Lots of pics of my day in Niamey, so I’m going to split this day into two parts to make it a bit easier to read. Slept in a bit this morning, and definitely needed it. I felt like I’d hit the ground running when I landed in Benin several days prior and hadn’t let up until now. Plus, the room was nice and cool and dark so pretty easy to sleep.
Made my way down to the hotel breakfast, and there wasn’t much there except a few baguettes, a jar of store-brand hazelnut spread (aka imitation Nutella) and some instant coffee. It was pretty sad, but I was starving and it was only 3,000 CFA (around $6.50) so I went for it. Plus, it would allow me to wake up in the safe confines of the hotel while coming up with a plan to tackle my day.
The strategy was to find a driver who I could hire for the entire day who would take me to the sites I had read about online, as well as show me some things I might not consider. After breakfast, I headed out into the courtyard area of the hotel to hang around and see who approached me. Didn’t take long until one of the guys sitting around under the trees asked if I was looking for a taxi. First strategy “sure, how much would it cost to take me to the museum?” “Hmmm, 10,000 CFA” “That’s pretty steep – let’s say we do that and make it the whole morning, how much then?” “20,000 CFA” You see where this game was going. Finally, I asked him a price for “3 hours in the morning” then “2-3 hours in the afternoon after lunch” and finally take me to dinner, wait, and bring me back. “30,000 CFA.” I knew $65 was a fortune for a day’s work in Niger, but considering I was trusting this guy with perhaps my one and only time ever in Niger it would be worth it.
He seemed very happy with the deal, and was very anxious. He didn’t speak a word of English, but was very easy to understand in French, and I feel like even if I overpaid I got some great French and cultural lessons out of it too. Told him first thing I wanted to see was the Niger River. So off we went. The car even had AC, and he had no problem turning it on. It wasn’t very powerful, but just enough to turn unpleasant, dirty, dusty, smoggy air into mostly clean indoor air. I’ll take it!
First stop was the “Pont Neuf” or “Pont Chinois” – the “new bridge” or “Chinese Bridge.” Built by the Chinese just a few years ago, this was the second bridge in Niamey over the river. Until this, all traffic was on one narrow old bridge. Not exactly a picturesque river:
Not a bad bridge though…
The mud on the banks of the river give you an idea just now nasty and brown it was.