I wrote the below post on Sunday afternoon, and neglected to actually post said post until just now. Pole sana! Here ’tis:
Hello friends! Habari za asubuhi? (How’re you doing this morning?) I write ‘morning’, as by the time most of you read this, you’ll be rolling out of bed or making Sunday coffee. As I did, also this morning, but about 7 or 8 hours ago. Time travel: it’s a hard life, but someone’s got to do it.
The last few days have been wicked eventful, as the entire Mt. Kenya crew mobilized and finally took off for their expedition. There were a million things for them to accomplish before leaving: permits, arrivals to coordinate and arrange rides for, last-minute purchases, charging batteries for camera traps, teaching folks on the team to use camera traps, etc. etc. etc. It was exhausting (-looking), and I tried to help out as much as I could. Even if that were just grasping my friend and lab-mate by the shoulders and affirming that he was doing a fantastic job of planning for five weeks of camping and intensive science at altitude (he really looked like he needed it). Now that they’re gone, it’s pretty much a ghost town here at Mpala: myself, four other grad students, and a few post-docs are all who remain.
Part of the crew that moved to Mt. Kenya on Saturday was my roommate, Molly. As a result, I moved into a room on-site so I can avoid driving the 20-30 mins to and from our house by myself every day. While Mtoto is a little, easily-handled vehicle, I don’t relish the thought of dealing with a breakdown or a flat tire at dusk by myself. So, here I am for the next two weeks, til I go back to the States. For my last night at the Mlima Tatu house, my friend Grace came to make dinner and hang out. This morning, we spent a lazy Sunday enjoying the beautiful porch, drinking coffee and watching an elephant family meander around across the river. After that, I packed up my things and off we went, back to the Centre. (Side note: having had barely had room to pack any personal items when I left California, it’s been an incredibly swift process to pack up my things and move when I need to. I already knew this about myself, but I’m a consummate over-packer, so it’s refreshing to note that I really only need like, three tee shirts and a pair of shorts or two. Not unrelatedly, I’m definitely not in the running for best-dressed or anything.)
Moving on-site means meals with the other researchers staying here, no more cooking (which I’m actually a bit sad about), the ability to stay and do more lab-work after fieldwork hours are over, and a hell of a shorter commute. While I’ll miss the Mlima Tatu house immensely and all of its beautiful glory (the VIEW upon waking up…), I’d love to go back someday to rent it as a visitor, when I’d have time to really enjoy it fully rather than to use it solely as a place to cook dinner and go to sleep. We had some great dinners, though, so there’s that. Cooking at altitude sort of kicked my butt for awhile, but we got the hang of it.
This week and next will be a flurry of activity as I try to accomplish as much of my sampling and lab work as I can. I expect I’ll be pretty busy in the coming days, but I’m hopeful I can get it all done. Here goes!
Animal sightings! A buffalo in the experimental plots:
A CHEETAH!! This beaut was sighted on the drive up to my field site. She could not have cared less that we were in the car, gawking at her loveliness.
A gif of the lady moving, for good measure, because she’s got serious swagger:
This bird (African fish-eagle):
That bird (have yet to ID this particular one):
These birds (ostriches):
This other bird (secretary bird):
This spider (I’m sorry, in advance, also it’s a golden orb weaver):