05-Mar-2004 -- I have had my eye on 14N 6E for some time now as I have traveled back and forth from Niamey to eastern Niger. The point is located some 8 or 9 kilometers southeast of the town of Madaoua, and about 4 kilometers distant from the main east-west road of Niger. The terrain looked easy enough (as most does north of about 13 degrees latitude in Niger), but there was some factor on every trip that prevented me from making the little sortie that would be necessary. Finally, heading east to cross the border into Nigeria on 5 March, 2004 with my wife, Gail, Kevin Cartwright, and Mary Ann Merritt, we were enough ahead of schedule that everyone agreed we should try to find the point.
So we motored southeast from Madaoua while I looked for a track heading in approximately the right direction. About 6 km out of town I found one, with the GPS reading just over 4 km to the Confluence. The day was very dusty with a strong northeast wind blowing out of the desert, so visibility was limited, but the temperatures were unseasonably cool. We were heading south into an intensively cultivated area with a number of dry watercourses intersecting it. After a couple of kilometers the track made a sharp left, so we began wandering and trying different tracks in order to keep the arrow pointed more or less in the right direction. We crossed a large field of calabash plants and entered an area of deep sand, which required us to put the Land Cruiser into four-wheel-drive mode. We crossed several dry washes and then headed over a stabilized sand dune with the GPS showing less than 1 km to the Confluence.
Then we sighted a village of just a few grass huts. Gail began telling the story of 11N 8E in Nigeria, where the point was in a village and we drew a very curious crowd! But fortunately this area was not quite as populated. We pulled to a stop on the Confluence and tried to get a shot of the GPS reading, but for some reason the camera was trying to focus on a reflection and we did not get any clear shots. We got out as an old man approached from a hut in the north of the village. Kevin and I tried to strike up a conversation with him in our limited Hausa and I got a photo of him examining Kevin's camera. We found that he was "Bouzou", which means a black-skinned Tamasheq speaker, or Tuareg, in the Hausa language. These are the former slaves of the lighter-skinned Tuareg. He told us the name of his village was Barengo. We greeted some of the ladies and got off a few shots of the area. Instead of trying to explain what we were doing, we asked for directions back to the road as if we were lost, and the old man was happy to oblige. I'm sure he thought we were quite foolish for getting lost 4 km from the main road! On the way back we used the GPS to follow a different route back to the road and continued our trip east.
Coordinator's note: This visit has been classified as incomplete because of the photo status.