Friday, March 16, 2007

Vacation Paradise

Dear Indigna,

Wasn't Joseph Wilson's trip to Niger, where he claimed to debunk the fact that Iraq tried to buy uranium there, just a junket? His wife probably gave the trip to him for their anniversary or something. What a waste of taxpayer money! We coulda spent that money on MREs or body bags or something.

Armchair General
War, WV

Dear General,

Yes, a Niger vacation would be an excellent gift. Few travel destinations are more coveted than this West African nation. Roughly twice the size of Texas, it boasts a bountiful landscape of sand, some of it flat and some of it in rolling, blowing, creeping dune form. And unlike some of its neighbors (and they know who they are) it is not currently roiling with violence--in fact, it hasn't experienced a military coup in something like eight years!

Niger is a sun-worshipper's dream because it boasts some of the highest temperatures and lowest levels of rainfall on earth--perfect for burnishing that summer glow. Be careful not to stroke out! If you visit between September and March you might even enjoy a dip in the Niger River, since it often has water in it then. When you're done "swimming" or, as the locals call it, "mucking about," you can visit the capital's museum and zoo, also known as "the home of sad animals."

Although Niger has the highest infant mortality rate in the world (about 25% before age 5 ), that's okay because it also has one of the highest fertility rates in the world too, with nearly 8 births per woman. And since only 70,000 of its people are salaried workers while the other 12.5 million are subsistence farmers on the 11% of the country that is arable, you can bet yer law-of-supply-and-demand that there are some whopping good bargains to be had in the marketplace! Since the average age of the citizenry is around 16 and life expectancy is less than 44 years, you're unlikely to encounter crowds of adults at your hotels and nightclubs, and you'll have plenty of privacy during your vacation since less than 18% of the population is literate--simply write notes for secure and convenient communications, especially if for some reason you cannot locate one of the country's 24,000 landline telephones. You can hardly expect a lot of traffic jams on Niger's whopping 3600 km of paved roadways, and imagine the thrill of a lifetime that you will experience if your plane lands at a destination that does not happen to boast one of the three paved runways capable of handling an international flight!

The capital of Niger, Niamey, offers at least five hotels, and you can see photos of the spectacular accomodations here, here, and here. The incredibly exciting menu at the Grand Hotel du Niger's restaurant apparently offers not only salad but also chicken, mutton, and an exotic delicacy described by one reviewer as "some other meat dish which I did not dare ask about, but it tasted OK." I can't imagine a more romantic and enticing destination!

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