Reub's journey

31 August 2009

Starry night

Photo by John Bliss

Foloa, Niger, is very dry this year. I think about this as I lay awake, perspiring, in the wee hours of the morning, looking up through the mosquito net at the inky sky. The full moon has begun to set and it seems that I can see every star in the Milky Way. It is the most beautiful night sky, the constellation of Scorpio has never stood out so brilliantly, and because it is August the meteor showers punctuate the heavens with sudden streaks of moving light. I am lucky to be here, lucky to see this clear, dark, bejeweled sky.

And yet Foloa is not lucky. It is the middle of rainy season; the sky should be filled with huge clouds, swept with powerful winds, split violently by lightning bolts, and the rain should fall in torrents during the August night. It rained the day before we arrived in Faloa, a storm just like that. But for the 10 nights we are here, every storm goes to the north or to the south, teasing us with a few drops, or stinging our faces with blowing sand. The crops look worse with each passing day.

For Foloa, the clear night sky is a curse. Every bright star is a stab of disappointment, a reminder that it is dry. What will happen if the crops fail? What will the animals drink? Everything is thirsty.

And now, weeks afterward and far away, I have heard that it is still dry in Foloa. The full moon rises again this week; I pray that nobody in Foloa will see it, that the storms will fill the sky with rain. I hope the glittering sky is covered for days.


  1. IT RAINED!!!! Yesterday (Sunday August 31) at 2pm we finally got our rain. If you could have only been here to see all of our smiling, relieved faces... two solid hours of steady rain, and then a comfortably, cool night of sleeping to boot. So, Barkanmu, barkanmu da ruwan alheri! (congratulations to all of us for the kindness of rain!)

  2. Foloa got rain. Foloa got rain. Foloa got rain. About the time I started writing this.

  3. Hello Kelly,

    Thanks for visiting. You seem to have had as wonderful experience visiting your daughter. Your post is very descriptive; wonderfully generous people with an unforgiving climate! I'm glad I didn't have to endure that heat. Great to hear that they have now had some precious rain!

  4. I'm relieved Foloa finally got some rain. That's great news.

    Lets hope that two hours wasn't all they'll get.

  5. Beautifully written post....and wonderful news about the rain!

  6. We spoke w/J. this morning. It has rained three times this week. Enough for a harvest. I feel as though I prayed, and it came true. Is it just a coincidence? I don't know, but I know what it feels like.


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