A 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.
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.
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 weve 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.