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I'm about to head out for what will hopefully be a very unique adventure to the gold fields of Western Africa. I will be there for a little less than two weeks. This is not a perfectly safe location to travel in (unlike my visit to Australia a few years ago). Tropical diseases are common, and access to food, fuel and other necessary goods is quite limited once you leave the big cities. Desperate people who are willing to rob, steal or even threaten your life are far more common than I would like. Millions of people in this part of the world make a meager living digging, crushing and panning gold ores by hand, extracting a few dollars worth of precious yellow each day. While it is a brutal life, small scale gold mining is an important alternative to extreme poverty and starvation. Average incomes in a number of these nations is less than $400 per year. Some countries here are a lot more stable than others, and while some welcome outsiders, some do not. However, where the governments are willing to work with the mining companies to the benefit of all, big mining companies are making important new discoveries. Modern geologic exploration techniques are making a real difference in this remote part of the world. I wont be filming some bogus reality TV series (or any TV of any type), though I am taking my camera. I wont be heading out on my own, but will be a part of a larger group. This is not a good place for tourists. Many of the countries in this part of the world speak French as their legal language, so I am brushing up on that old Francais I took in High School! Prospecting on my own behalf to find gold for myself will not be the main objective on this trip. I cant say too much more than that at this time, readers of the ICMJ Prospecting and Mining Journal will see some more detailed articles on this adventure, so stay tuned. If I have internet access I will try to post a few updates during the trip. This is like nothing I have ever done before. May the Lord keep a steady watch over me while I am away. Wish me luck, gents, and that I will return in good health with lots of stories to tell.