les hippos

went on a canoe to find the hippos on monday evening with hassan, the guy who took us to the giraffes. this was the biggest adventure yet (!) and just as good as the giraffes but in a different way. it was really peaceful going down the niger in a wooden canoe (which was sealed not with silicone but with mud). for us at least (clive, jo and john. and me.) – i suspect the 3 guys paddling us were less chilled out. it was almost tempting to dip your toe or hand in the water, but the risk of tropical disease was a bit too worrying for that.

us in a canoe
we saw several groups of people along the river as we went past – either bathing or washing – and were met with differing responses. sone little boys were pulling funny poses at us and then grinning, others shouted “cadeau!” just like on the streets (and we pretended to lob them things), most just waved. one group of young ladies started shouting at hassan and co, telling them that we couldn’t take photos (not that we were anyway!). apparently they thought we might sell them as postcards.

when we got to the island where the hippos usually were, they weren’t. but a fisherman came along just as we were losing hope, and he said they were about 40 mins upstream. so we continued, and found 5 hippos. it was brilliant. we got out of the canoe and walked as close as we dared (not close, my photos are at 10x optical zoom). there was a big daddy hippo who was huge and had a huge mouth which you saw when he yawned. there were smaller ones which i thikn he was a bit defensive of. our guides were certainly scared and didn’t go nearly as close as we did.

the sun set while we were photographing the hippos, so we paddled back though dusk and then through darkness. it was a great experience, athough would have been better in a full (not new) moon.

hippos hippos 2 hippos 3

photos of giraffes and la cloche

as promised, now i’m back in the uk on broadband, here are the photos of la cloche and stuff in my previous post.

la cloche the sign for la cloche, niger’s finest nightclub

la cloche too partying into the night at la cloche

ooh la la how could i not put this on the web?? roisin and rodders at their best ;-)

giraffes 1 mummy (?) and baby giraffe

giraffes 2 brothers and sisters having lunch together in the giraffe reserve

giraffes and la cloche

it’s 1am monday morning and a tranche of AMMA stalwarts have just left for the airport for their royal air maroc flight home. (alex, cedric, dan, doug p, mat, roisin, trev.) plus the bae146 is transiting to dakar tomorrow early, so the DODO dudes, the engineers and the faam people went to bed early for their 3am or 6am buses. so it’s a bit weird really as we have depleted numbers, no internet (hence writing this now and posting it later) and will generally be doing the tourist stuff.

this afternoon we went to see the only giraffes in west africa, about an hour’s drive from niamey. we got a rickety bus there and it was a great trip. luckily, i felt fine, having detoxed my system earlier in the day (in an unconventional yet effective manner). i wasn’t so sure that i was going to be fine at first, but it was ok. i think eating restaurant food is really getting to me now. i don’t know how some people did it for 6 weeks, i would definitely have made my own food a bit if i was here longer than 2 weeks.

back to the giraffes. they were lovely. i took lots of photos. there were quite a few young ones, the youngest only 2 months and already taller than alan woolley. amazing.

had a good time this evening. ate boring food at the lebanese place, where they brought us 2 litres of red wine without us even asking! i don’t know what all the restaurants – and especially the hotel – are going to do without us! on our way home from the restaurant in the taxi, the driver momoud asked if we were going to la cloche (the nightclub that we collectively have frequented). he was laughing at us for going but in a friendly way.

must go to sleep now, didn’t get much last night. neither did anyone i think, after la cloche. doug and john were raving about how great it was last night like teenagers (i paraphrase mat there). and i have photographs to prove it… which i will add when i get back to the uk

last post from africa

in proper time, anyhow. i think we lose our internet this evening but i might write stuff and publish later.

went to posh italian restaurant le pilier last night. was great food. i had home made ravioli and then an aubergine and frittata terrine, whichwas great but far too filling considering i had lunch only a few hours previously.

we lunched at 4pm becasue we went to see artisans making their wares (sandals, jewellery, batik etc) and of course we had to buy stuff while we were there. there are some families that live inside the grounds of the national museum in mud huts and do batik. we went to one guy’s hut to see his work and ended up buying £35 worth between the three of us. i’ll post a photo of him later.

after posh dinner for all AMMA folk (including awards ceremony) some of us went to la cloche, probably the best nightclub in niger. it was quite good, except that i wasnt feeling that well. the music was good, mostly african pop, with amusing videos thatemployed technology and effects straight from the 1980s. the beats were good though and most of the locals who were dancing were really quite good (in comparison to us lot!). saw one of the bar staff from the hotel there. he was the one who laughed at me cos he thought i couldnt say “deux bieres” without considering it for a while.

we only got back to the hotel at gone 4, once the club had quietened down. unfortunately i was rather ill when i got back, but on the upside i emptied the contents of my entire digestive system so i feel much better today! should have done that long ago and maybe i would have felt better days ago!

today we have a brief (now) and then we are going to see the giraffes. and if anyone wants me to bring a souveneir for them, let m eknow by text as my mobile works. but i dont have much cash left so i reserve the right to deny any request i can’t be arsed with. ;-) xxx

the MCS (mythical convective system) that actually arrived

it’s raining! well, it was earlier. which wasn’t predicted. unlike al the other MCSs that were predicted and never arrived. (thanks to rodders for the re-christening of the MCS.) it has now stopped, and the radar and satellite are favourable for a drier evening – useful for our end of AMMA al fresco party. i think we have ordered 5 or 10 times more beer than the hotel suggested for 90 people, and scractched the goat carcass and opted for crisps instead. they had to explain to them that it was the british way, and we could get chips and brochettes (local name for kebabs) afterwards if we needed to ;-)

not sure if i mentioned before (and the connection is so slow i don’t want to check) but at the french AMMA party the other day, they had 6 roasted [almost] whole goats, stuffed with rice. and that was all there was in the way of food, except for some goat kebabs. so all the veggie brits ordered food, and the staff brought us a table and chairs. so we were the only ones eating off a table, in the middle of someone elses party, with our own food!

hopefully i’ll be able to report on tonights party, but we are clearing the operations room today so might not have internet after today.

claire and jackie  this morning, claire, jackie and i were going to go to the boulangerie for breakfast, but the weather suddenly (over 30 min) changed from just overcast to black skies, wind and then torrential rain. so we didn’t.

torrential rain  you can’t see it in the photo but this was torrential rain. you can see it running off the gutter of the roof.
went to maggi’s for lunch, so i had my first taste of african-ish food. really, the only thing that was local was fried plantain (sweet and greasy) and what might have been breadfruit or yam that was also fried. was all very nice, and in the local style we were there for about 2 hours despite not ordering all that much!

everyone has put their photos on the network now. gareth had some great ones, so here’s some of my favourite fo his pictures:

biere niger  what we have been drinkingevery evening. it’s good cold, less good warm.

little fluffy clouds  the other recurring theme of the field trip – clouds!