On the road…again!
Afghanistan to Zambia
Chronicles of a Footloose Forester
By Dick Pellek
Let Me Take You On A Little Tour (in Google Earth)
Those with wanderlust in their blood often can be found in far flung places, living out their dreams. So it is that a restless forester, who chose a life that made the forest his office, sought out virgin forests and jungles whenever he could. His mother said that he had been born 100 years too late because the whole world had already been explored. True, to an extent, but the Footloose Forester was determined to seek out a few places where no footprints had ever been made. The jungles of Ujung Kulon at the western tip of Java fit the bill close enough. Blue ocean all around a few isolated islands of green made for stark contrasts in spatial encounters; and the area was all but uninhabited (Figure 1).
To get a better overview of the expanded area, however, it is preferable to use the interactive flight simulator in Google Earth to take a virtual flight. When you fly over the area it becomes obvious that, although it is lush, green and beautiful; there are few landmarks to go by.
The yellow stick pin points to the location of the research station from which the Footloose Forester set out each day to conduct his studies on the opposite shore.Getting there was by one-man boat; and although it was not far, by going alone, he always put himself in a situation by which he was isolated.
With the Google Earth program in your computer, you can expand the scene to show that all of the mainland to the east is as green and wild as the small island of Pulau Peucang where the living quarters were located. On the other hand, you can also zoom in to see how sparse the facilities are. Less than 20 people live on Pulau Peucang; and all of them are conservation officers and their families.
It might be better to choose another example that has lots of easily recognized landmarks; and plenty of history to boot. So, let’s fly via Google Earth to another island off the coast of Senegal, in Africa (Figure 2).
In this case, the yellow stick pin shows the approximate location of the apartment where the Footloose Forester stayed with his wife when he was in the Dakar region during the two year period when a team of environmentalists was conducting an Environmental Impact Statement pursuant to improving economic conditions along the Senegal River. The costly study included several study trips upstream into Mauritania and Mali.
The Island of Goreé is quiet and peaceful. Although it is situated about 3 miles east of the cornishe landform where the bustling city of Dakar is located, the residents can easily get into the city by taking the ferry which runs on a reliable schedule.
A panoramic view of Goree is shown in the low-angle photo of the island, below.
A few historical facts about Goreé tie it to events that most people can relate to. The popular movie, "The Guns of Navarone" was partially filmed at the SE tip of the island where black basalt palisades emerge from the water line to a plateau where coastal artillery gun emplacemnets installed by the Vichy Government of France fired on Allied ships during World War II. As regards the details of the deadly guns, they can be seen more clearly in several of the historical archived satellite photos taken of Goreé. A recent photo of one of the gun emplacements is shown below.
Although the vertical palisades are difficult to see clearly, their exact position can be traced by following the dark string of color from the water line until it peters out. Google Earth has an option by which the viewer can choose the scenes that best highlight both the basalt palisades and the gun emplacement. For whatever reason, the 6 November 2003 photo suite of Goreé shows the basaltic palisades in the best contrast. To see details up closer, choose the map coordinates 14° 39' 51.39" N; and 17° 23' 54.36" W; and zoom in to about 1340 feet camera elevation.
Goreé is also the site of the infamous House of Slaves, used as a temporary trans-shipment point during the colonial period of active slave trade. Slaves bound for the New World passed through the Door of No Return, directly up the gangplank of docked slave ships, anchored hard to. The Island of Goree has been designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Notable visitors to Goreé who stood in the Door of No Retun included Nelson Mandela, the mother of President Jimmie Carter; and Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama.
By the way, the coastal guns situated on the highest overlook on Goreé were probably the ones that sunk an American cruiser that is still visible on the ocean bottom, near the entrance to Goreé harbor where the ferry boats docks to discharge and take on Goreé residents who commute to the mainland of Senegal.