Reub's journey

23 August 2009


Niamey street, through the cloudy glass of the taxi window

Niamey is a big city, alive with vendors hawking phone cards, cigarettes and street food; there are noisy motorcycles, dented taxis with cracked windshields, wandering cattle with long curved horns, and everywhere spotted goats munching on garbage. The streets are mostly unmarked, and all but the main roads are deeply rutted dirt tracks with huge puddles left by the passing storms of rainy season. Side streets are lined with the mud walls of people's compounds.

Lizards on the mud wall of the hotel.

We found ourselves at a little hotel named "Auberge de Relaxe" where we shared our air-conditioned upstairs room with Jessica. There was even a small refrigerator, which housed the one most-valued treasure that we had brought with us: the 2-pound block of aged cheddar. Soon enough it was only a pound and a half...

Our first day in Niamey was spent at the National Hospital where we went to meet many of the women J had gotten to know when she translated for the fistula project in April. The women, with no better place to go, have taken up residence in the courtyards of the hospital. They make a meager living off of the beaded bracelets that they sell for 500CFA, about a dollar. Many of them are waiting for surgery; some are there to support a relative. They sleep on brightly colored straw mats laid out on the ground; many of them have small children. They all had smiles to offer. We bought lots and lots of bracelets.

Trying to decide what to buy.

A stunning young woman, waiting for us to make up our minds.

This woman is hoping for fistula surgery. She is from Agadez; she makes beautiful leather-and-bead necklaces.

The woman from Agadez was accompanied by this older woman. The two of them had grown tired of spending their days in the crowded courtyard, and had moved to the shade of a tree down the street. There was a breeze there, and it was quieter.

Well, it WAS quiet, until we attracted the attention of this fellow on his amazing bicycle; what a piece of work!

Thanks to John for taking all photos in this post. Don't forget: if you click on the photos, you'll see them a lot better.


  1. I should think the guy on the bike would fit right in here in Eugene.

  2. He would be perfect in Eugene. Perfect.

  3. The face of the older woman with the tattoos is mesmerizing and beautiful. That is just an excellent photograph.

  4. Thanks Barry! I'll pass that along to John. I also think it's a super photo. I thought about putting a watermark on it so it can't be "stolen" but those always ruin the look of the picture.

  5. First time visiting your blog, great work, I got here from Jessica's letters. My nephew is a new PCV trainee, and I have been following all the 2011 crew. I love all the pictures, they are great. I remember a special about the fistula clinic, and how the women come from miles and miles, and walk up to 10 days to get there in hopes of having the surgery. What great work, Jessica and everyone involved are doing.

    Will pop in regularly to see what is new here, thanks again for the great pictures, I spotted my nephew in the one with J talking to the new crew.

  6. Hey, cool! I was hoping that someone would recognize the back of a dear one's head in that photo! Good for you.


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