Sunday, June 3, 2007

Saturday from Dr. Steve

This entry is from Saturday evening in Bamendjou, by Dr. Steve (as I am sometimes known).

Busy day. Started out early, with the Mayor taking us to the chefery of Chief Sokoudjou, the King of Bamendjou. We had heard and read some pretty amazing things about this man, mostly from the internet site Here is an excerpt, which I translated:
“He incarnates the power, the authority and the sovereignty of the village. As in any monarchical system, he reports only to God. All his subjects owe him absolute obedience. He is an extraordinary man, a model and example. He is a person who listens to his people for the reinforcement of their well-being. He is the great guard of tradition. He is the reference of references.”
So anyway, we only got to meet him for a couple minutes…but he IS 6 foot six as it says in the web page (in French; google “sokoudjou”). We did get to see his museum full of pictures, statues, animal skins, and many other things. Saw the broad outlines of the small village necessary to house his wives and many children (at age 69, father of 125 children with 25 living wives…no comment!)
Then to work. Matheus, our talented driver, brought us to location with our piles of equipment. This was at Bakang’s main intersection (two dirt roads) where we had discovered a nonfunctioning well yesterday. Today the Bakang chief was not available. In any case, Barney and Julie set up the surveying equipment and they proceeded up the hill to survey to the school at the top, where the new well might go, and storage tank. The other four of us started with the resistivity equipment in the same area.
Ahem…limited success. After a couple measurement distances the resistivity setup stopped giving us any current reading. We did a lot of checking with Sarah’s backup voltmeter but could not figure out then problem. At the same time, Julie and Barney were having a tough time doing transits on the steep slopes.
We persevered and appear to have solved both problems with only a bit of lost time. The soil is so conductive that it blew out battery #1 which prevents the other batteries from doing anything. We figured out how to remove it from the circuit and still get everything to work. And B&J finally got the surveying down this evening.
We also took a trip to Baffousam, the largest nearby city. Phone calls had led us to the Director of Water and Energy for the area, who told us he had information about the unused well, and suggested that we visit him. People had told us that the well had only worked for a month after the well had een installed by the government, over a year ago.
The director was very helpful with lots of technical information of great assistance. We ended up with a pump repair person in the car back to Backang, who inspected the pump (squashing the bees in a plastic bag first) and said he can get it working within two days – before we leave, even, for a cost of about $100. We said go for it! So tomorrow that starts.
Nice dinner at the Mayor’s house, spaghetti with a seafood red sauce, quite delicious. Had a nice chat afterwards, including Olivia, the Mayor’s daughter, who has been a tremendous help. Planned for out activities tomorrow.

No comments: