In West Africa with Catholic Relief Services

Took this photo with my phone from the car on our way to the Homeland Hotel from the airport in Niamey, Niger. (J.D. Long-Garcia/CATHOLIC SUN)

Last night’s dinner, in many ways, helped me appreciate that I was in Africa. The group we’re traveling with, John Feister of St. Anthony Messenger and Ambria Hammel are the two other journalists, sat down in a jetlag stupor for dinner at our hotel in Niamey, Niger. We ordered, and then we waited. And waited.

The waiter then asked us — we were seven — if we’d like all our meals together or separate. We’d have it separately. So, with around 10 minutes in between dishes, they began to bring them out, one by one.

I was the last to receive my dinner, which was an on-the-bone chicken curry with rice. I suppose that the mini-fast before my dinner may have helped, but the chicken was superb. As I ate the chicken, I noticed how little meat was on it. I confess, my first thought was, “Really? After an hour an a half, they stiff me on the chicken.” But shortly after I regained my wits (hey, I was hungry), I realized the chicken was relatively light because it was just a skinny chicken. Chickens probably aren’t as robust as they are in the United States — not so pumped full of growth hormone, etc. This chicken could have been raised in someone’s backyard.

Everyone is very kind, with the exception of the mosquitos. And folks here speak French, so I’ve been practicing. Today, after this cup of instant coffee, we’re going to Doutchi to visit a PROSAN, a Food for Peace project. We’re traveling with Kim Pozniak, Helen Blakesley Michael Hill and Edward Hoyt from CRS. They’re all terrific.