It’s shameful. I’m shameless. I call myself a blogger and my last post was May 13, 2014. Wait. I don’t call myself a blogger…never have. But my last post really was over 4 months ago. Long enough for us to travel from Niger to the US, travel a zillion miles in the US, travel to S. Korea to visit a very special family member, travel back to Niger, host a team from the US in Niger and conduct 2 children’s camps. Long enough for me to forget how to login to WordPress and forget my password. And long enough that one of my offspring was actually begging me to write in my blog.
So. Here I am. Other than lack of time, I have no other excuse. And the time (or lack thereof) excuse doesn’t really fly either. Oh maybe it did at first, but then I just got in the habit of blogging in my head and never transferring it to the screen. Head blogging is so much faster/easier and can be done without any electronic devices. Imagine anything being done these days without any electronics. But I’m quite sure the that even as technologically advanced as we are, there is no way that the next generation will be able to extract the blogs from my head once I’ve moved on. And that’s really my goal in writing. To record my history. In my words. Rambling and all.
So, I could pick from quite a large number of things to write about, since life really has been quite full since May 13th. (Who am I kidding? Life is always full!) But I need to ease back into this slowly, so will only pick one thing to write about. Because I know that I’m really adept at jumping from one subject to another (aka rambling).
Just over 2 weeks ago, I was leaving Sahel Academy where Tobi is an 8th grader. The school is about 7 miles from our house. A reasonable commute most would suppose. Unless you lived here in Niamey – then you would suppose differently. But look at that – I’m already getting off my topic and I haven’t even stated it yet.
I left my house at 7am to head to school for the Mom’s in Touch (MIT) prayer time. It’s there mom’s gather to pray for the school/students/families and other needs every Thursday morning. After an effective prayer time I was on my way to visit my mom-in-law (MIL, as opposed to MIT). I had been back in Niger for nearly 3 weeks and had yet to visit them at their place (there’s that ‘no time’ excuse rearing it’s head again!) Because of construction going on, the roads are all messed up and the bridge is only open for vehicles crossing the river to the Harobunda side. That’s the side Sahel is on. The side I don’t live on. As soon as you cross the bridge, you’re almost at the school. But leaving – that’s another story. And a LONG way around. As you leave the school, the bridge is there – right there – to get you to your side of the river. But you are not allowed to cross it going that direction. I don’t really understand why, but then again what do I know about road construction. Not much. Except that until it’s complete, it’s a real pain. That I know.
Here’s the original bridge- to the immediate right. The one in the distance is the ‘new’ bridge, aka ‘the Chinese bridge’.
Here’s a better picture of the Niger River.
So. I (and everyone else in a motorized vehicle) have to get across the river using the new bridge. New things usually sound better. And the new bridge is 4 lanes, not 2 like the original one. That means more room for camels and donkeys and bikes and motos to cross together with all the vehicles. That is better. But in this case it’s not really better, since it spits you out in a different part of the city than you wanted to be in. Downtown. But alas, without a ferry to drive my car on to to forge the river where it’s close to my house, drive around I must. (Just yesterday Neal, Tobi and I discussed the idea of building a ferry near us – where we are closest to the river, to get us across. It would save an exponential amount of time, and the headaches it would save. And I mean literal headaches. Unless of course your vehicle sinks into the Niger River. That would be a really big headache.
Here’s the road to the new bridge. I know. It looks pretty nice. But shouldn’t have to be here!
And a cool sunset view. At least there’s that.
Back to the new bridge. I did finally cross it – and as always found myself heading towards downtown. It was about 9am. I navigate speed bump road and enter the big circle (Niger loves circle intersections. My directionally challenged self loathes them).
Speed bump road – the road you enter when you leave the bridge. I shouldn’t have to be here either. (As you can see, these pics were not taken on the day of this incident – as evidenced by dusk/sunset).
I think there are 5 ‘spokes’ off of this particular intersection. I needed to go to the one straight across. I was either stopped or just starting to move (I can’t really remember) and I hear the sickening sound of a collision. And that sound was very close to my vehicle. Darn it! It WAS my vehicle. I had collided with a taxi, or a taxi had collided with me. Both of us had different viewpoints. Now as much as I loathe round points (circle intersections), I loathe taxis even more. Not the drivers personally, but the way they drive their vehicles. It’s lawless. The collision was at such a slow speed (remember, I’m not sure I was even moving), that my seat belt didn’t even catch. What I think happened is Mr. Taxi was coming in from my right, but very close to me. I was stopped and just started to go as he slithered up the right side of my 4Runner, and it appeared (in hindsight) that he was trying to make a U-turn around me. His back driver’s side door ran into my right front bumper as he was turning. That was the sickening sound. My fiberglass bumper cracked a little bit and his door was banged in a bit, but there was no broken lights or glass. I stayed put inside my vehicle and he got out of his vehicle and came to me. He wasn’t an unpleasant man as far as taxi drivers go. We both asked each other what the other was doing/thinking.
Here’s the intersection where it all happened.
I’m going to stop my story here. Partly because it’s already getting long and partly because I’m hoping to motivate myself t write more frequently than every 4 months.
I will say this – Regardless of whose fault it was, I wish I would have offered Mr. Taxi some compensation and been on my way. But I didn’t…. And that I will regret for a long time. But there were some things to be learned…