Friday, February 03, 2006

A long trek Indeed

Back again. I have just completed two days of travel and I can tell you all that I`m a little bit hacked. Of course that may not surprise.
How can I describe the last two days?? Well I learnt one thing - time is a relative thing here in Africa, no-one seems to care about delays, the only time people move fast is actually on the road. I took the train to Parakou. It was no deluxe train, but it is the most comfortable transport I have had. It was due to leave at 8.30 AM, and left just after nine. Fine, not too bad. Half an hour of waiting is NOTHING. The coach was full of colour and frienly people chatting away the whole journey, yes it was quite fun. Outside remained green all the way; though there were lots of undergrowth fires for some reason. Controlled burning I believe.
People sold things at every little station, mostly off the top of their heads. However the scheduled arrival time of 5.25 was not met. We arrived just before 9PM, after scrambling some diary i tried to sleep.
The next day bang! up before 7, quick shower and at the share taxi station by 7.30AM. There was a taxi for Malanville at the ready. However it doesn't leave until it's full, which was around 10.30AM. I was told 4 hours. Five and a half later we are at Malanville, my right leg almost dead from cramp. The road was bad at first, but improved for the second half of the journey was much better, though I was the smallest of four in the back and was never comfortable.
At the border there were no problems, it was a pretty scene over a river, one border post at each end of the bridge. I was in Niger!! Tired and hungry but I had made it!
A moto took me to the taxi station there, a bus to the capital (mini bus) was waiting and half full!! I was sure we'd be away within the hour. More waiting ensued, three hours later we transfered to another mini bus, still at the same place and by 7PM we were on our way. Five minutes later we stopped for prayer. Ten minutes later on our way. Fifteen minutes later we stopped to help another minibus with a flat, ten minutes finally moving towards Niamey. All day I revised my expected arrival time. I left hopeful of 6PM, It kept getting later and later..
12.30 in the morning the next day We pulled into Niamey, I took a taxi to a hotel and fell asleep. Whats amazing is the way that almost noone gets annoyed at the constant delays, the police checks; people demanding to stop for food, the cows in the middle of the road, the hideous music... everyone seems to enjoy themselves. I was as tired as could be, but I accepted it... besides the frequent stops meant I could stretch my leg that was quite cramped....
Now I am in Niamey; already been to the Mali embassy where I will pick my visa up tomorrow. The weather is hot but dry which makes such a difference. The city is quite plesant, nicest so far with wide boulevards. Big place bit not so many people.... had a hamburger for lunch, my first proper meal since I left Cotonou....

No comments: