Friday, January 29, 2010

I forgot a picture!

Fred was kind enough to remind me I forgot to post one of our funnest shots!

At night after the kids were all sleeping we sat around the fire. I had brought out 2 packs of sparklers to use for Ophelia’s birthday cake, but we had only used one up with the kids. So the adults got them out to play!

We had fun writing in the sky and seeing our work on my camera.

This is done with a manual, very long shutter speed.

Here we are celebrating “PARC W” ! Not bad if i do say so myself! Keep in mind this was done with one single sparkler!

For those camera buffs out there:

Exposure: 24 seconds

F 11, AP 4.0

ISO 640

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Parc W Wildlife Reserve

This past weekend we had a chance to go on a wonderful get-a-way with a few friends. After several very long and full work weeks, we needed a little bit of R ‘n R and this was the perfect chance! Our friends (A French family and a Belge couple) were going to Parc W National Reserve Park for the weekend and invited us to come along and we jumped at the chance! Bennett and Arielle were really excited because their two little friends Callista and Ophelia were going to be there with us.

The CAMPGROUND

This campground is located within the park itself and along the Niger River (which you can see in the background). You rent a tent unit that comes with beds and mosquito nets, and we also got the deal that included an light breakfast and supper in the evening, so we only had to worry about our lunches. What a great idea!

This place has tables and chairs, good bathrooms, swing set for the kids and they even make you a big fire at night to sit around!

Frederic enjoying getting a push from Bennett

The inside of our tent (had 5 beds)

If you want to take the boat to get here, you can!

Sunset at camp. It was soo beautiful and peaceful!

And of course the roads. We did a lot of driving in those three days and they were mostly all on dirt roads. Some of the roads were smooth and shaded by thick trees, others were rutted with huge holes and harsh sun beating down on the truck. But all the roads were peaceful and it was beautiful just to be outside of town in NATURE! Not even once did an animal ask for money, or bang on our car, we didn’t see a single motorcycle cut us off, or policeman pull us over for a bribe. No one came to our window selling vegetables, batiks or leather goods. It was good times folks…good times!!

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The FUN

I know you can’t tell here, but we packed 11 people into a Toyota Prado! We only had one guide, so the days we drove around the park we all shared one vehicle. It was tight, but a lot of fun!! (From left to right it is Agnieska, Fred, Callista, Paul, Chantelle, Arielle and Briac – hidden are Bennett, Ophelia, Odile and the Guide Yakouba)

A beautiful shady spot under the trees with a gourmet lunch thanks to Briac!

Arielle checking out the animals in style

Great new friends having a great time. It was so much fun for us too as parents (meaning Paul and I ) to hear Bennett and Arielle speaking French all weekend with their little friends!

Bennett is the King of the Hill!

 

The ANIMALS

The Elephants

For me, this weekend was all about the Elephants. I have loved elephants my whole life. And let me tell you, they did not disappoint! We feel lucky in that sometimes the elephants are anti-social and visitors don’t get to see them at all. We got to see them twice! In fact, our first evening there, they even set up a roadblock and we had to wait 20 minutes while watching them! Sadly the light was fading rapidly for good pictures, but what majestic animals!

The roadblock:

The next day, we saw them hiding behind the trees very close to the same spot as the night before. I took a ton of photos of them behind the trees, but so badly wanted them to come out in the open!!

And then there was a gap in the trees, and they all turned, and came RIGHT AT US.

HOW AMAZING. HOW AWESOME. HOW BEAUTIFUL AND HUGE THEY WERE…AND A LITTLE BIT SCARY THAT CLOSE!

And in the end, all they wanted to do was cross the road!

Crocodiles

Thankfully we didn’t get too close to any of these creatures, but we did see lots of them! Here is one crossing the river beside us

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And no less than 7 of them on the shore sunning themselves! A bit hard to see them so i added the frames to help you!

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Baboons

Baboons are a little bit mean i think. They are aggressive and stay in a pack. Paul and I and the kids were walking and they saw some of these monkeys. They were a good 50 feet away  and they were making a lot of noise. They were making aggressive movements towards us, and some of them were circling around us to flank us. A little un-nerving to say the least…so we kept walking in the other direction! Over the two days we saw quite a few monkeys – vervets, baboons and red monkeys.

(They are a little bit hard to see so I circled the 5 of them in red)

Antelope

We saw lots of antelope this weekend. Probably 30 or more? They didn’t seem scared of our slow moving vehicle and kept eating the grass and meandering around.

Deer

Even though we have Deer in Canada too, it was still nice to see them again!

The way home

At the end of the weekend on our way home, we attempted to go get a geocache. There was one left on this road that we hadn't tried before. The light was fading fast and we were in the fields and trying to follow donkey cart tracks etc. haha. We didn't have enough light to get out and find it in the end, but while the men scoped out the terrain I had fun playing with a group of women and children who gathered around us. Such fun! And now our group has planned another adventure afternoon to go back and find it!

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Many thanks to our friends here for planning such a great weekend. I have to say that was the best weekend we have had in a long time and completely stress free, exactly what we needed!!

And for those of you visiting Niger, if you have the time and funds, don’t forget to try and visit Parc W !!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Giraffes, Giraffes and more Giraffes

Last week we had an opportunity to go the Giraffe Reserve Park about an hour outside of Niamey. Last time we went was December of 2008, so i was due for a return trip! As always, the animals did not disappoint! These are all mostly un-edited shots since I am running short of time, but enjoy a little insight into these spectacular creatures!

How many giraffes can you see in this picture? (Answer at bottom of the post!)

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Giraffes01_3  A giraffe taking a nap so peacefully

My friend Kari, who is also an avid photographer. We were like kids in a candy store with our gear and giraffes!

 

 

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I think he thought he was camoflage behind this tree… 

   

Taking a few last shots as they start to head off in another direction.Giraffes05_13

And finally they slowly move off into the distance. What an amazing day!

And the answer to the question at the beginning- 8 giraffes in that one photo! The largest grouping we came across was 20 giraffes.

Monday, January 18, 2010

New friends

Since I am still working away on my big project, I thought I would send you two little pictures of the day. This is my new friend. I cannot pronounce her name! Quite often when I go to visit Miriama every Tuesday for the morning, this young woman is there. She is the new (and much younger) wife of Miriama’s uncle. Divorce and remarrying is quite common in the Tuaregs, and the men usually go for younger women. She has a 3 year old son Moustapha who is very cute.

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This is one of the children who was at Miriama’s house when I arrived. It was 9:00 am and already it was around 30 degrees Celsius (88 Fahrenheit-ish) He is wearing a wool sweater, snow pants and a toque!!

 

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Friday, January 15, 2010

Sand….

Just a quick note today so you see I am still here!

I am in the midst of working on a big project proposal and will hopefully have exciting news to share with you in the weeks to come. Please pray for stamina to get it researched, put together, budgeted and funded!!

And now for the picture of the week :) And you thought YOUR house was dusty! While not quite this bad, my house constantly has dirt and sand in it. Even with a house cleaner it needs daily cleaning to keep the sand at bay! We do live on the edge of the desert and during winter season the Harmattan winds blow dust and sand through every crack and right into the house and everywhere. I just hope my house never gets to this state, although it just might if i was to go away for a month and let it build up! So while most of you are cleaning slushy snow from your front door, I am dealing with this!

 

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* Photo courtesy of Andy Biggs