Sunday, October 8, 2000
Kim’s Birthday!! Oh, boy, I get to spend it on airplanes taking me away from home. We fly to Montreal, and connect to Paris, France. Uneventful flight – meals are OK, movies are OK.
Monday, October 9, 2000
Arrive in Paris – for 3 hours!! We do not leave the airport. We grab a quick snack/breakfast at a café in the terminal (oooh, good French pastries!), browse through the duty-free and wait in a non-smoking area where people are smoking!!
We then fly off to Niamey, Niger, West Africa. We shuffle into our seats and watch the other passengers go by – many colorful costumes, odd hand baggage – we expect to see a goat boarding and taking a seat.
We arrive in Niamey on schedule (note the burned out Air Afrique aircraft near the runway) and are whisked through security and customs by the staff of Etruscan Mining (the company Andrew is doing a couple of stories on) – it’s nice to have connections!! We are then seated in a special air-conditioned room where Coke ("coka") is provided to all us VIPs while we wait for our luggage. Well, after ½ hour we realize that my one bag and one of Andrew’s bags are not coming!! My bag had all my clothes, toiletries, and 3 boxes of film and Andrew’s bag had the other 2 boxes of film and ALL the batteries for the camera that we were planning on using for the week. GREAT!!
We rush off to a local version of a "Wal-mart" so I can pick up a few things until my luggage arrives.
We check into the "best" hotel in town, which seems OK at first glance. Our first night in Africa – during the short ride from the airport we have seen people carrying all sorts of things on their heads, camels and sheep on the main roads, and lots of beggars. We are given a driver by the mining company (the person changes throughout the week, but the vehicle is the same) who, thankfully, knows his way around town.
Tuesday, October 10, 2000
Somehow my luggage has made it to Casablanca in Morocco, says Air France - the big problem is that Air France flies in once a week (last night), Air Moroc flies in once a week (tonight), and Air Afrique flies in once a week (Thursday). The highlights of the day include an interview with the Canadian diplomat for Niger (we don’t have an embassy there, just a top official) and he decides to throw a party for us and Dr. John Savage (one of our traveling companions), the former premier of Nova Scotia.
We then head out to the airport in hopes that Air Moroc will come through with my luggage – but they don’t. They next flight in from civilization is on Thursday night.(p)
Wednesday, October 11, 2000
Today we drive around the streets attempting to get some footage the limited tape and batteries we have left – we visit the Musee Nationale du Niger – not a museum in the North American sense of the word, with paintings and other art. This museum is a "living museum" – we pay to see people living within the confines of the museum, which also includes a small zoo, artisans making their artisan things, and people following us through the museum begging us to purchase their goods. I become very excited by the baby lion – a little too excited and I go too close – enough to upset mommy lion.
This evening we go to a nearby hotel to take sunset pictures of the Kennedy Bridge (the only bridge over the only river in the country) – it’s actually very pretty – and we see great numbers of extremely large bats.