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January 27, 2008

Day "Off"

That said, the part about routine and co-locating sites and using the existing GPS sites and all, we'd already messed up by day 2. Chris dropped us off at our new site, I turned my handheld GPS on, got oriented, and told it to guide me to site DA10—to find that it was 4.65 km away. 4.65 km! 100 meters, fine, but 4650? What happened? That's too far to walk in the given time, and besides, there's no way our one set of guards can keep watch on instruments that are that far apart. The MT crew was perfectly happy with the site, so there was no motivation for them to move, and helicopter time—well, it's expensive. Like, it's *really* expensive. It's usually expensive, anywhere, but when you've contracted a helicopter to fly up from Kenya with its pilot and engineer to a remote field site in Ethiopia, it's even more expensive. Like, even a *lot* more expensive. Had I made a mistake inputing the GPS coordinates into my handheld? Sophie, what have you got? Same ones. There must have been a little something (one number is all it takes) lost in translation on the pilot's side of things—either he misunderstood Sophie's French accent, or there was a misunderstanding over the format the coordinates were in. Sigh.

I called Tim on the sat phone, and he said not to bother putting in a site—when would anyone ever be back here? GPS only gives results when we can measure a site at least twice—we don't care so much about where a mark *is*, we want to see how where it is *changes*--that is to say, how it moves. So that was that. At first I was frustrated, but then I realized I had the afternoon free. So I went off a bit to explore. And I wasn't even followed by a guard—it was just me. I tried to stay mostly within sight of the MT crew, just to be prudent, and because I wasn't sure when they'd be done. It was lovely.


[On the way in.]



[The MT group hard at work.]

Look for signs of life in these--seems middle of nowhere, but there are trails and rock structures at every turn.


[Looks like a lookout. Pretty good spot for one.]


[Mmmmm, lava.]

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[Always nice to fly over the rift.]


[Scale on the cliffs is at least a hundred feet, maybe several...]


[Note person in lower left.]

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From my tent, I can see the helicopter pilot and engineer projected onto the wall of their tent (palace) like it's a scene from a cartoon.

10 PM Have I mentioned how ridiculously dusty it is? It's really dusty. The wind is still blowing from the opposite direction—although I misjudged while brushing my teeth and spit toothpaste directly onto my foot—and bringing lots and lots of dust. Although the stars are still out. Earlier, they were more diffuse, and now they are a bit brighter.


[Example of the inside of my tent on a particularly dusty day. Every morning, I would zip up my sleeping bag and turn it over so as not to get dust inside, and every evening I would pull it out of my tent to shake it out before getting in.]

Posted by beth at January 27, 2008 11:38 PM

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