Spin That Globe! – Destination, Niger

I am excited to introduce my new travel game – Spin That Globe!

Not only have I created this new game for our amusement, but it gave me an excuse to order my very own globe from Amazon (I’ve been wanting one for years). Yay!

Spin That Globe! only has one rule:  no peeking. I close my eyes, spin the globe, and wherever my finger falls is where our imaginary trip will be. The only way we’ll get another spin is if we land in the middle of an ocean with no discernible tiny island nearby that we can call our destination.

Our first trip is definitely taking me out of my comfort zone and, presumably, yours as well. The flying finger landed smack dab in the middle of the African country of Niger. Since no part of Africa has ever been on my bucket list of travel destinations, this is unquestionably an interesting first choice for our game.

There's Niger - hot spot smack in the middle of Northwest Africa

There’s Niger – hot spot smack in the middle of Northwest Africa

Niger, which is pronounced something like knee-ZSHARE, is one of the poorest and hottest countries in Africa or, for that matter, the world. Given my penchant for room service over roughing it, this trip will surely be a challenge.

I also do not like to be hot. Not at all. And since this is a mostly Muslim country, it also will be necessary to cover up very modestly. I’m thinking underwear and a burka may be the garment of choice. At least packing can be light for a change.

These native Wodaabe women are gorgeous - love the outfits

These native Wodaabe women are gorgeous – love the outfits

Traveling to the capital city of Niamey takes about 19 hours from Cleveland. I will book the Air France option that goes from Cleveland to Minneapolis, to Paris, to Niamey. Just to get there will cost $2,000+ for the ticket, and then there are the fees for visas and shots to protect me from scary diseases. This is a lot to pay, in my book, for a trip to someplace most people probably don’t want to visit.

It would cost a little less to visit my son in Brisbane, Australia, though the travel time might be slightly longer. Hmm. Brisbane or Niger?

Oh, that’s right. We are playing Spin That Globe!, so Niger it is.

What will we do there?

To be frank, the tourist options are limited. At the top of the list I found online was to go on a hippo-spotting cruise on the Niger River. I am hoping that the cruise directors make it very clear that actual hippopotami are nothing like the cute cartoon characters we naive Americans tend to associate with this animal. Have you ever played the board game, “Hungry, Hungry Hippo?” You know the marbles you flip into the hippo’s open mouth? Imagine your skull being that marble in real life. Yeah. You don’t mess with a real hippo. I also hope those boats are really big, and really fast. And I hope they serve cocktails on the cruise, but that’s another story.

Scary hungry, hungry hippos

Scary hungry, hungry hippos

The next most exciting tourist attraction is visiting the Agadez Grand Mosque in the northern market town of Agadez. Other noteworthy sites there are the Kaocen Palace, which is now a hotel, and the Agadez Sultan’s Palace. Although Agadez is a market town, I should mention that it is best known for its camel market. Not exactly a souvenir suitable for the den back home. You might find some silver and leather work, too. I could work with that. Probably no t-shirts with the mosque on the front, though.

The Agadez mosque was first built in the early 1500's

The Agadez mosque was first built in the early 1500’s

I always find it hard to pass up the creamy gelato, scones slathered with jam and cream or the warm, flaky strudel in the countries I’m most likely to visit. So I have to say that one plus to visiting Niger is that it should be a great spot to kick-start a diet and exercise program. The typical African cuisine offers highly spiced grilled meats, vegetables and salads. Carbs are usually sorghum, cassava, maize or beans. On special occasions you might get rice or couscous.

Between passing on the cassava paste and sweating in my burka, I think I might drop a few pounds on this vacation. Score one for the fat girl visiting a starving African nation.

Does this sound like I am picking on Niger? I guess I am. When my finger landed there, I thought, why not? I had absolutely no knowledge of this country. It could have been amazing, right?

But I’m afraid that at first glance, I feel about Niger the way many people in the U.S. feel about my own hometown of Cleveland. Or maybe Davenport, Iowa. Or Ogden, Utah. It’s there. It has some things going on. But when it comes to choosing it as my vacation destination? Not so much. I mean no offense to the Niger people (they can’t be Nigerians because Nigerians come from Nigeria, right? I mean, what the – ?)

I’m just saying that Niger and Cleveland and Davenport and Ogden and all kinds of places might have a lot going for them, but when asked where they want to go on vacation, people are not going to choose those places first. Right?

Would you like to learn more about Niger? Google it, babe. Good luck!. See you next week, and join me again one day soon for another trip (hopefully to someplace we actually want to visit) on Spin That Globe!

About katemahar

Freelance writer and event planner by trade . . . mother/daughter/sister/friend . . . passionate traveler . . . compulsive reader
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2 Responses to Spin That Globe! – Destination, Niger

  1. Margaret says:

    Sadly, there are probably going to be no cocktails in a Muslim country. Sorry Think I might wait to see what is next week’s destination before I book. Margaret

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