The very idea of spending our 46th wedding anniversary in Niger, Africa was probably the furthest thought from our minds when Dave and I got married in December, 1964. In fact, just getting through the ice and snow which fell on our wedding day, then driving to Gatlinburg for our honeymoon was a major challenge. I doubt that we even knew there WAS a Niger, West Africa. But……46 years later, here we are, spending our wedding anniversary with 40 other Peace Corps trainees, most of whom are in their 20’s, and we are loving it. True, we think of previous anniversary celebrations with family and friends or those we privately shared in special places. But this year, we are in Niger and our new “family” helped us to celebrate an event they only heard about and for the most part, have no way of understanding the significance of those 46 years we have shared.
How did we celebrate an anniversary in a foreign land where the life expectancy is 47 and a man may have 4 wives? How would he keep up with all of his anniversaries and make them special? How would multiple wives feel as their co-wife was the special one for the day? Dave and I did not have to worry about that! We just wanted to share the time with our newly made friends and Peace Corps colleagues. With the help of the Training Director at our site, we ordered a cake big enough to serve all trainees, Peace Corps staff and site employees. It was a HUGE cake, beautifully iced, banana flavored and COLD. Our cake was made by a restaurant in the Niger capital city where Peace Corps folks gravitate due to its excellent food, sodas, ice cream, pizza and beautiful desserts. It is also air conditioned and offers free Wi-fi. Such luxuries are all of these items, and our cake was too. Delivered especially at a time when refrigeration was available at our site, the party began when the amazing cake appeared. Chocolate icing, personal inscriptions, multiple layers of cake—what better way to celebrate. And we did party!! And so did our Niger Country Director and other staff who attended.
We gave ourselves a beautiful hand-made leather photo frame made by a local African ethnic group, the Taureg’s and the other older married couple presented us with a lovely round leather jewelry box made by the same African people. Memories are made of this…………………….and we danced to the voices of 20 year olds who were curious about whether we could actually dance! We’re old, you know!! But yes, we can dance! That impromptu performance has led to another trainee with teaching experience being asked to teach swing dance at a future training session.
Thinking this was THE celebration, we ended that day feeling great. Then the next day, our fellow trainees presented a program in our honor, spoofing our training objectives and inserting information about us into a group game( thanks to several inquisitive young people who found out lots of details about our life, family, backgrounds, etc)...all in fun and celebration of our 46th. Topping off this day was a card signed by all of our new friends, wishing us well and even wishing us “46 more “---I doubt that will happen!
Never give up on the youth of today nor should we think they are not approachable on an adult level. They are awesome and made us feel very special, even though we are old enough to be many of their grandparents. Cheers! to the Peace Corps Niger October 2010 trainees. They are the best.
Judy and Dave