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January 7th

Another long day in the field was to follow and we headed to Mewat again bright and early.  I took Nick’s place on the team as I’m a bit of a floating agent while not using the GIS software.  This entailed using GPS to map cross sections of the areas behind the check dams.  So we were basically hiking around at the foot of the mountains, which was pretty nice.  A few little boys followed us around as we worked and I gave one a shiny quarter and he beamed (it was not meant as charity but more as a souvenir from the day those Americans were in town).  After mapping out two check dam areas, we had another task.  We are using a topo map from 1969 and we are not sure how accurate it is so we had to climb up the mountain dropping GPS waypoints every few meters to compare to that section of the topo map.  We didn’t plan on climbing all the way to the top of the ridge, but the other Joe and I had some extra time before meeting the rest of the crew and we went all the way to the top.  We were rewarded with amazing views of the villages below and plots of bright yellow mustard plants stretching as far as we could see.  Right when we got there, the Azan (call to prayer) began ringing across the land, first from one village to the north, then another to the south, then another and another.  We reluctantly made our descent and met up with Marian, Steve, and Ben.  Marian had the amazing idea of walking through the village to the community center, about 2 km away instead of driving.  We passed many huts and stone structures and were able to see more closely how these people live.  We passed a barber and the men gathered there started playfully yelling and laughing at me in their tongue, presumably because I really need a shave and haircut!  On the outskirts of the village before we reached the community center, a group of 20 or so young boys were gathered playing cricket.  I waved at them and they motioned for us to join them.  I grabbed the bat from a boy, prepared to make a fool of myself.  I missed the first pitch but was able to hit the second one!  The other guys all took a turn, and Steve managed to hit a line drive into Marian’s midsection from about 10 meters away.  Luckily no harm done and we all got a good laugh out of that!  We got to the community center and were treated with another amazing lunch before heading out into the field to map out one more check dam, which was an enjoyable hike into the bush flanked by herdsman and their cows, goats, and donkeys.  We finished and headed out of Ghagas before stopping in two other villages to map out some ponds.  In the first village we stopped at a huge crowd gathered around us, at least 50 people.  We taught the kids how to fist bump, which they really got a kick out of, especially when we blew it up.  Now I’m back safely to civilization, and pretty tuckered out.  Goodnight (morning) all!

 

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Last modified on September 10th, 2015
Posted on March 31st, 2013