Our last weekend was busy but enjoyable. Camille had horseback riding and then brought over 4 friends for a sleep-over until the next afternoon and the only reason her party ended was because they had - you got it- more horseback riding! Dina and I were invited to our Nigerien friends' house for lunch and then the DCM's for a very nice dinner with a few other embassy colleagues. The African food was so good, only to be followed by a sit down cous-cous. I discreetly loosened my belt to the last hole. We arranged for Stefan to be dropped off at the Marine House to watch, "Horton Hears A Who," so everyone was happy.
On Saturday, Dina made blueberry pancakes for the slumbering slumber partiers who each kissed me on each cheek and loved the pancakes so much that they asked for more! Leopold came and made them burgers and fries plus a mango fruit salad for a late lunch. Dina and I touted around Niamey running a few errands and enjoying the sights as we found them. Then dropping the girls off back at the equestrian club and checking our emails before going to another dinner party to welcome the new School Director of the American International School. It was very nice. The host made escargot and everyone brought a variety of dishes to share; none the least was true romance.
Sunday was down time. A day of liesure. But we did manage to get do visit the people we sponsored who took two of our kittens so we could see them one last time. They are more bulk than Mignon (their brother). Maybe it's that American Fancy Feast they feed them? As opposed to our Nigerien Lizard Gizzard. But they were fun to watch and we all went to watch the sun go down and have brochettes one last time at the Grande Hotel.
Monday escaped me. Dina closed down her office only after firing off her final Sahel-O newsletter. Tuesday was also a blurr. We made a trip to Wadatta to shop for Toureg jewelry. I took Camille and her friend Marielle to the equestrian club one last time to say goodbye to her favorite horses. She fed them carrots and I watched her pet them and whisper, "remember me" in their ears. On the drive back she said, "I didn't realize I would miss Niger so much!" But that is what this place does to you: it attaches itself to your back where it seeps into your soul so that you don't see it. But you feel it and it becomes a part of you.
I watched them walk away as they entered the airport. I called Murielle who manages the restaurant upstairs to let her know they were departing. She came down and somehow got me in. More hugs with tears in our eyes. Once they got through the x-ray Murielle invited me upstairs to the restaurant where we could see the entire plane sitting on the tarmak. She made me a gin & tonic (a double) and I watched them board the aircraft. Once it started scooting towards the runway, we left. And as I drove out onto the road towards Niamey, it took off and flew right over us. Goodbye my dear family. Be safe.