I have gone silent since my departure from the US 10 days ago. This is the lengthy process of getting here. Three days from LA to Niamey. Preparing things in Niamey and then in Agadez. Authorizations need to be gotten to go into the bush. The local staff needs briefing about the mission and I have arrived with enough solar material to start larger scale fabrication of panels. The solar students have been called to come today so I will be going to the office for the first meeting and the turning over the management of the manufacture to them. We will of course provide oversight.
The logistics of getting the volunteers, Bob Skankey and his wife Louine and Linda Lamb from Niamey to Agadez always proves challenging–about 40 emails and phone calls have flown back and forth to accomplish this. The simplest of tasks here takes on grand implications. For instance we have been authorized to take a special UN humanitarian flight from Niamey to Agadez, but just learned that they more than doubled their prices. This is a jolt, but ok since we really don’t want the UN flight program to shut down which would prevent us from going at all since we are not authorized to drive without an escort–this would involve two extra vehicles plus 20 armed men in addition to our own–at a totally prohibitive cost not to mention the 14 hours of horrendous roads. But with the new austerity of the UN flight they are refusing to accept overweight. We are allowed 15 kilos and must pay $2 per kilo overweight. So I paid $120 and decided since there will be twice as many bags of medicines arriving with Dr. Skankey, his wife Louine and Linda Lamb, we needed to find another solution. So we will have the driver who picks them up take them to the bus. So the bus decides not to take unaccompanied baggage until our secretary calls a friend and calls in a favor, but we have to be sure our customs list and exoneration papers are well visible so they will not be confiscated by customs en route. This is after they have been cleared at the airport–not sure why internal transport is a problem except that being a customs agent is a poorly paid salary, but a very lucrative job based on “negotiations”
So then we have to get the volunteers from the airport, but there is no one taxi that can take all three plus 6-8 bags so we have to get two taxis, but no taxi’s know Sue Rosenfelds house where they are staying. So you may ask why don’t you just give the address or gps –yeah dream on. My address in Agadez is a post office box. NO ADDRESSES HERE! So we have to find a friend that can do it who has a big car and will be in town. Eureka we found one. So keep your fingers crossed everything goes as planned which is highly unlikely.