There is a couple that I know who lost their son in a tragic accident this past year. In honor of him they donated money for a well to be built in Niger. After it was completed they received a picture of the sign by the well (the sign is above). The couple is coming to visit some people here next week and want to see the well also. The sign says it is in Bounbounga, Makalondi. Hmm... Now those of you who know me well know that I am extremely directionally challenged. As such, I have not ventured to much out of my village thus far. But I want to make sure this couple can visit the well, so I found someone to take me out to the well - hoping that I could remember well enough to get back to it.
So the *adventure* begins... In typical Gourma fashion I put on my sweet striped polo with a totally clashing wrap skirt and we set out at 10am on bicycles (ah yes because i have no moto at the moment - see the next blog). Well as it turns out, there are 2 Bounboungas. So of course - we set out for the farthest one first and then can loop around to the closer one if we need to. Excellent :-) Now I must say - that I am not exactly in “bike riding shape” so much anymore, but I figure, it can’t be too bad.. and i have no other options :-) So we take the road out of town weaving around herds of cows right up to the “bridge”. Bridge’s here are special, they go down instead of up. So when there is water, instead of going over it - you must go through it. For example:
Well - today’s bridge was filled with about knee deep water - not too bad, my trusty bike made it through no problem (other my my poor wet skirt). But at least as long as the skirt was wet it clung to me rather than trying to fly away for a little while :-) We continue on for quite a ways, until we see a little bike path and veer off the road into the bush to begin the long loop back toward Makalondi. I try to take note of which “bridge” the turn was off of. Ok so far. Well we begin winding, through the millet fields, through - the bush :-) Ha. I am sure I could not even get myself back to the road after a while. Besides not having a clue where we are - there is absolutely no way that a car could come anywhere near where we were. Hmm... :-)
After a while the path splits into 3 - so my guide says wait here and I’ll check them - well it didn’t take but 2 minutes - all three lead us to a water hole. Excellent. Well nowhere to go but through - so we hop off the bikes and begin walking in the gross who knows what’s in it mud and water. It was almost waist deep. Excellent. Well my skirt had already dried off anyway from the last water :-) My flip-flop thought that it would be an excellent time to break as well. Sweet. Once on the other side, I try to kick off some of the mud and repair my shoe enough to keep riding. Awesome. Thanks to the incredible heat however, my skirt dried rather quickly :-)
A couple more short stops in some villages - where all the men, women, and children had to come stare :-) But of course everyone is really friendly out here and a smile with my couple of Gourmantche words go a long way :-) After an hour and a half of riding around through the bush - we arrive at the well. Awesome. Then I think to myself now - to find a way for a car to get here. So I talk with the local school director to ask where a better path would be for a car, and he happily says to use the road by the school and points us that way. So far so good. My guide says its just straight on this road to Makalondi. Wow I think - could it really be that easy!? :-)
Well, partway down that path we split off from the “road”. I think hmm this is not a path for cars - ahh but it’s much faster I am informed by my guide. At this point we have been riding for about 2 hours and its at least 120* outside. I think to myself - ok let’s take the faster path (I am already sure that I will be unable to walk tomorrow :-) I figure that I can get my motorcycle next week and retrace back to where we left the path and then follow the car path so that I know where to begin from Makalondi. :-)