Tibesti Mountains of the Sahara

Last month I visited Chad for the second and last time for MAF. I had the opportunity to fly to the northwestern corner of the country, close to the Libyan border in the central Sahara. I’ve been to remote and dangerous places due to human threat, but this is different. The harsh landscape and weather is the biggest threat should one become stranded or lost. 

I had the fortune to fly – three hours north to Faya across an endless sea of sand stretching to the horizon – then two additional hours west over the wildly dramatic Tibesti Mountains to Bardai. I was also fortunate to be in Bardai during a ‘cool’ time of the year that even became sweater-cold at night. Compare this to stories I’ve heard from April of heat soaring past 120ºF (49ºC).

Here are a few pictures from the flight. 

We stayed with two women who had recently moved to a ‘new’ house and were attempting to fix it up to their liking. It was a traditional style of home for this area – a mud-walled compound with open and covered areas. The temporary toilet consisted of a room with a hole to the outside for pee, and another temporary toilet outside the compound walls for other business. Jenny Davies (who was traveling with me) and I set up mossie tents in the room that would normally be used for dining on mats on the ground.

First-Time Fliers

On a recent trip to Papua New Guinea (PNG) for MAF, I watched the freaked-out reaction of several first-time fliers. 

Kenya From the Air

I have a lot to write about, but right now can only manage a few pictures of the scenery on a MAF flight from South Sudan to Kenya, passing over Lake Turkana and on to Marsabit and Nairobi. Kenya is blessed with some of the most stunning variety of scenery I’ve seen anywhere. These four photos are only from the far north in Marsabit County, the most remote and largest county in Kenya. It was a long flight, but man, I’m so fortunate to be able to see this extraordinary place.

Mysterious Floating Mountain

I found a forgotten photo today from November last year.

The scene was rather magical as I sat in the MAF Cessna 206 heading from Haydom Hospital back to Dodoma. The floating mountain mirage lasted only for about 10 minutes of flight before the bottom half began to materialize. This is Mount Harang, Tanzania’s fourth highest mountain at 3417 meters (11,210 ft).

I edited contrast to combat the haze, and color correction due to the tinted plane windows. It really looked like this: a floating mountain.

A ‘Barn-Raising’ – Congo Style

Black, thick, foot-deep mud is so much fun to sink into when you’re barefoot, and it’s supposed to be there…inside a house…in every room. This is for all the adults out there who have lost your memory of how much fun it is to get down and dirty, literally. Come to Congo and you can have a small taste.

Yesterday here in Nyankunde, the MAF international staff (and I, of course) had a crazy-fun, purely African experience of taking part in the Congo version of a ‘barn-raising’ (as the Amish do). This was a house, however, and the work involved mudding the bamboo frame inside and out. It was incredibly messy and crowded with well over a hundred people from the church and community helping out. The new house belongs to Kazi, one of MAF’s long-term employees in the village of Nyankunde where MAF is now based.

The frame was built at an earlier time, so this community day was all about the mud. The inside of the house is piled with dirt in every room (and there were about six). The women carry buckets of water from somewhere nearby and dump it into a massive tub, then carry it in smaller buckets to the house where a bucket-brigade of men pass it through to the room being worked on, throw it in the huge mounds of dirt, and mash it around with their feet and shovels until it turns into mud. Then it goes up on the walls by hand until every inch but the windows is filled in. This involves some throwing of big hunks of mud to the higher sections of walls, which I can attest, does not always stick.

I took pictures but many of the MAF staff got right in the mud with the rest of the work crew. It was such fun! Legitimate playing in the mud. No matter how hard I tried to protect my camera, though, I simply couldn’t keep the mud off it, or my bag, or my head from falling chunks, or my clothes….