Monday, May 26, 2008

And 2 makes 10!

I got another 2 males today, wich brings me to a wonderful total of 10. I'm trying to ignore the fact that in summer I usually averaged about 5 a day, with my record being 10 in one morning... It's cold. I'm trying!

Had an unfortunate incident where I realised that the washing machine (the luxury of doing fieldwork in the same place as some of the higer-ups in my department - a washing machine and a microwave are unheard-of luxuries in the field!) isn't working. It might be because there is a leak in the main water pipe to the outside bathrooms - I turn the water on whenever I shower, but otherwise leave it off - which has lead to some air-blocks in the pipes. so the washing machine is refsing to work as there is no water going into it. Fair enough.

I'm not sure what's worse... handwashing clothes, or the fact that I've been here for long enough to need to do laundry! To be fair, I didn't need to do washing nearly as often when I was here before, as I brought more clothes, but this time I packed very very quickly, and only brought clothes that were relatively destroyed in the last trip. There's no shame in wearing holey jeans when there's nobody around to see them, and I'd rather save the non-holey/ripped/glue-stained clothes for times when I need to appear as a normal human being rather than just a zoologist.

Knowing all of this, there's still a certain feeling of permanence to doing laundry. Sure I've done the domestic stuff here, I cook, clean, buy groceries, tidy up occasionally and have my morning and evening routines as well as the essential midday nap. But when you start washing clothes, it becomes... home, not just temporary accomodation. Home is the only word I can come up with to describe it, and that's far from perfect. it's just that I'm here now, and I'm settled now. And I've done laundry, and cooked my meals days in advance for when I know I'll be too tired to cook (the alternative being cereal for dinner which gives me weird dreams and confuses me competely).

I was watching the Long Way Down again today, and two things about living in Africa really struck me:

  1. We really don't know a lot about what's going on in our own continent. They were visiting people and hearing stories of horrible horrible atrocities, and I'd had no idea. I know bad stuff happens, but we never hear about it. On the other hand I know the finer points of everything going on in the US and the UK (not everything, but I think we're mostly pretty clued-up), but almost nothing about Africa. It's really sad, and really pathetic. Why don't we care? And why are we so western-centred. I know as a caucasian african (if I'm even allowed to call myself African...) I have roots in Europe and the western world in general, but I'm not European! If I've learned anything from my trips overseas it's that my family came form the UK but we don't live there anymore. I live on African time, speak south african slang (with an awful s'effrican accent that is unintelligable to most of the english-speaking world - I say 'rim', you hear 'room') and a part of me loves the noiose and the friendliness and the chaos that comes with living here.

  2. We are so incredibly lucky. The whole group got to Kenya and saw elephants and went all "WOW! ELEPHANTS!!!" I tried to think back to my first experience seeing elephants in the wild, but I don't remember it. If you go on game drives they even get a bit annoying, they walk in the middle of the road and refuse to move, or you get stuck behind some tourist who has never seen... an elephant before! Not that they aren't very cool, Elephants rock. They were also convinced that lions were going to come after them in the middle of the day, and got super-excited about zebras. I'm waiting to see their reactions to impala...

It just stuns me every time I realise how incredible life here is, maybe more so because I'm living in the gammadoelas at the moment, but we have so much! There's always something cool to chase after or look at. Just today - and it was a cold and horrible day except for an hour or two, I saw kudu, hartebees, duikers, baboons (I sat on the veranda, and looked across to see a baboon sitting in a tree in the same posture as me!), vervet monkeys, several different lizards - not many of mine unfortunately, butterflies, real flies, dung beetles, bees, ants, sunbirds, lots of other birds, scorpions... the list goes on. And the scary thing is, I wasn't even looking for them (except the lizards...).

It creeped me out to realise that I'm uncomfortable walking across an outcrop when lizards aren't scurrying around. It's not just frustrating, it's weird. So my point of the story: Africa is rox! and we should really appreciate it a whole lot more than we do!


Luke said...

I'm also so chuffed to live here! Pity about the baboons though...

Helen said...

I'll tell Thandi you said that!