One of the things I have come to love about Africans is their resourcefulness. Currently I have a beautiful purse, much commented on, made out of a plastic mat. A friend of mine has a computer bag beautifully crafted entirely out of plastic ice cream bags sewn together and, I must mention, it is lined- with recycled water bags! I can’t wait to buy one! In Niger, I have seen items I would have thrown away recycled and reused in unimaginable ways! Large milk powder cans store books where termites can’t intrude. No vehicle, no problem! Mattresses can be carried on a bicycle, as can your goat, or even your family of three. Plastic bags turn into many, many things: woven into a wallet perhaps, or serving as the ever present patch for any pipe that is leaking. This trait is never more obvious to me than in rainy season.
Niger rains are not usually a slow, steady drizzle or an overcast day with heavy mists now and again. The rains here come with a vengeance. It pours cats and dogs (or would raining camels and goats perhaps be a more fitting phrase?). Everything becomes drenched in minutes. Streets flood up to your knees, (drainage is largely disregarded due to the complete lack of need for it 8-9 months of the year). It is largely understood that if rain comes, all appointments are off. Someone is not expected to come to work until after the rain has passed. But what are you to do if you are caught in it? In particular, what is a man on a moped to do? (Mopeds and bicycles being the most common form of transportation.) I’ve seen lots of men on motos recently with suit pant legs rolled up, or better yet, dress shoe enclosed feet on top of the body of the motorcycle and plastic bags tied on their heads… The goats tied on top of a van become common place, but whenever it rains, I remember … creativity and resourcefulness know no bounds!! Viva the plastic bag! :)