Thursday, March 29, 2012

Time to post again

It has been a while but that happens with a crazy schedule, tiredness and inconsistent internet. I have lot's of excuses it seems.

Our hope is to get back to regular postings.

I will start with a tale from our trip to Park W. A very interesting park that borders on three countries - Niger, Benin and Burkina Faso. The park is 150 km out of Niamey which makes it about 650 km's out of Galmi.

The park is known for it's wildlife. One of the most spectacular sights was seeing the gigantic African elephants by the Niger river. Adding to the excitement was seeing them while in a pirogue (boat).

At one point we were driving through the park when a herd of African Buffalo passed through. There was hundreds upon hundreds of these beasts. For the most part they just meandered on by. Some gave us a stare down but we never felt threatened.

At the beginning we stopped to see a monkey in the trees. We wanted to get out to take pictures but our guide firmly insisted we stay inside. Seems we are not allowed outside the vehicle. More on this later.

Another fun part was the warthogs. These guys were big. They also gave us a look but after just continued digging through the dry earth with their snouts.

Closer to the river we saw lots of baboons and other monkeys. Interesting to watch a monkey with a baby sitting by the river. Not far away a crocodile slowly drifted by.

We saw lots of monkeys and lots of varieties of antelope. One of the interesting characters was the Guine fowl (not sure of spelling) running all over the place. If I were to give a comparison they reminded me of the dodo birds in the movie Ice Age. Especially when one took it upon itself to charge our vehicle when we got too close.

Towards the end of the trip I (Orest) was bugging our guide about seeing Lions or other predators. He said that seeing them was by luck alone. On the last day our guide tried to find us some lions. He directed us off the road a ways and then we stopped at a remote location. Here it was that he told us to get out and follow him. As I was about to lock the vehicle door he told me not to in case we had to run back to the vehicle. After being momentarily stunned by his comment I slowly followed at the rear thinking I would be the obvious choice if a lion attacked, or if we had to run back to the vehicle would we make it back. When we told others about this afterwards, their comment was - "he had a gun, right" - nope, he did not. We actually had two stops like this.

We had an experienced guide who had 1 wife and 10 kids. He told us all about how hard it was to keep his family fed. Yes, we gave him an extra gift and a ride back to his village, since it was on the way.

At on point on our drive to the park we stopped to take a picture. As I (Orest) was taking the picture I saw a stream of children charging out of a village about a hundred yards away. I know there was at least 20 of them and they were coming right at me. My eyes just bulged when I saw the number and how quickly they recognized the white people and came a running. I mean it was only seconds. I know there was no danger but I could not handle the onslaught of begging that would occur. I jumped back in the vehicle, told Grace to just drive and not look back.

We had a great time and would definitely go again. By the way, the 150 km drive from Niamey to Park W takes at least 3 hours.

Blessings to all