public bits from my letters in niger

peace corps niger

in January 2001 I boarded a plane from JFK to Paris Charles de Gaulle on way to Niamey, Niger. I went with 56 other young Americans, clinging to the dream of making the world a better place while we fought off anxiety, uncertainty, and nausea (from the barrage of shots earlier that day and our first doses of mefloquin(Larium)).

that first leg of our long trip was hellish...I have only the vaguest memories of trying to sleep on the hard floor in the smoke filled terminal after my first transatlantic flight. The first night after our landing in Niamey, where we were met by the heavenly smiling American faces of PC/Niger's financial admin and a tech trainer, was otherworldly in more ways than can be expressed. The smell of burning garbage on the way to the training site, the smiles and willing hands of host country nationals (later to be our language trainers), mosquito nets and a night so bright (and surprisingly cold) I could not sleep under the Sahelian full moon.

all I could do those first days was live with my eyes open. I tried to do that for two years, and came away different, more myself than I had been - forever tied to a place 1/4 of the way around the world, and newly aware of luck, injustice, generosity, humor, and the vibrancy of life.

i hope that the photos it look while there capture some of what I saw and learned and loved.