Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Scenes from Africa: Giraffes

On Wednesday we went giraffe-hunting. Not to shoot them, mind you--that would be illegal. And sad. There is reportedly only one herd left in that part of the Sahel, about 500 giraffes hanging around the edge of Niamey. There are giraffe guides who keep track of where they are and will take you to them for the right price. You hire one of these guys to ride on top of your car and when he wants you to turn (which may, but probably won't, be onto an actual dirt path), he hits your windshield with a stick to indicate which way to go. 4Wheel drive vehicles only need apply. Becca, Matt, Chad, and I felt that the guide had a visual advantage, and Dave saw no reason to interfere.

When we got to where the guide knew the giraffes to be, we piled out of the vehicles as quietly as we could and walked the rest of the way to the giraffes. They seemed gentle, but would walk away if they sensed you were getting too close.

Scenes from Africa: Dust

It is dusty. I know they said it would be dusty, but I was not prepared for this. I guess you do get used to it. The sand is not granular like beach sand; it is powdery, like vaccuum cleaner dust. It hangs in the air like the humidity that isn't. When we got off the plane I first thought it must be smoke hanging the the air. But it's dust, and it never goes away. It settles on everything, inside and out, coats your floor, your furniture, your eyeglasses, the clothes drying on the line (people here don't have electric dryers). Today the desert breeses are blowing, raising the dust even worse than usual. The sky appears cloudy, but there is no rain in the forecast until at least June. I expected a blue sky, what with no humidity and all, but the sky is as dull at white as the Michiana "permacloud."

The Untimely Death of Sir Hubert

Dear friends and family of Sir Hubert the Stuffed Doggie,

We regret to inform you that the Honorable Sir Hubert has met his demise in an unfortunate case of disembowelment. Authorities are investigating to see if any of his due process rights were violated in the events leading up to his death. Please specify where you would like his remains to be sent as they are identified and gathered.

Becca and Carissa

P.S. We think the cat may have found his tail under the refrigerator.