Nigerien Coolers

(Photo Credit: Dad) Traditionally, Nigeriens use a large, ceramic jar called a “Kanari” for storing water. These hand-painted jars keep well water cool. A round, woven mat balanced across the jar’s opening keeps out bugs and lizards. In some homes, you will see a kanari or two half-buried in the ground for insulation. The ownersContinue reading “Nigerien Coolers”

Boubon Market

(Photo Credit: Dad) Boubon, a small village on the banks of the Niger River, comes to life every Wednesday as peddlers and customers come together under the shade of woven mat canopies. People arrive in shallow wooden boats, called pirogues, which are piled with sacks of grain, plastic buckets, pumpkins, and cages full of guineaContinue reading “Boubon Market”

Grasshoppers for Dinner

Niger is full of grasshoppers. My friend’s son enjoys catching them just to show he can. Some villagers outside of Niamey gather the insects in the early morning when the grasshoppers can’t move too quickly. At home, they boil them, dry them in the sun, and then bring them to Niamey’s Katako market. Sautéed grasshopperContinue reading “Grasshoppers for Dinner”

Salt Caravan

While driving east out of Agadez one November day, we came across some Tuareg traders setting out on their annual trek across the Sahara to the small town of Fachi. A small handful of men undertake the arduous 29 day journey with camel herds reaching into the hundreds. Loaded on the backs of the camelsContinue reading “Salt Caravan”

The Edge of the Tenere

I will never forget sleeping under a desert sky full of crystalline stars. As I lay on my blanket arranged on the sand, the only sound I heard was an occasional breath of wind. The vastness of the empty space made me feel incredibly small. The silence amplified the size of the Earth and theContinue reading “The Edge of the Tenere”

Tuareg Dating

At the annual Cure Salée in July, the Tuareg and Wodaabe gather at In-Gall near Agadez for a month of camel racing and speed dating before the nomadic groups splinter off again into the dusty expanses of the Sahara and Sahel. One evening, the Tuareg gathered for the “dating wheel” in an empty expanse nearContinue reading “Tuareg Dating”

Land Nomads

Traveling near Agadez in July brings you across many caravans of people moving their cattle, sheep, goat, and camel herds across the greening desert. The herders take advantage of the shallow lakes produced by the seasonal rains that fall from April to August. Both people and animals congregate around the watering holes to quench theirContinue reading “Land Nomads”

River Nomads

As our narrow pirogue slipped through the Niger River, I looked out across the calm water reflecting the rosy hue of the evening sky. In the distance, four large pirogues glided silently towards us. Unlike our open passenger boat, these ones were piled high with sacks, buckets, goats, chickens, and one even had a motorcycleContinue reading “River Nomads”