Solar power in West Africa
Link to what I am thinking of buying.
Just started looking for solar power chargers for my next shoot in West Africa.
Anyone have any advice on using solar gear? Any advice on shooting in West Africa?
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Where are you going to be working in West Africa? I lived for six months in Senegal. I think the technical challenges would be outweighed by the struggle to stay healthy and safe.
Visiting... Senegal, Mali, The Gambia and Guinea.
Any advice? Already had all my shots.
Advice on travel with video gear? Health?
Mediahead --- that sounds really interesting. I was there a long time ago (1980-1981) so I'm not sure how valuable my comments are, no doubt things have changed. I was on a youth program where we worked on rural agriculture projects with our Senegalese counterparts and learned about the culture. My group stayed in northern Senegal near Louga, but we also spent a lot of time in Dakar and visited other cities. Also spent a week doing a tour in southern Senegal, crossed The Gambia into the Casamance region of Senegal. At the time there was a lot of military presence in the south, and we saw (and were stopped) by army units. I've read that the southern independence movement has resulted in a peace treaty though.
A few ideas, hope this helps.
> You wrote you have your shots. Good! I got very sick while I was there, as did quite a few of my group members. I'm not sure if there are medications available now to help avoid dysentery, but it's just such a terrible drain on your energy, and knocks you out of service for days. You might want to have a doctor / tropical health specialist you can call back home. In Senegal they speak French (along with Wolof etc.) and not many people spoke English.
> Don't swim in lakes or rivers because of shistosomiasis. http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dpd/parasites/schistosomiasis/factsht_schistosomi...
> Find out the latest prevention measures for malaria. Have mosquito repellent and mosquito netting available.
> If you haven't been to the tropics before, don't underestimate the intensity of the sun. It is just so easy to get a severe burn in a ridiculously short exposure time. (I'm from Canada so this was even worse for me).
> Senegal and Mali are 90%+ Islamic. Very very good idea to read up on what to expect. I found the people really welcoming and gracious, and I'm sure you will too. But they do expect you to fit in. We got yelled at in some cities for wearing shorts. Don't forget to allow for their prayer times when planning shoots.
> Expect a lot of kids to follow you around, be curious about what you're doing, ask for money and generally just be an inconvenience during your shoots.
> There are religious cities (like Touba) which have perimeter inspection points. Religious police have extraordinary authority. Expect to have your vehicle searched for the usual prohibited items. In other areas it was pretty casual though. You might want to avoid use of your left hand though in eating and greeting. It's considered "dirty". You'll realize why after you've visited some of the very basic toilets/washrooms. You're going to find some that have just a hole in the floor and a can of water.
> I had no problem with photography. I took a lot of photos, but no video. People didn't seem to mind.
> I lost a camera to theft, as well as some money. I would be extremely cautious with your gear and passport / ID. Police didn't hassle us though, and many people were very helpful and kind.
> If you're going to be in an area away from a major town/city for any length of time, I would really want to investigate the availability of fresh water and basic sanitation. That was one of our biggest problems.
> If you're doing long distance trips around the country there are squadrons of "taxi" like vans/station wagons that can be hired for day trips. They're everywhere! This is fine and works well, but make sure you negotiate the price and don't be shy about it. Negoiation and bartering is expected and respected. Make sure it is absolutely clear. We had drivers try to rip us off upon arrival at the destination, demanding more money, threatening to keep our bags, etc. They just thought we were soft and gullible... but usually some other local men would come to our assistance after we got into a loud argument over it at the destination. And oh ya, the drivers aren't actually trying to get everyone killed, they just like to drive fast!
> Sand is everywhere. Expect it to get into your gear if you don't have covers.
Hope you have a great time and successful shoots. Going to be a great experience.
Thanks for the info. I have had very good advisers tell me the same kinds of things.
So we should be fine. At this point, my main concerns are all technical and gear related.
Lights, bags, power, dust covers, etc.