The trip back to Niamey was supposed to be a cruisy flight of just 2 hours but again plans changed. The plane was not able to get to us in Maradi due to the weather so after waiting 4 hours for a final decision to be made we realised we had to go by road. I was prepared for anything but a plane ride would have been nicer!!!!
We are so thankful for the Nicholson family (kiwis) who were travelling to Niamey that day. We hitched a ride with them and set off. The first part of the trip was to Galmi where we rested the night in the guest house run by still more kiwis. That meant 3 hours had been done and we slept well that evening. Unfortunately the morning came round too soon and at 5 AM we piled into the cars again and began the marathon drive to the capital. Many had spoken of how bad the roads were but I'm not sure I believed them until we got onto them:-)
We had divided ourselves on gender lines....the boys in the HiLux and the girls in the Toyota sedan. Many a time we were lured into a false sense of security as we whizzed along tar sealed roads only to find huge pot holes in the middle of the roads. And when I say huge I mean HUMUNGOUS!!!! There were times when I was sure our wee car would be swallowed whole by the gaping caverns. The boys just flew over them all but Frouke took her time and took great care of the car. Many a time the tar seal disappeared and we were left to drive through thick, red, slushy sand also with huge holes. We liked it when the boys were ahead of us as we could see the holes and work our way around them but often they would hoon off and forget us girls. We travelled on detours of detours as roads were wiped out due to flooding. We sat, trapped by two big trucks as they tried to fight each other for the little passing space that there was. We drove through ditches that had been filled with tree branches to stop you getting totally stuck and then we met up with a huge traffic jam where trucks had spun off the road and caused a back up that would last for hours. All the time I was fearful that we wouldn't make it in time to catch our flight this morning but God was good and kept us and our vehicles safe. We snuck onto a new road that had been closed off by trees and bulldozers but that wasn't going to stop ingenious kiwis from going where they needed to. We just drove off road, round them all!
Twice we had toilet stops. I hate public loos but couldn't hold on any longer. The first was my first ever squat pit loo complete with horrible smells that made me gag and millions of mosquitoes buzzing in the nether regions. The second was a millet farm where I squatted behind a tall plant hoping no one could see me from the road. Little did I know but a Nigerien was riding behind me on his horse and got a full view of my little white behind! You've just gotta laugh!!!!
Nine hours later we arrived into Niamey totally exhausted but thankful for the Lord's protection and mercy. My African experience was complete. With 3 more days travel ahead of me I am tired but really excited to be heading home to NZ and my boys. I have missed them terribly so am looking forward to lots of snuggles and kisses. This afternoon we fly into London and then I will hit the sack again before my marathon 26 hour flight back to Auckland tomorrow. Nige leaves me and heads for the USA but he will be home again in just 10 days. I'm really looking forward to hanging out as a family again.
I have so much to tell the boys of my adventures. More than I could possibly write. It has been a thrill to see how the Lord has been using kiwis just like me in Niger.I do miss being on the field, at the core of missions work but then again it was such a joy to see kiwis thriving in difficult places. I'm glad I can go back and send some more.
PS...I was told to look out for giraffes as we travelled yesterday but despite 9 hours of looking I never saw one. How disappointing. Nevertheless I found this one so thought I'd pop him in here :-)