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January 18, 2008

Semera to Digdiga: Welcome to Your New Home

From the camera and from the journal:

[Lunch stop.]

[Blackmarket petrol: Last available.]

[Traditional Afari hut.]

Our convoy today increased once we left pavement from our four Toyota Land Cruisers with the scientists, police guards (w/ AK47s), a local administrator (Abdu—not the crazy one), a local geologist (Osman), and, of course, drivers, to include the addition of a water truck (lorry loaded w/ 2 liter water bottles) and a pick-up loaded with petrol and a large tent. Most of the route today was dirt track, mostly dry with only one ‘stream’ crossing that could have been dicey, but we all made it through.

Saw a bunch of interesting birds—large grouse-like ground birds (francolins), large black-and-white birds our driver referred to as eagles, a medium-small iridescent turquoise bird, and a large turquoise-and-white bird with a long tail. I didn’t see the dik-diks (miniature deer) that others saw, but there were two foxes not too far from the road, and no shortage of goats and ‘sheep’ (Tim calls them geep because they seem like a cross between a goat and a sheep) and cattle (with biiiig, full horns) and camels.

I have a watch mark already from the sun, from yesterday. I was wearing long sleeves and a hat so I didn’t put sun block on. Some of it washed off in the shower, but not all of it.

Brown day. Clouds.

On the road to Digdiga: Brown, black, rubbly.

We’ve just arrived at our base camp in Digdiga, from where we’ll do the work—brilliant. A camp, which means room to move, open space, fresh air, and I won’t be in a car all day every day like last time besides, because some work will be by helicopter. Lovely. This could be quite a nice month after all.

[Welcoming committee.]

[Our new home.]

The town officials told us we could crash out in the school complex for the night since we arrived pretty late, and we'll figure out what to do longer term tomorrow.

Dinner tonight was tuna on bread—I imagine once camp is established we’ll be eating something slightly more elaborate—and now we’re sitting around a candle chatting.

Tim: “Is there anyone in the bathroom?”
John: “Bathroom’s probably not the right word but there’s a shack over there that’s got no one in it.”

Charlotte is reading the Bible. John is delivering shots of whiskey. It’s about 9 PM. Bedtime, all gridded out on a tarp, 3 x 3, with John and Tim in cots alongside. 74.5 degrees F. Someone in the compound is singing along enthusiastically to a radio. My lips taste like DEET. The drivers' sleeping quarters are a step above ours—to protect against the wind, they’ve formed a blockade with their cars and set up their foam mattresses side by side between the cars and the wall of the schoolhouse. Their conversation sounds a lot more interesting than ours too—lots of big laughter. We’re pretty mellow.

It’s really quite lovely out: Cool enough to sleep in a sleeping bag straightaway! A nice breeze, temperature-wise, but it also picks up some sand. We’ve been told that it will probably be windy tonight.

I hear voices echoing from inside the school where some people are sleeping and there is an occasional child’s voice from off in the village, and that’s it. The moon is over half full, and is waxing, and provides a decent amount of light. It’s Talfan’s first time sleeping out under the stars.

Posted by beth at January 18, 2008 2:25 AM

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