|The Journey from Niger to Benin seemed easy enough, especially as one of the drivers who met the bus from Niamey, the capital of Niger, at Gaya (near the Niger/Benin border)
said he was going all the way to Cotonou.
There was no way his gleaming Peugeot would make it in the time he
stated, but as my fare would complete the carload, I enrolled myself for the ride.
Once the boot was loaded
with an assortment of luggage, there followed a voluble argument. The driver had his
passengers secured, but they were not prepared to meet his inflationary price. So the rate
Most of the
other bus-passengers from Niamey had already dispersed, yet we stalled again.
that our driver could not take us across the border, but he had a friend who was licensed
to do so. Our bags would stay in the Cotonou-bound car while we were to momentarily use
the other vehicle.
from Porto Novo was understandably frustrated at the thought of loosing sight of her bag,
protested for a moment, and then sighed, re-wrapped her blue and yellow skirt around her
waist, and transferred her rather large person to the horrendously battered Peugeot.
. . . . .
The well-travelled exporter from Niamey caused a stir at the Niger passport control when he refused to show a vaccination
card because he was leaving the country.
wanted to keep the exporter's passport; the exporter said he had no right; the immigration
man called the exporter into his office to show him about rights; and the cocky little
exporter told the immigration man to take off his badge and gun, and to step outside to
see about rights.
The whole situation
became a little tense.....
More officials stepped in. I was asked for my
vaccination card and politely showed it; although I was inclined to agree with the
exporter. There was a smile from behind the counter, and my passport was duly stamped and
returned.... The exporter's passport was still on the desk; other border-crossers were
Exporter stood stony faced; one soldier sat on
a concrete balcony and listened to his little short-wave radio; another peeled an orange;
and I looked across the river to Benin. The exporter was a passenger in our car, and I
wished for the matter to be determined swiftly.
The driver with our luggage was allowed through.
Then there was just our car's contingent of passengers,
and the young girl selling oranges.
The officials were again disinterested.
The exporter seemed
prepared to leave his passport behind when, out of the blue, the immigration man removed
his gun belt and badge.
The khaki figure appeared
on the verandah stairs, and I expected dust to rise like the entrance of the bulls into a
Pamplona ring on a hot day in July.....
But he rode off on his moped!