Published: February 22nd 2008February 22nd 2008 February 21, 2008
Amadou, Chris, and Kamel
Standing on a quartz outcrop on the project.
Wow, what a day, it has been a full and exciting one! We had our usual breakfast, prepared to leave, then headed to the lawyers office on the way out of town. She is a neat lady, very dynamic. From there, we headed to our project at Koutouggou. Our route was the one bridge over the Niger River, south towards Burkina Faso.
The highway portion of our route was paved and in excellent shape. We followed this until the village of Torodi, where we turned between two buildings, into what looked like an alley, but actually the laterite road to the project. This laterite road was twisty, bumpy, and not sure how the driver could tell it was a road and not a track. Made for an interesting 1 ½ hours. We return tomorrow through Torodi, and tomorrow is market day there. The main highway will be packed with people, so getting through the couple of hundred of metres may take awhile!
On the trip, we could see the mango trees are in bloom. The fruit should be ready to eat in late March/early April. As well, watching the huts, they are now very dome
Ladies of the Village
Note the beautiful designs of the Agadez Crosses worn on their foreheads.
shaped roofs with a woven thatch siding, only the occasional brick sided wall building. As well, some of the huts are up on stilts. I would guess that these hold supplies, perhaps grains or grasses, so that the animals cannot get into the supplies. Another new feature, is a tall stilted platform, about 7-8 feet in the air, with grass/thatch on the top. At one place, saw camels eating off of one. We have seen a few more camels today, even a baby. Amadou has been telling us stories and facts about many things. About camels, he tells us a couple. Apparently, the milk of camel is suppose to be very good for you. It is medicinal as the camel eats many leaves of many trees, and those nutrients and such get into its milk. When you consume the milk, it will make you strong. The other fun fact, was about the training of camels. The female, once it has a baby, will forget all its training and will have to be re-trained, but the male, once it is trained, will always be trained.
There are lots of sheep and goats, with the most interesting sheep being black from
its mid to the head, and white for the back half. The sheep tend to be fairly tall and have long ears and tails. The cows all have that large hump on their back above their shoulders. The termite mounds are few, and looking like oversized mounds of dirt. Eventually, they become very large as we approach the project. Arrival at Camp
The drive down went well. We arrived in camp near 11:30 and we head to the field to take a look around. We see the geophysicist, his technician and their crew (quite big). We then checked a trench where the excavator is located. This takes a couple of hours, then we head back to camp for lunch. Lunch is a 3 course meal, salad, main course, and dessert (we eat very well in Africa, and my waistline will prove it!). Today, the main course is thin steak in sauce, pan fried potatoes and peas with carrots, dessert is pineapple in whipping cream. After lunch, there is a meeting with the important people from surrounding villages. There are about 10 elders from the local area, all men, attend this meeting. Chris says a few words, Amadou translates, and
At the Orpaillage Site
I am sitting down and Chris took the picture of myself and the young boys at the Orpaillage Site. When Chris showed them this picture, they laughed.
one or two make some responses, then they leave and shake our hands on the way out. It was very nice. More Field Work
Then, we are back into the bush to look at trenches. There is lots of interesting things to see, and I am amazed at how straight the trenches run. The geologist here, Kamel (hope I spelled it correctly), speaks some English, Chinese and Russian, in addition to French. He is a very nice man. Apparently, he began his studies in geology in Niger (he is from here), worked for a bit, then took a job in China, and did his Ph.D. there, hence his development of many languages. So, the 4 of us and our drivers spent the afternoon, going from trench to trench.
On the way back to camp, we stopped to see a baby camel. The village was quite small and there were mainly ladies there. After taking pictures of the camel, I was able to take a picture of the ladies. Many were wearing crosses of Agadez on their forehead (if I am able to upload the picture, take a close look at them). Goat for Dinner
Dinner, was the next interesting experience of the day. It was much later, and it was a feast. There were 8 of us for dinner, and the main course was a whole, barbecued goat. Well, discovered I do not like goat, so only had one bite. The tradition when eating such things, is to rip the meat off the carcass with your hands (there is a hand washing episode before the dinner begins). For Chris and I, they did cut off the meat and put it onto our plates. After the goat, there was another dish, rice with a tomatoey sauce and green beans, with dessert to follow. I didn’t eat much overall, I wasn’t hungry, probably as I was quite tired. Headed to bed as soon as I could.
The camp at this project is interesting. The walls of the buildings are woven thatch, over a wooden structure (wooden = branches). The main buildings are rectangular, and the individual sleeping huts are a typical dome-hut shape. We had the guest house, a square concrete building, with a metal door and roof, and even electricity (generator at the camp). We had been told of a hyena trying to come into camp when it was first established, but nothing since the generator had been installed, so thankfully, we didn’t see any such creatures. The only wildlife were a bunch of vultures at the garbage area (common to see vultures in West Africa), and some chickens and guinea fowl in the yard. February 22, 2008
The second day at the project. Breakfast was cereal and toast, much nicer quantities.
Our first stop of the day was the hand trenching site. Oh my goodness, what a lot of work. These trenches are dug by hand using picks and shovels. At this point, the trench is about 1.5m deep and almost 30m in length. I was incredible to watch the process.
We then visited some older trenches and artisanal working sites. At the artisanal working sites, it was pointed out that an area of laid out rocks was the location the miners used as a mosque. There are mosques everywhere, even one at camp. At each artisanal site that we visit, there are rocks laid out to indicate the location of their mosque. Quartz Outcrops, School, Artisanal Workings
From the trenches and artisanal workings, we visit some quartz outcrop areas, and I take even more pictures (have taken a lot so far). We then travel off our project and to a prospective project. Along the way, we stop in a village at a Coran school. I get to take pictures of the students and their teacher. It is very intruiging. After the school, we arrive at a large orpaillage site. There are holes and hills of tailings everywhere. We even find a piece of quartz with visible gold at the site. A young boy from the village of the Coran school, leads us to the site, and soon, 3 of his friends join us. Eventually, we take pictures of them and show them the pictures on the back of the camera, and they laugh. They follow us for the hour we are there. They are good kids, and I try to convince Amadou and Kamel that they should tell the boys that they should become geologists. Back to Camp and Back to Niamey
We are tired and it is getting later, now it is around 3:30. We head back to camp and drop off the young boy at his village. We continue on and eventually get back to camp around 4:45 pm and eat “lunch”. Today, another salad, followed by pasta and tomato sauce, and a chocolate brownie/cake for dessert. We finally leave for Niamey around 5:30pm. We have a few problems with the vehicle, seems that the air conditioning unit is acting up. When we get in cell coverage, a phone call to the owner and he will have it repaired overnight. That is good news as we travel to our next project tomorrow morning (another overnight trip). The trip home takes longer than expected with the vehicle delays and darkness. As we get to Torondi, it is dusky and dark within another 10 minutes. Today is market day at Torondi, and we pass many people on the road returning from their day at the market. At Torondi, the markets are still going, and the road is overflowing with people and animals. It is fascinating in the dim light. The air is dusty and smoky. We arrive back at Niamey around 8:30, and now it is bed time. So I will wrap uphere. I don’t know I fthe internet connection is strong enough tonight to upload photos, so it may just be text.