We don’t see Tombouctou on this trip. The river, during rainy season, flows about a kilometer south of the town. We’re told that an American sailor who was captured and taken to Tombouctou, came back with stories of a mighty river in the desert that was so wide he couldn’t see the other side. Explorers who came later dismissed his tale as that of a mad black man. If they had traveled a bit beyond Tombouctou they too, would have seen the mighty Niger.
Our boat trip ends at Gao where we stay with the nuns. (see http://emandyves.wordpress.com/2011/06/26/kamsack/ ) before flying off to Niamey, the capital of Niger. The bits we see of the city look much like Bamako, but we don’t explore more as I am very ill. We find the local hospital where I’m diagnosed with malaria. My own fault as I haven’t been careful enough about taking my antimalarial pills. I’m given an injection and a bottle of pills. The remainder of our Niamey sojourn is spent in the hotel where I rest and my friend laments that she doesn’t get to pile the covers on me and then take them off as I battle bouts of chills and fever. I tell her that I’m quite happy my case is mild, roll over, and ignore her grumbling.
While dutifully taking my anti-malaria tablets, and trying to get comfortable on the lumpy bed with worn, but clean sheets, my friend is out organizing our transportation for the next leg of our trip–a long drive from Niamey, crossing the border into Dahomey (now called Benin), south through Kandi and Parakou to Cotonou.
To be continued