August 23, 2008

Wrapping up


It doesn't seem like we accomplished much on Thursday. A couple of us got a media center driver to take us downtown to do a little shopping and change some money. I finally got batteries that work in my camera and found a small bookstore that had a Hausa-English dictionary. Unfortunately it is not also a English-Hausa dictionary. We also hit the craft stores in the tourist part of town. Some folks had been there on Wednesday so the shop keepers were happy to see us again.

Mike, Luis, and Deily all got assigned to home stays so they're happy to be off seeing the town in a more Nigerian perspective. Unfortunately, Erika and Joe were ill; Joe's been ill quite a bit and is trying to get his return flight moved up so that he'll fly out with all the rest of us rather than staying for an additional three weeks.

A power outage caused some problems with the eGranary Thursday evening. When the generator came on and the machines started up the server complained about a corrupt filesystem. It would be a serious blow if we lost the eGranary, so we're scrounging through the lab to look for a good UPS that will actually keep the machine running for a while in the event of a power failure. This power issue is really pernicious and leads to hidden and not-so-hidden expenses everywhere. Father Michael told us that the center spends N12,000 a day just on diesel to run the generators.


Friday is a half day here as most offices and shops shut down for the afternoon for Muslim prayers. We ran some errands in a hurry to get last minute items before noon. Tony (who teaches computer classes here and has been our primary IT liaison) and I went to town to get PVC pipe to bury the CAT5 cable connecting the media center with the bookstore/cyber cafe. We also were able to return some coax cable we hadn't used and picked up a couple other odds and ends.

I have a copy of the Ubuntu package repository on my laptop that I'm trying to figure out how to share, but haven't come up with a good storage option for 24GB of packages. I'm going to burn it to DVDs for now so hopefully it can be installed on a hard drive somewhere. One of Linux's great strengths is the ability to install software easily over the Internet, but considering the bandwidth here, that can also be a liability. Having the repository locally should make a huge difference.

The group dug a shallow trench between the buildings here and we ran CAT5 cable through the PVC and buried it. At least that's one project accomplished. We've given up any hope of seeing the computer shipment before we leave on Sunday.

Friday night we were treated to a small party at the Fathers' house. Father Kukah, Father Tony, and Father Michael hosted us and several other priests and members of the community attended along with a couple of the host families who had taken us into their homes.


We spent the morning tidying up the computer lab where we had spread out all our hardware and tools. We buried the last few feet of cable and fixed up the connection. The group then walked over to the nearby Internet cafe which was unfortunately closed. The power was off and the cost of running the generator probably outweighed the revenue from customers.

Nicholas was to leave at 3 in the afternoon to drive to Abuja where he would catch his flight to Lagos and then on to Johannesburg en route to Zimbabwe. He had a lot of last minute things to wrap up and we exchanged contact information before he was whisked off.

Meanwhile, Bryan and Joe wanted to try to get some video footage of the town beyond the walls of the social center. Unfortunately, they had not gotten much further than the gate of the compound when they were stopped by a pair of plainclothes secret service members. Bryan and Joe were arrested, put in the back of the car and taken to a nearby station. The social center guards alerted Father Michael and soon Carey, Father Michael, Father Kukah and several others were headed to the station to try to get them out.

Apparently Bryan and Joe were interrogated and suspected of a variety of transgressions including espionage and terrorism. It's not clear to me how critical the situation was, but the Fathers were able to get them released fairly quickly. They even had their tape returned.

The group will be taking a bus to Abuja tomorrow afternoon then catching a flight to Frankfurt. We'll then split up onto our various flights onward. I expect to be back in Minneapolis by Monday evening.

Posted by cayfo001 at August 23, 2008 11:56 AM