13-Jun-2002 -- On a trip northwest from Niamey to visit the town of Tera, Nate McLaurin and I decided to try to find 14N 1E. I had marked it on my GPS on a previous trip and noticed a road leading north from the village of Firaw Koira in the general direction of the Confluence, located some 5 kilometers north of the main paved route.
We left early in the morning and crossed the Niger on a dilapidated ferry at Farié, some 60 kilometers northwest of Niamey. We ate lunch in Tera and visited the market before heading back about 4 pm. At Firaw Koira we turned north on a track, traveling through freshly planted millet fields. It had rained a week earlier but the terrain was dry. After a couple of kilometers the track began to lead us more towards the east, so we left it and began to follow the GPS pointer cross-country. We ran into a huge gully that even the faithful Suzuki couldn't cross, so had to detour until we found a place where we could ford it using 4-wheel-drive low range. On the way we stopped and photographed a bunch of vultures feeding on the carcass of a cow.
We crossed a few small, sandy gullies but had no further trouble until we reached the Confluence. It had a small thorn tree growing out of it. There were quite a few Fulani villages in the general vicinity but none within sight of the Confluence. There was a lone granary to the east, which we photographed.
We still had about 130 kilometers to go before reaching home, including a ferry crossing, so we headed back about 5 pm. We reached the ferry around 6 and waited in line some 40 minutes to board, but by the time our turn came there was no more room on the boat. We thought of taking the back road and crossing the river at Niamey on the bridge, but the ferry personnel said they would just cross and come immediately back, not respecting the hourly schedule. So we decided to wait. The sun set at 7:21 and the ferry was still not back. The hoists on the boarding ramps no longer operated, so they could not come very far up the slips, and there was a good pool of water between the ferry and the dock. This wet the tires of the vehicles trying to board and some would spin and spin trying to climb the ramp, or it would take several tries backing up and making a run before they could get on. In addition, since there was only one engine on the ferry, located on a corner, they were making everyone back onto it!
It finally arrived back where we were waiting at 8 and we boarded (using 4-wheel drive), but then they had trouble starting the one remaining engine. This took a good 15 minutes, and by that time other vehicles had arrived, so they let four or five more board. It was now pitch dark on the river. We launched, noticing that the pilot had to communicate with the engineer by flashlight signals. Apparently the engine-control cables were cut! It was a relief to reach the left bank at 8:30, and we arrived at the house at 9, having spent 13 hours since we left that morning.