Friday, 15 January 2016

Malawi - The Magnificent Nail Hunt

I was in Malawi last week, part of a survey team working on the road north out of Lilongwe.  One of my roles was to find various survey control that had been established alongside the road.  Aside from the trig beacons, which were scattered every 40km on average, there were concreted points every km (flush with the ground) and interim secondary control points established with nails.

My first challenge was to find the point at this market.
Concrete marker market
Apparently I was quite amusing to watch as I'd hop out of the car glued to the GPS and walk slowly in ever decreasing circles, staring at the ground, until I stopped. However I still couldn't find it. Being the only white female in the area, with my natty yellow fluorescent jacket and floppy hat, blending in wasn't likely. A few chaps looked at me as I scuffed at the ground with my feet then pointed to the soil about a metre away. Ta dah - my goal!
Concrete marker
It wasn't possible to obtain a GPS fix inside the car so I adopted an arm-out-the-window surveying approach which worked well. I was a little nervous I'd drop it in the bush at times, or a local kid would do a sprint-by GPS grab, but I held onto it.
This is what makes me happy - a camera in one hand and a GPS in the other. Heaven.
Peg hunting
The most satisfying find of the day came when I wandered off to find a nail in the bush.
My handheld  GPS wasn't accurate enough to narrow me to down to the nearest centimetre so I just wandered around looking aimless.  My presence attracted a few boys who hopped over and started chatting with our Malawian surveyor.  They seemed to know what he was talking about.  I suspect the presence of the survey team a few months earlier had been watched by them.  However I wasn't expecting the boy to find it.
Golly - he's good.  I have not been so pleased to see a nail for a long time!
The peg
The boy was with his two brothers, the oldest of who organised his younger siblings for the family photo shoot.
Peg hunting
We headed further north and climbed up to a trig with magnificent views.
Malawi trig 94NWT
Malawi trig 94NWT
Not being content with one trig, a day or so later we bagged this one on the way back into Lilongwe.
Malawi trig 142NWT
It is a close call but I really do think my legs are whiter than the trig pillar.
Malawi trig 85NWT

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