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To explore the land where hurricanes are born, Sun-Sentinel foreign correspondent E.A. Torriero first interviewed meteorologists from around the world.
Based on information from those interviews, Torriero and Sun-Sentinel photographer Mike Stocker explored the African sub-Sahara, from eastern Niger to Senegal along the Atlantic Ocean.
Following the general path of African storm systems, they traveled more than 3,000 miles, most of it in a beat-up, rented four-wheel drive. They hired a driver and a guide, who spoke several tribal languages.
The journalists endured heat that sometimes reached 120 degrees, numerous vehicle breakdowns and many road checkpoints where authorities demanded bribes.
Stocker and Torriero spent nights at crude hotels or guest houses run by international aid groups, which rent rooms for small fees. Often, the hotels served meals, mostly of fresh fish from the murky Niger River, and vegetables. Bread, a staple from French colonial days, was available at local markets. And, there was always canned tuna to fall back on.
At times, the journalists were forced to divert from their itineraries because of danger from African conflicts.
Outside Timbuktu, bands of Tuareg bandits fight a civil war that officially ended in truce a few years ago. They steal four-wheel-drives and sell them, leaving the vehicles occupants in the desert.
Torriero and Stocker drove over sand dunes for more than 10 hours and criss-crossed the Niger River to avoid possible confrontations with bandits.
Later in their trip, in Senegal, Torriero and Stocker found that the way to their oceanside destination was hindered by more fighting.
Rebels bent on independence for southern Senegal had recently shot mortars at the control tower of the airport there. Flights were suspended, and to get there from the Senegalese capital of Dakar 10 hours away meant driving over a road with potholes filled with land mines.
The journalists struck a safe compromise by driving 200 miles north of the war zone, where fishermen wrestle with storms all summer but are safe from civil strife.
The old men of the sea who live there assured the journalists it was a wise move.