Not far from the French school (where the French Ambassador's daughter is in my daughter's fifth grade) take a turn and you will find yourself in the middle of a village. The property's owner is the country of Germany, they aren't using it, but it explains the name of the village: Casa Allemande. This little village school sits in the center of the Niger's capital city, Niamey.
One of my favorite things about Niamey: it's not a culture convincing me that I need the perfect cardigan from Brora, the Juno soundtrack, a chair from Anthropologie, an iphone, Jon Fluvogs, a new bag from Coach, and a $50 diptique candle from France to give me just the little boost I need to truly become fully myself. None of the stuff you can buy here is paraded through the New York Times or on any website or even at a bus stop kiosk. Everything worth buying here is handmade by someone, and you have to go out and search for it. In the case of the soapstone carvers, they have a little spot on a corner where they sit on the ground and work. The soapstone work is lovely and most people leave here with at least one piece.
If you wait long enough, someone will come by with whatever you need: shoe shine, matches, ice cream cones, sewing repairs, tea or coffee made while you wait and snacks. Snacks are carried on a tray on someone's head, and they often carry a little table in their hand to set the tray on when you stop them. This way you can pick up a banana, a carrot, sugar cane is popular, soloni, (yogurt drink in a bag, kids love it), a small bag of nuts, many items I can't figure out, for example, what is the gum arabic for? But here is the coconut guy, stopped in front of our house.
When you are sitting outside in the evening you will see many bats take to the sky at dusk, swirling around, hopefully eating mosquitos. They spend the day here, in a long row of trees, right in downtown Niamey. (See a more close up photo at my place2place blog.)