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Getting There in Style

This past week I got to do something I haven't done in years.... fly in one of our mission's small planes.  The last time I flew I was sick with shingles.  We were supposed to be going down to Nigeria for a vacation, which would be very good for getting the rest and time to heal that I needed.  The problem was getting there.  I wasn't sure I could take the two-day road trip with my back rubbing against the seat of our pick-up truck bouncing over rough roads.  So it turns out I was able to fly in the plane as far as Maradi and then we drove the rest of the way, so I only had one day of misery instead of two.  That must have been 2003.  Here's a picture of me when I had shingles....I'm not sure why somebody (shall remain unnamed here) took a picture of me when I was sick, but this picture only shows half the misery I felt.  Anyway, I digress.

Thankfully, this time when I flew SIMAIR, I felt great.  I was nominated to be on a committee and it was decided for everybody to meet half-way.  So three others and myself flew from Niamey to Galmi (it turns out with the fuel-efficient planes we have, it's not much more expensive to fly than to charge full mileage on a vehicle and takes up a lot less time!  Plus, it minimizes the need for an overnight stay in a guest house which would be a further expense.).  We were able to come and go in one day as it is a 1.5 hour trip by air whereas it is at least eight hours by road.

Our planes are all small four-seater Cessna 180's outfitted with diesel engines. 

They can carry three passengers plus the pilot.

We took off about an hour after sunrise, so the sun was still low in the sky.

It was interesting to watch the landscape below.  Flying out from Niamey, there was pretty much nothing down below, not even villages. 


Notice the little village backed up against the hill near the center of the picture.  I saw quite a few villages backed up against these mesas and wondered why.

As we got closer to Galmi things started looking a bit greener (green is a relative term when you're in Niger!) and we saw more villages. 

We were also closer to the main road so it would only be natural to have more villages near the road that connects one end of the country with the other.  

I never did get a shot of the Hospital compound since I was always on the wrong side of the plane, but here is one of the town.

  Our meeting went well.  We had lunch there, then the guys I was with had another meeting and we came home, arriving just before sunset. 
Taken just before take-off in Galmi.  Notice the fence to keep animals off the air strip.

By the way, our days are shorter now, but we are close enough to the equator that our shortest days and our longest days only vary by about an hour.  So all year long we have 11-13 hours of sunshine.  If you have Seasonal Affective Disorder, come join us in Niger!