Preparing for our expedition 2014: In the photograph from left to right are Dean Hinchey and Richard Allison.
''Living in North Africa for short periods has been a fantastic experience. It's been a relationship that has continued each year for the past 22 years over subsequent trips and fossil expeditions, giving me the same feeling of satisfaction.'' Ben Allison
Each year we prepare for expeditions to our favoured points on the North African map, primarily in parts of Morocco. Here meeting and collecting with old friends we never lose the excitement of finding fossils. It's partly the paleontological aspects and being in such an exotic locality. Africa, as once you travel across deserts and mountains in North Africa one feels this could be any part of the greater continent, everything has a scale which diminishes one's importance in the adventurers life, it does seem every trip like a real adventure, even journeys well-traversed, by night (vast tracks of electric light free land), and day is effected by the light which in Africa seems alien to our European eyes.
Whilst preparing for our expedition 2014, the prep begins in England, with maps and old journals, discussions on what we may discover this trip. Then in no time, we are in the heart of Africa and things start to wind down to a pace which has to be met with understanding. Along the routes, we collect news of what new discoveries have been made. We listen and access what interest there is in any long sojourn to distant points and the most economical way to fit all into our schedule, this is normally the way of it. There is always the promise of much and usually the reality of not enough of what we really wish to discover. So we forage and hope and sometimes are rewarded with a unique fossil to bring home.
Preparing for our expedition 2014 helped everything run smoothly, allowing us to package our finds into custom wooden crates before exporting overseas, mostly ferried by container, however sometimes by air around the world. The packing of fossils in small towns and hauling tonnes of merchandise (rock), is laborious yet we do it with good humour and soon wave goodbye to transports which trundle hundreds of kilometres across the land in the direction of coastal ports or airports for customs clearances and exportation.
At the time it can often feel like the work is complete at this stage. However, the busman's holiday over the real work begins once we land back to reality and cataloguing, working to prepare and process our finds. Then soon enough we wish to be back in that rising swirling heat landscape with grit between our teeth once again!