Sunday, May 09, 2010

I'm a sheltered geologist

A while back, I was talking to some geologists, whose first language is not English, and who do a lot of work in Africa. They were concentrating on the corner of geologic region X, which spanned three countries. I knew why they avoided the second country, so I asked about the third.

"Oh, the access is very difficult. There are many mines there."

"Mines? If they're mining, shouldn't that make doing geology easier?" I asked in my naive white-boy way.

They just looked at me like I was the dumbest lump on the planet.

"No, no. Not mining. Land mines."

Sometimes I can be a real moron.


Sabine said...

Well I was thinking along the same lines, so I guess I have been sheltered too.

on-the-rocks said...

A friend of mine at UT El Paso had to suspend his dissertation field work in Chihuahua, Mexico due to the drug violence.

I don't know if he has completely given up or not.

In another place, back in the summer of 1978, one of my UTEP professors went to study carbonates in Yugoslavia. He said that when they got within about one mile from the Albanian border, the Albanian border guards would start shooting at them, just to harass them.

on-the-rocks said...

Even 25 years ago, things were weird along the Mexican border. This same friend was driving west of El Paso, near dusk one evening, perhaps 10 - 15 miles north of the border on the La Mesa Plateau.

He popped over a hill and saw a heavy truck and a halftrack (both unmarked) and while he was making his hasty U-turn, he noticed something was being transferred from one vehicle to the other.

A friend here in Georgia stumbled across several marijuana patches in the mountains while doing field work on the Dahlonega "gold belt". Fortunately, no one was around at the time.

Anonymous said...

A friend has a similar story from Africa, but in his case he was half-way up a hill searching for prospecting site when it dawned on him that the agitated local shouting "Mine! Mine!" from the road below wasn't going on about the juicy mineralised target he was seeking. He said the worst part was balancing the understandable desire to simply run like **** down the hill against the need to calmly remember exactly the path he had taken going up the hill...

Anonymous said...

Never mind international borders. There are plenty of tales in Australia of geos being used for target practice - even, or perhaps especially, in regions where the land is largely Crown-owned leases and geos are welcome by law to go about their business almost wherever they desire.