If it’s Wednesday, it must be Lariam

[Lariam, of course, is the malaria-prevention pill we take every Wednesday (starting a week before Mali, and ending four weeks after Benin).  It doesn’t seem to have had much side effects this time — maybe a little less sleep.  No wild dreams, though.]

We’re in Niamey, Niger, and I’m having the best Internet experience I’ve had in awhile — fast connection, $1/hour, US keyboard, right next to the hotel.  It may be the last for two weeks — Agadez, the jumping-off point into the desert probably is as well connected as, say, Timbuktu.

Yesterday we drove down to the village of Tiebele in Burkina Faso near the Ghana border.  Villages in the area are made up of little family compounds, each with a handful of two-room buildings housing a couple.  Many of them have distinctive paintings on the outside.  As we toured one, the lady of the house had just ground a bunch of peanuts into delicious-smelling peanut butter.

Back in Ouagadougou, we went to the Musee de la Musique.  After touring a series of small dusty rooms with ancient instruments that couldn’t be touched or heard, we were led into an auditorium where a live band performed on many of the instruments we’d seen.  It really put Santa Cruz drum circles to shame — these guys were great.  As well as drums, there were xylophones, flutes, and guitar-like instruments.

Our guide took us to his favorite street cook, who served us manioc paste, gumbo sauce, fish, and mutton.  It was delicious, and dinner for the four of us set us back $5.  Then we went to a club to hear more great drumming, including the flute player from earlier in the afternoon.

We’re basically done touring — now it’s really just transportation with the guide and driver.  Still, it’s only six or seven hours a day of driving, and staying at nice hotels.  On Sunday we’ll leave Agadez on a 13-day camping trip to see the Air mountains, the Tenere desert, and if all goes well, the eclipse.  The trip so far has been hot, and will only get hotter, but it beats the snow in Paris.