Horns honking, bright lights, and greetings in French. Living in the capital is much different than living in a village. I work on a computer everyday. I have to dodge traffic as I cross the street (paved streets, I might add). Mind you, some things are the same: children yelling "anasara," or "white person," and women selling fari masa, donut-like sweets, and rice and beans on the streets. But the nightsky has become a bit of a disappointment, and I am no longer greeted by people that know me. No more "Ina kwana, Baraka?" as I step outside my door in the fresh still morning.
There are very few familiar faces. At times, the city feels lonely and cold. Yet, the breath of vitality and pace stir up inside of me a zest for my work and my life. Since coming only a week ago, I have been to several concerts. I have danced with a traveling African dance troop. I have met interesting people such as an Australian photojournalist who has traveled the world and opened a restuarant in Niamey. I have eaten a croque-monsieur at a Lebanese-owned sandwich shop. I bought a pair of jeans at the grand-marche for only two dollars. Obviously, life is different. I am getting to taste a new flavor of Niger, figuratively and quite literally.
I've realized how within a country, there are so many cultures, layers of society, and often when we travel, we only get to see one layer, and even then there's more to it. Even in America, I have never lived in a rural area. I have no concept of everyday life for farmers in Northeastern Colorado.
So, here it is. A chance to see it all. Now, in my third location since starting Peace Corps, I can once again compare/contrast the nuances of the cultural layers. From Tama, a socially conservative, isolated village to Guecheme, a more developed community rooted deeply in animism, and now, Niamey, where I am trying to learn some Zarma (spoken more in this region than Hausa) and settling down once again amidst the hustle and bustle.