Everyone has a travel horror story. If you get a chance, ask Alex or David about their flight woes: mechanical problems, a missed connection, an unanticipated night in a New York hotel, and the frustration of losing a day of an adventure that was only ten days long to begin with! Thankfully they arrived, in very good spirits and with big smiles on their faces, twenty-four hours later than Kara and Coleen, who had spent their unexpected leisure time trying to figure out the phone/internet connections, having lunch at the American Center, and shopping for essentials like bottled water.
The pilots that were hired to fly the group from Niamey to Maradi were very gracious about rescheduling our flights for Saturday, and Pilot Mark was at our door, chipper and in uniform, at 6:30 am on Saturday to drive us and our ten suitcases and assorted carry-on luggage to the airport. The two and a half hour flight by Cessna was a much more efficient way to travel than driving the rutted two-lane road for twelve hours. We were warmly greeted by our friends in Maradi: Ibrahim (EERN Education Director), Isti (Principal of the Tsibiri Boarding School), and Daouda and Yaoucaba, members of the EERN Education Committee.
It was truly a pleasure to drive out to the boarding school today and see all the amazing progress that has been made! The students were having a little free time before lunch – all but one group of newer students who were taking a supplementary remedial computer class. They all stood up respectfully when our group entered the lab, but it was obvious they were eager to get back to their keyboards.
We had a great tour of the school garden. Established in 2012, it is well laid out with plots of all kinds of vegetables, and a clever irrigation system connected to the well ensured that everything was thriving. We saw corn, sorghum, onions, millet, potatoes, carrots, lettuce, cabbage, manioc, papaya, and even some sweet-smelling limes about the size of ping pong balls. Isti explained the whole irrigation system, the pumps, and the “chateau d’eau.” This French expression for water tower translates literally as “water castle.” It didn’t look like any water tower you’ve seen in the states, but it worked, and its purpose is surely more beautiful than that of any chateau you will see in the Loire Valley!
Our friends and partners here thank us at every turn for all that Remember Niger has done for them. For our part, we are all truly grateful for the warm and gracious welcome they have shown us!