The bus we left on at 7 was a masterpiece of metal and motor held together by sheer willpower! Every time the driver shifted gears it sounded like he used a hammer!
Bus was actually quite comfortable even w/ bench seats since we had more leg room and at least 3 windows were lacking so plenty of breeze(later we would regret this). We got on right away to "grab" our seats and then watched the landscape crawl by...green bush/trees and evidence of lots of crops(dried stalks & stubs). They use the stalks for fencing, etc. Further we went the fewer villages and most became round huts w/ cone thatched roofs. We stopped maybe 5 times to do something to engine but seemed to be making good time until mid afternoon when we hit BIG potholes and sand in them. They hauled off the tread ramps and proceeded to dig and set ramps. This was a routine we were to repeat several times that day which involved getting off bus as well(25+kids=3 to 4). We arrived in Diffa at 9:30, got our bags off, bought omellete sandwiches, and talked w/ 2 or 3 English speakers who strongly advised "yes, you might get a taxi lvg tomor at 6 but better to continue on bus to Nguimui to get transport into Chad"!
We decided it would be better on bus since we saw the condition of bush taxi/minibuses...not good! Mari was bummed big time since this was not the "plan" and no real sleep nite before.!! Since we had off loaded and waited til last minute to go onward, the bags had to go inside bus(where people + stuff got piled on top). They said it would be overnite travel but since we lost our "good" seats we had to make do with whatever was left...aisle & back bench! Bus drove about one hour and stopped...I heard them say "sand" and this is where we spent the nite...on the bus in our seats! It got cold, VERY cold. By morning I was disoriented and freezing, actually shivering uncontrollably. At about 4 am I noticed a fire outside bus so I got out, but the fire was surrounded by 3 to 4 guys sleeping and it was very small, no heat for moa! Being aware of hypothermia and recognizing these symptoms I began walking to work up some body heat, up and down the street, staggering at first.
After about half and hour I was now quite conscious of warmth & went back into the bus. It turns out Bon & Mari suffered similar symptoms. Ironic that we were freezing in a desert and only a few feet away were our warm clothes but inaccessible.
Jan 22 I got up at 1st light and wow, found a public, newly constructed squat pot hole to do my daily "thing"! At 7 am the bus moved out and w/ in half an hour we were stuck again, this time the story all day long...deep into potholes and sand, all out then in, and out and in...we walked almost as much as we rode, it was as if we had hired the bus to carry our packs! Arriving in Nguimui at the SNTV bus stop(actually just a spot on the "street" designated bus parking), our plans had gone before us and several fellows who spoke English asked us about our travel into Chad. At last a fellow spoke to us about changing $$ and getting stamped out of Niger. We also spoke to the cohort of the bus driver who offered a room for free to stay in right in front of the bus "station". We arranged w/ a friend of this fellow(chief of town??), for transport to go all the way to N'Djamena(Chad capital) for only 100,000CFA, distance of 650+km! This was almost too good to be true but we got it in writing so....After getting our passports stamped we returned only to find another fellow anxious to get our business going to N'Djamena. We were insistant on having already made a deal which we felt satisfied with. He was very insistant, wanting us to go with him and stay in his home but we held firm. He was supposedly the main tourist guy in Nguimui but reeked of alcohol breath! We went out in the dark being "helped" by several very insistant "guides" to get water & food supplies...not much available and what was was expensive. Hit the hay early since we were told the 'bus' might be leaving at 5.