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???