exploratorium eclipse dispatches
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click for live webcast June 21 2001  
mugulameno village
bright clear morning! While the main part of the team begins to set up the technical equipment for the eclipse, we head up the Zambezi toward Mugalemeno, a village of the Goba tribe, where Paul will make an eclipse presentation. Like most of our experiences here in Zambia, the journey is as important as the destination. Around the first corner we see a pod of hippos containing more animals than we have seen during our entire trip so far. Half a mile farther on, we come upon a herd of elephants, ranged along the shore as they eat and drink. When you come up close to a wild elephant, the word "enormous" takes on new meaning-- these animals are so big they stop our breath. Two big bulls watch us closely as we float past.
armored cricket
armored ground cricket

After a couple of hours we arrive at the village. Walking up from the bank through planted fields of corn, sorghum, millet and squash, we spot a huge armored cricket, looking like a creature from a different world.

Children appear out of nowhere, kids with wide eyes, who take us by the hand as we walk on into a village of round thatch huts. Women and children sit in the shade of the huts talking-- they turn to watch our improbable parade. Clearly we are as alien and interesting to them as they are to us. Crowds of people stream out to join us under the shade of a large tree. Though their faces seem scored and worn, these people are all warm and welcoming, and their laughter is joyful.

bull elephants

mugulameno photo
Mugulameno Village

Many people do not speak English here, so a teacher agrees to translate for Paul as he describes the upcoming eclipse. Emphasizing the dangers of looking at the sun before the eclipse is total, Paul holds up a magnifying glass and a leaf. "This lens is like the lens of your eye, this leaf is the back of your eye." He focuses the sunlight onto the leaf, raising a puff of smoke and burning a hole in the leaf. People gasp. Pauls demonstrates how you can make a pinhole camera using their fingers to project the eclipse onto a smooth patch of dirt, and charges them with teaching everyone else in the village how to view the eclipse safely.

Later, we head back downriver into a beautiful sunset, thinking how different our lives are from the people we’ve met today. Then, looming up in the dusk, we can see the large white curved shape of the satellite dish our crew has set up today, through which we'll transmit our eclipse coverage around the world.


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