Tuesday, April 11, 2006

There was a full eclipse over the desert on the 29th of March. Mary Lynn saw it in eastern Niger. I had thought of getting her on here as a guest blogger, but she had so many emails to catch up on, I didn’t have the heart to ask her to do any more work.
So, you’re stuck with me.
She signed up for the trip over a year ago. A hard-working lawyer with a passion for travel, she knew she’d better stake out her claim to some quality vacation time. Perhaps March in the Teneré was not the ideal choice, as the temperatures are at a maximum then, but there was an interesting expedition being planned to get a good view of the full eclipse. She’d gotten a taste for the African desert two years ago on a visit to Burkina and decided to really experience it.
Chris, who was leading the expedition, is an experienced adventure traveler and had managed to gather a group of 12 from all over the world- South Africa, Italy, England, Poland, Mexico……..Mary Lynn was the only one from the United States.
This diverse group set out from Agadez in early March with their Tuareg driver/guides and 3 four wheel drive Toyotas. They spent 15 days making a big loop around the Teneré. They drove long distances frequently punctuated with stops for digging out a vehicle, changing a tire or making some other repair.
The photos Mary Lynn took show a surprisingly varied landscape: huge dunes of pale yellow sand, featureless plains, forests of eroded rock arches, hills of white marble streaked with blue, and rock formations covered with prehistoric paintings.
The eclipse itself was very dramatic--as the sky got darker, the temperature plummeted. Then one by one stars became visible and the moon became a black disk in the sky surrounded by the thin yellow rays of the solar corona.
About five days later, the desert phase of her trip was over, and Mary Lynn caught a bus down from Agadez to Niamey. After a night there, she got another bus to Ouagadougou.
Her stay here was pretty calm. It was a chance for her to unwind, and enjoy sand-free food. She was quite a good sport and very gracious about following me around as I took care of my daily stuff- Papiers du Sahel, school runs, grocery shopping, etc.
I also took Mary Lynn to visit Yvonne, a woman that I have known for a few years. She has had many trials in her life- crippled by polio at age three, orphaned shortly after and left to live in the streets alone at only eight years old. She now has twin babies, just born two months ago. You can see them in the picture with Mary Lynn. They are called Jacob and Elisabeth.

No comments: