Tuesday, February 28, 2012
Written by: Jody Fox
The other day I took a trip to a village called Ayorou, which is northwest of my village. Although this is not my village, it is a village nonetheless and is much further outside the capital city, so my adventure in this village I thought would count as adventure in village life.
We went to Ayorou with a short term missions team that was visiting from the states. One thing many teams do when they come to Ayorou is go on a site-seeing tour to see hippos. The Niger River has many hippos living in it. Many times the hippos seem to stay up or down stream from villages because they don’t like the people. And hippos spend the days mostly in water and come out at night to eat grass when we are all asleep.
On these hippo adventures, which I had not been on up to this point, you usually see the hippos from a distance, but only their heads are visible. This makes the trip fun to some degree, but in a zoo you could get a more up close look at a hippo. However, the day I went we were blessed to see hippos unlike most people get to see hippos.
We set out in our little 30 foot long 7 foot wide dugout boat with a small motor that was hardly the size to help our boat escape if a hippo decided to attack. We made our way around an island on the Niger River and what we saw next in the distance is a group of hippos that have made their way out of the water and onto a small island. Pretty amazing I thought and I would love to see them up close, but certainly we’re not going to get any closer. Well to my surprise (and horror) I was wrong –for our boat driver decides that we are going to drive right past this island.
Now lets keep in mind a few facts about hippos. First, hippos are the 3rd largest land animal, they are herbivores, meaning they eat grass, but they are irritable and protective and have been known to attack people. What I have heard is that hippos are the second most deadly animal in Africa (without looking it up on the internet can you guess the most deadliest, post your answers in the comment section). Hippos are also surprisingly fast swimmers, check out the YouTube video “hippo chasing boat” for proof of this. Needless to say I am way out of my comfort zone, in fact I am terrified, yet doing my best to conceal my fear.
While passing by the island about 50 yards from the hippos, one of them decides to enter the water. Our translator informs us at this moment that this hippo is one of the male hippos who is entering the water to control us and keep us from coming up the other side of the island. Well in my thinking, if we’re close enough for a hippo to enter the water because he feels the need to control us then we are way too close! In fact, I think the hippos should not even know we’re there, maybe I’m just odd though and don’t enjoy a good adventure. I’m wondering if the Africans in the village across from the hippos are thinking “you stupid Americans, what are you doing?”
At any rate I am scared stupid, way out of my comfort zone and wishing I was on dry ground instead of the slowly moving boat that has now turned up stream and is fighting the current of the Niger River. Eventually all the hippos both young and old enter the water thankfully on the other side of the small island and we chugged away leaving the hippos behind us. But as we chug away I can’t help but think that if this little motor were to go out right here, the current would likely push us down river right into the middle of these enormous creatures.
By the grace of God we arrived back on shore, where everybody seemed perfectly fine and happy to have seen hippos and I was left wondering how much danger were we really in. Well, at this point, I’m happy to never go see hippos again. Maybe someday, somebody will talk me into getting on that boat, but for the time being I’m happy to be on dry ground and not a victim of an angry hippo attack.
If anyone comes and visits though, I would be happy to find you a boat driver to take you on your own hippo adventure…but you go at your own risk.
Notice how BIG that one on the left is!
How'd you like to live in that village in the background???
Sunday, February 5, 2012
It’s interesting what you do for fun in a village. There are no McDonalds play places, although you can buy African 'fast' food when you're out and about. However, most of this I would not recommend. There are no playgrounds with slides or swings or parks to go and throw a frisbee. However, I did see children using small pieces of plastic to slide down a rocky hill. This looked painful and maybe even dangerous, but the kids seemed to be enjoying themselves. And each night the young men play soccer in the market area which is a big sand pit and stirs up quite a bit of dust, but this hardly counts as a park. And there is no Dairy Queen for a nice ice cream surprise.
Instead we are forced to find fun and leisure in other ways. Let me give you a few examples. One afternoon on a walk to the river we came across some young boys riding donkeys. The boys allowed Jordan to go for a ride on the back of one of the donkeys with daddy’s help of course. On other days the girls enjoy looking for tadpoles in the Niger River, which is the second biggest river in Africa and in which we live a short 5 minute walk from. The girls have attempted to raise these tadpole into frogs, but so far every one has died somewhere in the process.
We found out that in a village a jump rope can be loads of fun. If you break this out with a bunch of kids, fun is sure to errupt. Even some of the adults get into the action with the jump rope.
For the adults we find other hobbies to keep us entertained. For me (Jody) I have taken up planting a garden. I know this seems very un Jody like, but for some reason watching something grow each day that you had a hand in planting and preparing seems fun. And walking around the market on Wednesdays is always an adventure at the time. Finally, to close the day Sarah and I look forward to sitting down with a little Jack Bauer (TV series 24) before bed, which sometimes makes your mind wander as you lay in bed.
I’m sure that hardly any of you read our list of joys and think wow, so cool, I wish I was playing with a jump rope, or riding a donkey or even catching tadpoles in a river. In fact if you did, I’m sure you could find places in America to do all these things. However, for some reason doing them here, in this place, as a family brings us joy.
The other day I took a walk to the top of a small hill on the edge of our village that seems to be the highest point in Boubon, our village, and that overlooks the mighty Niger River. The view was absolutely amazing as the river darted around islands and stretched in both directions for miles. When I think about standing there and taking in this scene, a scene that a picture doesn’t do justice to, I think "Wow, I’m blessed to see and experience this village."
Jordan riding a donkey
Not the top of the hill I wrote about, but this hill is near by.