
The first flight was 45 minutes and was from Niamey, Niger to Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. Here in Ouaga we’re waiting to board our Ethiopian Air flight to Addis Ababa.
Here’s some snaps of us on the plane…. This one is a bit scary (of me), but shows how we were sitting.
Tobi has learned to slumber anywhere. Notice the African man next to him with the blanket on his head. Chilly!
Fly the friendly skies…
But you may not want to eat their food…Actually, I usually find airline food to be quite edible. This time, not so much.
It was dark in Addis Ababa when we landed – but this is the outside of the airport.
All our our flights were on time and the guest house pick up was waiting for us. We booked a guest house online – based only on reviews. In addition to its price being less expensive than hotels I checked, a big selling point was that it not only offered breakfast, but free airport pickup as well. The man who picked us up was the owner of the guest house. Z Guest House to be specific. I’d call it more of a B&B though. Our host was obviously awed by the amount of luggage we had. We only had 1 suitcase each, but they were at their max weight. And what he didn’t know was that this was our ‘stuff’ for the next 5 months. So I say that 50 pounds each is pretty good! Fortunately he came prepared and had some ropes to tie a couple suitcases to the top of his little car.
Enjoying our first meal in Addis Ababa.
The observant observer would recognize that we are wearing the same clothes we wore when boarding the plane in Niamey…and all through the journey. It was close to 9pm when we arrived at the guest house. We were hungry and asked our host about restaurants in walking distance. He gave us directions and quickly sent us on our way in hopes that they would still be open. Thus no wardrobe change. Oh – and we asked if we needed to change money or if they would accept U.S. dollars. He responded by handing us about $40 worth of Birr, the local currency. We’re already recommending this as a great place to stay!
We began a quick jaunt at a quick pace (walking with Neal is always done at a quick pace) down streets that were unfamiliar. After several minutes of walking in the dark it was hard to miss the car coming up and slowing down right behind us. None of us are alarmists, but it was a bit unnerving. When the vehicle stopped just as we were getting out of the way, we recognized our host. Wonder what he wanted? He quickly explained that after we left he began worrying that maybe the recommended restaurant was closed so decided to come after us and drive us there himself, or to another place if in fact it was closed. What a host! Again, we highly recommend the Z Guest House and we haven’t stayed there a night yet. Turns out the restaurant was in fact closed. Todd (our host had a difficult name and told us to call him Todd for short) drove us to a street that had quite a few eating establishments and though further, was still in walking distance. Especially for we who had been on a plane traveling since 6am.
Tobi ordered beef stir fry, and though it looked or tasted nothing like what we expected stir fry to taste like, it was wonderful. He shared. Neal and I got pizza and it was equally wonderful and cheesy (we’re a bit cheese deprived, given the price of cheese in Niger). We shared too… It was quite a fun cafe type place and they were happy that we were so pleased with our food. I might add though, that when it comes to food, we are quite easy to please! We enjoyed a very cool walk ‘home’ – I’m guessing about at least 2 kilometers. Fortunate, given the pizza…Sleep tonight would be sweet!
This is a picture of the guest house taken from Todd’s house. Our room is the bottom right – where Neal is walking out.
And this is Todd’s house taken from our room. He and his wife are retired (except for running the guest house) and live here with their children who help them operate the business. The place is small, but the landscaping beautiful.
This is the living room / Tobi’s bedroom. I LOVED the big windows and all the sunlight. This might be a good time to mention the weather was incredible!! The nights were sweatshirt chilly which was quite a novelty for us. And those windows. They are open, allowing in some wonderfully fresh cool air – no screens required!
This was our room. There is a feeling I love, that brings back memories of my Minnesota childhood. In the Spring, when it began to thaw, I used to love to sit by any window that had the sun streaming through and let it warm my skin. That’s what this felt like. It was wonderful. In Niger, one does all one can to prevent the sun from streaming into the house. By all means. So this was a nice change.
The bathroom though cozy, was sufficient. There was also a fridge which we used, and a small stove which we did not. (Too many eating places to experience!)
Thus began our 5 month journey.
Next up: Exploring Addis Ababa!