With the rising full moon we reached the campsite at the edge of the canyon we had chosen about a mile north of the find location. We pitched our tents and unpacked most of our equipment for a homely setup with the intention to stay the next few days at that site. To celebrate the occasion, Marc conjured a multi-course dinner menu which we rounded off with the usual bottle of Gerrouane at the blazing bonfire.
Pjotr was the hero of the day. The chances that our first find after six days of unsuccessful search would be an achondrite were about five percent. And the prospects that, at the same time, our first find would also represent a very recent fall were astronomically low. And yet he had made this find. Pjotr, visibly delighted, took the occasion to entertain us with a little anecdote from the Kainsaz strewnfield in Tartarstan.
During one of his countless expeditions to search for fragments of the Kainsaz meteorite, a carbonaceous chondrite which fell in the impenetrable forests of Tartarstan in 1937, he had met an old acquaintance. This man, to the time of their encounter, had already been several weeks at the site. He had searched fruitlessly. Pjotr and his friend discussed their equipment, and this man demonstrated his metal detector which he had designed and assembled himself. Pjotr, permanently interested in things technical, examined the device diligently. He came to the conclusion that this detector was probably the best he had seen, and certainly better than the off-the-rack metal detector which he was using. The search depth of the home-made device was amazing and Pjotr admitted the engineering talent of his acquaintance.
Naturally, also the chances to find one of the few Kainsaz meteorites scattered far and wide, were discussed. In the process Pjotr’s friend held the view, that persistence and his superior technology alone would inevitably lead to success, be it sooner or later. But Pjotr had to slightly disagree. There was a certain ingredient that was necessary, and without which success on this strewnfield would not be possible, Pjotr explained to his astonished acquaintance.
“And what would this secret ingredient be?” his acquaintance inquired curiously. “Fortune”, Pjotr replied calmly. “Nonsense!” the man declared. He didn’t want to have any of this superstitious nonsense. He didn’t believe in mumbo-jumbo, he lived in an enlightened era, this he made clear. He would simply stay until he would find a meteorite, period. In the end, Pjotr would have to acknowledge the technical advantage of his equipment and the superiority of the latter’s approach.
The two said goodbye to each other, but not without the prior agreement to stay in touch and inform each other after their return to civilization about the outcome of their search. And so Pjotr’s friend disappeared again into the forest from which he had emerged, while Pjotr and his assistant continued to search at the spot. And indeed, what no one had expected, happened. Only minutes after his friend had left, Pjotr’s assistant, at a spot only meters from where their conversation had taken place, found a breathtaking Kainsaz meteorite of several hundred grams.
Immediately after his return to Moscow and as agreed upon, Pjotr contacted his friend. Contrary to his expectations his search had been unsuccessful, he told Pjotr. Pjotr instead told him about his spectacular find only a few meters from the spot where they had met, but his acquaintance was so baffled that Pjotr received no response from him.