Saturday, February 21, 2009

My New Normal

As I live here in Niger, I have found myself adapting to my environment more and more each day. Things that I once considered different and exciting, are now a daily occurrence and just "normal". However, they're things that are very different from what I was previously used to and believe my new normal would now be considered as different or maybe even "weird" to all of my friends and family back home. So I have decided to share a list with you all of things that I experience on a daily basis. I hope you enjoy it :)

-Sharing the road with donkeys and camels
-Dodging goats on the road
-Driving on very bumpy dirt roads to get to a friend's house
-Greeting everyone I see with "Bonjour" or "Bonsoir" and a smile :)
-Not being able to buy produce at a store, but at a stand
-Having to wash my produce with bleach water before eating any of it
-Only drinking water that comes from a filter
-Brushing my teeth with filtered water
-Pushing a button on top of the toilet to flush
-Manually igniting my gas stove and oven with a stick match
-Limited access to regular TV (no complaints)
-Watching movies on my laptop with earphones
-Making calls home through my laptop
-Refrigerate fruit so that they don't ripe too quickly
-Go to a bakery to get FRESH croissants and baggets :)
-Icecream costs $9.00 per quart!!
-It is 100 degrees F in February and I don't need to use an air conditioner
-My feet are caked with sand and sweat by the end of the day and feel so refreshed after being washed
-Houses are surrounded by walls and have guards in front of the gate
-Livestock "grazing" in trash dumps
-Lizards everywhere!!
-No baggies with zips, they must be tied off
-Items at grocery store are mostly in foreign languages
-People carrying rolled up rugs and buckets of doughnuts and other items on their heads
-Guys selling phone cards at stop lights
-If I want yogurt, I make it myself
-I hang my clothes out to dry, and then they dry in like 30 minutes
-On a roundabout, the cars/bikes/motorcycles coming in have the right away
-You don't pulled over for speeding, but for not using your blinker
-Taxis are everywhere and drive slow and are unpredictable so I often pass them up
-It's okay to dance in church
-Church services are performed in at least 2 different languages
-It's okay to cross lines on a major road to pass someone up
-Dust so think in the air that you can look at the sun without hurting your eyes
-Call to worship and drive by groups of men kneeling to pray (actually not a norm, still hard to see)
-Plugs have two round prongs and the outlets are circlular
-Mosquito repellant is my new perfume
-Pay as you go cell phones
-Mango juice is my new favorite drink :)
-Sodas are in glass bottles with caps, after I finish I save the bottle to return
-Tailors are readily available to make outfits, out of material bought at a market, into any pattern I like
-During the day I open my door to a melody of different birds singing

There are many more, but I think this is all I will share for now. I hope you have enjoyed a taste of my new life here in Niamey:)

Monday, February 2, 2009

Sahel Academy

The first week of school students were able to eat lunch outside in between the cafeteria and the High School building.

This is the building where the teachers lounge and French room are found.

This is the cafeteria, aka auditorium, aka sanctuary, whatever you need it to be, that's what it is :)

This is the elementary building. My room can be found on the other side of the second and third doors :) It has been explained that the sidewalks are our outdoor "hallways" :)