...and you live on the backside of the desert?
You introduce your visitors to the fascinating red velvet mites... they only come out during Niger's rainy season. It should have been a warning...
Then you head to one of the mango camps by the river, planning on boat rides to see the hippos followed by a picnic
First boat ride takes off as planned... very tippy but relatively unleaky pirogue.
Saw some herons...
Road through some class 2 rapids (surprised, I was...)
And found hippos,
7 of them.
Two enormous mamas with three day old babies.
Wasn't too sure about who was more preoccupied with watching who.
Looking at the clouds and the wind picking up, it seemed prudent to start heading back towards the rest of our group, waiting for their turn and enjoying the tire swings at the mango camp.
I'd recently read a story about how the Niger River totally changes personality when a storm blows up and you are caught on the river. It is so true... the waves were looking pretty big from where we were sitting, in the boat. Thankfully, we were almost back to camp.
Everyone ended up totally soaked and we decided to head back to town for our picnic lunch... wondering if we were going to be able to drive through some of the washouts with the rain coming down like it was.
We did... and stopped for a few photo ops once we were back up on the plateau.
After our picnic lunch, we decided to head SW out of town and see if we could find the giraffes.
There's a camel... getting close, since the Zarma word for giraffe is "camel of the bush."
Look!!! We found one. A solitary pregnant female. Our guide said she was due to give birth any time... when their time draws near they leave the herd and head towards the place where they were born.
What's any adventure without a flat tire.
Tim worked on the tire. We tried to chat with some passers-by... in Zarma... with only minimal success.
While working on the tire, our guide ran back and climbed a tree to see if he could locate the herd. He did!
Truly beautiful, truly amazing animals.
A few more camels for good measure...
... including one who didn't want his photo taken.
Heading back into the city...
...to clean up and take the big kids out to dinner at one of Niamey's best restaurants.
The next morning, Tim and those who didn't get to see hippos went back out to the river, hoping for a second try.
It was a beautiful day!
They found the hippos, too. In fact, they were hanging out in the very spot where our boat sat and watched them the day before.
But the hippos were a bit more forward this time, actually approaching the boat...
...so the boatmen pulled up to an island and had everyone get out... where they watched and waited from the safety of land.
See the hippo moving closer?
Finally, time to head back... and head into town to see the markets, look for souvenirs...
...drove past men praying...
and finally made it to the "Musée!"
Saw lots of animals, dinosaur skeletons...
and a hippo show, up close and personal!
Two very busy days - and we've been able to share many of the amazing pieces in this incredible life God has called us to lead.
Thanks to Pastor David Warren and Julie Shangraw for sharing their photos.