Saturday, May 31, 2008

Fun on the rocks

Today was a very weird and different day. In a lot fo respects it was the same as many of the days on the trip, but at the same time it was incredible different. Or rather, I was different. once again I didn't catch any of the lizards that I need. It's incredibly frustrating, I only need 3 more, and it's seeming like I'll be here forever! But something shifted in mybrain while I was sitting in the sun (coincidence?) and I was reminded of a story I heard of a man working in a toll booth who used to turn the music up nd have a fantastic party every day at work.

I had something sharp in my shoe - the blackjacks and grass seeds get right through and into the mesh where they bother me all day - and I decided to take a break. At the time i had a bunch of traps set up too far from any other sites to monitor them effectively, so I settled down in the shde and took my shoes off. Not that remarkable. On this trip I've done a fair amount of crawling through thorn bushes, either to set traps or to get to various sites, so my shins have been scratched and cut like crazy. Add the insect bites and you could probably play connect-the-dots on my legs to come up with some impressive constellations. climbing over some boulders earlier had scraped my shins and some of the cuts were bleeding, so I rolled the bottom of my pants up to stop the blood from staining them, and I took a break. I had some water, tried to eat the apple I took along this morning only to find that it had been pulped somewhere along the line, and I wtched the traps and listened to my Ipod.

It was a beautiful day, with the bright blue sky that I've never seen in any other part of the world, and I was high on a rocky outcrop where I could see for miles and it was so beautiful... So beautiful that I turned up the music and, barefoot and bleeding, I danced around the outcrop.

From that point on I found that I wasn't frustrated or upset or anything. I went to another site to scout around for trapping locations for tomorrow and wound up exploring huge sections that had been hidden by grasses and I only found because I was feeling adventurous. I did some rock-climbing that got a little bit hair-raising to sa the least, and I found a lovely area that will get the perfect morning sun - a great site if I can figure ouot how to get to it.

Once I was done exploring I found an old site (named "burned tree" because there happens to be an old burned tree on the edge - imaginative I know, I named it!) and I sat and wited and waited. Eventually I saw two (possibly three but I'm not sure if the third is a separate lizard or the first one moving quickly) lizards and I stayed watching them until after sunset so that I'll know where to catch them when they wake up tomorrow morning.

That was on a large outcrop, known as the Sundowner rock, because it's one of the most beautiful vantage points on the farm, and we always take visitors up there for sundowners. admittedly I was just drinking water (and eating a Sparkle because I didn't go home for lunch), but I got to watch the sunset.

And it was beautiful.

Friday, May 30, 2008

introspection is dangerous!

So once again I came home lizard-free today! It was still a very action-packed day, I explored 2 huge outcrop, confirming my suspicions that they were lizard-free, and managed to get nicely sunburned in the process. At a third site, I went to a spot that I know to be a good lizard-trapping area, to find a massive snake crawling into the crevice I was planning too set traps at. When I say huge, I estimted the length to be around 2 1/2 metres. Even taking into account that I got the fright of my life, you're still left with at least 2 metres of scary snake! I like snakes, I really do, but I like them when I see them with someone who knows about snakes. I like to handle them if I know for a fact that they can't hurt me, or that if they do it won't put me in hospital. To see a giant snake while in an area that has no cellphone coverage, at least 40 minutes drive from a hospital... that's scary!

So the snake went across the outcrop and into a revice, no doubt having a lovely snack on the lizards inside. They were fantastically oblivious to him, some of them even ran up and tongue-flicked a welcome. I hope that he didn't get any of my males, but I didn't get close enough to watch, plus his head was under the rocks, and I couldn't see what he was doing.

When I'd stopped watching him, sneaking closer to look at him properly so that I can try very hard to ID it when I get home, i moved to another outcrop, doing some fabulous offroad driving and settled down to try and get at least one more male. No such luck. so I started thinking.

I discovered last year that fieldwork is very dangerous in that while you're very active and busy all of the time, it's mostly physical work, and very little else. Plus you have to spend long hours out of doors, waiting for lizards to go onto traps, which means that you start to think. If you add the sun, the heat and the lack of other people to put things into perspective, the introspection can get very unpleasant, if enlightening!

It may help to point out that almost all of my very deep and insightful opinions on relationships, people around me, religion, science, science AND religion, education and many other topics, were thought up and thought through while sitting on a rock, in the sun, waiting for a lizard to stop jumping over my traps and run onto them.

Today was no different. I started to figure out why I have been so frustrated lately (lizard-trapping notwithstanding), why I'm still here when I could have given up and gone home, and how that links in to my somewhat irrational and yet exceedingly rational fears about life in general. It's left me a little bit subdued, and for once I wish I was at home, so that I could talk some of it out with someone. at the same time I know what the answers are, but how to change things is another matter entirely.

So I came home and watched "Good Luck Chuck" it was awful, and therefore exactly what I needed! I'm going to go and fond some other terrible movie to watch... I have a whole bundle of terrible horror movies that Joey gave me before I left, maybe I'll giggle my way through one of them before I go to bed. Too bad I didn't bring the mutant-cow-baby-slasher movie with me!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Running out of steam

So I caught lizard number 12 today, about 6 sites and 2 days after the victorious rock-climbing hair-raising capture of number 11. I even went back and did some similar rock-climbing only to find that there were no lizards for me to catch. It was a cold and windy day yesterday, so I wasn't all too shocked about not catching anything, as much as I was still a bit upset. The problem with doing something single-mindedly day in and day out is that after a while it becomes personal. So yesterday was a very hard day, even if it wasn't the only lizard-free day on this trip.

I'm getting to the stage where I've had enough. It's weird to say that, considering that last year I spent almost 3 months here, and hated having to leave at the end of it. It's not even that fieldwork wasa easy last time - far from it. It was easier than this time in that I found lizards a lot more easily, but thing still went wrong, and it rained all the time, and i had to live with someone I didn't particularly get along with most of the time. I think it's just the frustration of working really really hard with little reward. Plus I have a ton of other work that I should be doing here, that isn't happening. It's all the data analysis and writing that I usually associate with being behind my desk in the lab, not my favourite part of research, but one of the most important parts nonetheless.

So beside the fact that I'm working really hard and essentially getting nowhere, I've got the naggin feeling in the back of my mind that I should be using all of my time effectively. But when I get in from the field and I'm hot and dirty and usually bleeding (you try crawl throgh the thorn-bushes I went through today and see how you turn out!), with a throobbing headache from being in the sun all day, all I want is a nap. And I've learned from long experience, that naptime is ALWAYS worth it!

Speaking of which... I'm going to go and sleep now!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


So I caught lizard number 11 today. It was the end of a marathon morning of trapping. I decided to go outside of the farm, into the conservancy, where the nearby farmers have allowed to to climb fences and trap on their properties. I headed off to the nearby dam because there are lovely outcrops right next to it, although the lizards there have always been ridiculously stubborn. I didn't manage to catch anything, and by midmorning was packing up and getting ready to move on when a tiny old lady came up and said hello.

I got the fright of my life, but I responded and we got talking. She didn't speak any English and I don't speak Swazi, so we settled on both using our relatively shaky Afrikaans. My Afrikaans is surprisingly good, thanks largely to having spent time outside of Johannesburg where nobody speaks English, as well as being friends with Lara and Jo, and meeting their friends who are almost all afrikaans and tend to forget that I'm not. Afrikaans in Joburg and out of Joburg is remarkably different though, and so I had to struggle to stop using slang, while she kept on throwing in words in other languages. I learned words for crocodile, snake, round rock, peaut and a number of other things. she insisted on leadngme around the outcrop to show me where the lizards live, and I accepted although I know most of the spots, and nothing was moving out there. Once she released me with a ton of directions in case I want to find her again - she wants to help me, and offered the ervices of her children as well, I drove away as quickly as possible to try another site before it got too late.

A few months ago when we were here on the fieldtrip, our honours student and my supervisor had found another new site that, by all accounts was fantastic. I had been avoiding it because it involved climbing a rather tall, barbed-wire fence, but decided to go for it. The outcrop is huge, and surrounded by plants with stinging hairs that I'm still trying to remove from my arms and legs and back... I explored all over the place before deciding that it ws a crappy location that only had skinks and geckos and Gerrosaurus and basically every cool lizard except the ones I was looking for. On the way back I spotted a lovely male though and stopped to try and get him. Unfortunately he hid halfway up a cliff.

I had all my equipment, except for the cooler bag for blood samples, in a backpack, so I climbed up after him, and ended up chading him around and around the stupid cliff until I cornered him in exactly the same place I had first spotted him. So I set traps as well as I could on a sheer rock face, and then managed to cahse him onto one. So I was standing on a tiny ledge, halfwy up a cliff, with a lizard on a glue-trap. Oops. I'm not qute sure how someone like me who is a)clumsy and b) scared of heights stayed so calm. But i pulled him off the trap, got the blood sample stuff out of various pockets, pressticked a sample tube to the rock, took a sample, cleaned him off and bagged him and somehow climbed back down with a blood sample in one hand and a lizard bag in the other. I had to calm down and have a water break at the bottom, but I managed!

And for the record, I tried to work with him when I got back, and he is a complete and utter brat! He almost escaped, and had me running all over the place after him!

So today was a day of firsts, I had a succesful, although painfully long, discussion in Afrikaans, went rock climbing, did my first extreme lizard sampling (should make it a sport...), oh and when I got back I did my first long hike of the trip, to check out some old sites on the farm.

Something tells me I'll be sleeping very well tonight!

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!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Weird days and weirder dreams

I woke up today to see that it was cold and cloudy. So I went back to sleep. Half an hour later I got up anyway and decided to get some work done, as well as some necessary housework, washing dishes, sweeping floors, washing out showers and so on (wow I sound so domesticated!). For the first part of the morning it was as if the farm was messing with me. The sun would come out, and I'd rush and pack for the field, then it would get overcast and cold really quickly. Finally, only about an hour after the time I usually leave for the field I decided to just go on and try catch lizards. I was going crazy!

So I went off to one of the biggest outcrops on the farm, where a friend and I once caught something like 12 male lizards in a day (8 in the mornng and 4 in the afternooon). I stayed there for about 3 hours before it got really cold. It had been sort of on-and-off all morning, but I'd managed to get a bit sunburned and have a nasty fall that left me shaking. I twisted my wrist a little bit but it seems t be ok. I'll strap it up before bed and it'll be as good as new by tomorrow. I caught one male, out of all 2 that I saw (seriously, did they all die or something? this is ridiculous!) I also caught an adult Gerrhosaurus validus which was unbelievably cute! I was going to bring him back to photograph him, but decided not to. Kind of an act of good faith to the lizard population or something. Besides, he was so scared! They have really big eyes, and I think the Mickey-mouse syndrome part of me responds to that!

After that I came back to the house and was planning on going off to scout out a few other locaions but it got super cold then so I figured it was pointless. I took my usual after-lunch nap instead where I had the craziest dream! It was about the zoo again, for some reason I've been havng a lot of zoo-related dreams lately, often involving non-zoo friends of mine. Weird. I was also relieved to find out that the Protest March was relatively uneventful, as I'd been worrying about my friends who were taking part.

After that I did the final measurements on some of the lizards I'd caught. It's called 'speccing' them, which basically means that I measure their colours. I've been speccing a lot of lizards for other people recently because colour is what I'm really really into,so its become kind of annoying for me. Which has been incredibly sad. I remember the day I learned to use a spec, my friend Dee and I ran all over the place finding random stuff to measure (Laura's collection of birthday cards being a huge contributor!) and I was so excited. It's sad when you lose the fun part of something you love.

Maybe it had something to do with the fact that I was speccing my lizards again, or maybe it was because I was listening to Silverchair (thanks Travis!) while I was doing it, but I really enjoyed speccing the lizards again! I'm so glad, and Im feeling so positive about everything suddenly. Im not sure why. But I'm really glad!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

woe is me

I've had a bad day in the field. A really bad day. I don't want to talk about it.

Now it's cold and I want to go to bed, but it's only 7:30 and I've started having trouble sleeping. I think I've been sleeping too much. I want to go home now!

But I really hate the idea of going home empty handed. And as I'm staing here for free, and hardly driving much, it's not costing me anything to keep trying.

Keep on trying...

I was watching the Long Way Down with Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman just now. I got the DVD while I was in the UK. it makes me want to travel, and at the same time makes me incredibly sad that I will probably never be able to do a trip like that because: a) as a girl, travelling alone is really dangerous. so much so that you can't get a visa for a lot of African countries if you're a girl travelling alone; b) I don't know anyone crazy enough to do a trip like that with me. c) I don't have 3 months free and d) I'm not famous, so probably couldn't get the sponsorship and equipment for a trip like that unless I saved up until I was 90. And as a 90 year old I probably would be ill-advised to take a trip like that.

I'm also sad that they hardly get to see any of South Africa. I'm excited that they went down the west coast, and I'm hoping I'll recognise some of the places when they get there, but I think they missed out on some of the really beautiful places south africa has to offer. They also didn't recognise Chad as it's own country.

And they didn't go to Mali! Why does nobody ever want to go there? I'd love to go there! And Malawi, nd Kenya and Tanzania and Namibia and Botswana... and before all the violence I really wanted to go to Chad. Oh well.

More than anthing I'd love to go to Moambique and then down, around the coastline up to the skeleton coast and then across the desert on a quad bike. Anyone keen?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

random thoughts

It is currently almost 9:30pm, which is later than I've been up since I got to the field (the stress of packing usuall leads to insomna, ,whch in the case was over the course of about 2 weeks, so I've been catching up on a lot of sleep). As is I'm exhausted, so this will be completely incoherent unless I take the easy option and write down a list of random thoughts. Hopefully this will stop them rushing around my head and let me sleep easier (like that's a problem!).

  1. I hate the fact that I have to proofread my posts now. I just can't type properly on a laptop! I do something between -finger hunt and peck and touch typing, enough that I battle if I hurt any finger, but not good enough to type without looking at the keyboard occasionally. And for the record I NEVER use my thumbs for typing. No idea why, I just don't! Not even the spacebar. I just tried and it felt extremely weird.
  2. Trapping is not going well. Besides lack of lizards, lot of the traps are not working, and the glue has solidified. As i don't generally feel traps before setting them, I believe that this has had a very big effect on my entire lack of success over the last 2 days.
  3. It's getting colder by the day and I woke up to fog and rain this morning. It cleared up, but I'm very worried!
  4. I went for a walk about an hour ago and it was really beautiful. I used to walk every night but haven't on this trip. I didn't go far because I didn't want to, and its cold and I heard a leopard. I realised how incredibly lucky I am to have this place as my home for a few months every year. To surprise random antelope, or have to chase off baboons, or run from a potential leopard, sounds like I'm living in one of those cheesy books about 'Africa' except that I don't have 40 dedicated servants to carry my things. And I don't wear a pith helmet.
  5. The water-pipe to the bathrooms has a leak. Not a problem really as I only use te outside bathroom to shower, so I just turn it on when I need to. Fortunately the main house has an un-interrupted water supply. Weird because I thought all the water was controlled from there, but aparently not. The only mystery greater than the plumbing in this place is the electricity!
  6. I almost ran out of leftovers today, so I will have to cook tomorrow night. I tend to cook big meals and live off them for days. The problem is that I only really have enough groceries to make one mega-huge meal to last 4-5 days. I havae plenty after that but not if I want to eat properly - and in long-term fieldwork eating properly (I'm talking tons of fruit and veg and protein etc) is super-important if you don't want to flake out in the middle of the day. I just don't want to go shopping until I've made a decision about how long I'm going to stay here.
  7. I'm really really tired. Which makes no sense. I understand about catching up on sleep, but going to bed before 9 every night, getting up around 7ish, working in the field until lnchtime and then napping for a few hours when I get back... it's ridiculous!
  8. I have a lot of work to do. Analyses, write-ups etc. While I'm not processing lizards in the afternoons (as I have no lizards to process. Correction, I have 2) I should be making headway into the workload. I'd better start on that soon.
  9. It's a full moon tonight. It's so bright outside you can see every blade of grass, every stone, everything! It's really amazing!
  10. I was sitting outside just now adn bats were swooping around me eating the inects that were attracted to the lights from the house. It happens every time, and every time it's awesome!
  11. I miss the students and the people who were here last time.
  12. I don't miss being surrounded by people.
  13. I don't understand how I can be so antisocial and still miss people. When they are around I spend half my time trying to avoid them and get some time alone.
  14. I really need to get some sleep.
  15. Good night!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

On the road again...

So I'm back in the field. And it's weird. It's not like I haven't been here recently, I came here on a field trip with a bunch of students for a week in late March. It was weird then, but a different weird. I was freaked out by seeping in a different bed, by going to 'my' outcrops with other people, by seeing people do things differently or use things differently to what I'm used to.

But this time it was back to normal. And exactly how normal it feels is what is weird. It was nice driving down. As the unversity managed to lose my vehicle for a bit (apparently it is entirely possible to lose a giant doeble-cab 4x4) I ended up staying home for an extra night, which was good as our maid (I really love Gertrude, I just don't always understand her) had unpacked my bags and washed all my clean clothes again. It was nice because I didn't have to arrive in the dark, and I got to see my dad when he got home from living overseas for 6 weeks. It was nice to take my time, to not have to freak out about roadblocks, to decide when to take a break, and if it was really appropriate to stop for lunch at 11:30 am (yes, it was).

When I got to Nelspruit (the nearest inhabited area, it's not a town, but not quite a city either), I was stunned by how automatically I drove to the shops that I always went to - you have to take an un-signposted slipway - parked in the same area as always, talked to the same carguard (Vincent is a total legend!) and walked through the Spar buying almost exactly what I always used to buy. I nearly had a breakdown when I realised that it might no be gemsquash season, and I might have to change my lunch routine, and I was ridiculously happy when I found the offending vegetables.

Getting to the farmhouse felt like coming home. It was really strange. I unpacked everything into the same places, set up on my old bed and felt like I'd never left. It helped that the place is really clean, there have been a lot of visitors lately, plus the next-door neighbour (he lives about 15 km away) has organised for his son to live here as a care-taker whenever the nature-conservation anti-poaching people aren't camping in the front garden. I settled down outside on the verandah on the same chair I always sit on with a drink (blue cream soda. If you know me you'll know why I picked that one! And for the record, in theory it's a great idea. In practice it tastes revolting) and watched the duikers running around the garden.

In the morning I rushed off to catch lizards t find out that they were nowhere to be seen. After hiking all over one of the biggest outcrops on the farm and only catching one out of a potential 3 lizards I came back for lunch and went to sleep. I can't trap in the afternoons anyway, but I wouldn't have had much success anyway, it was getting cold from quite early on.

Right now I've set up my computer somewhere different to usual - only by about 2m from usual, but I felt the need to shake things up a bit! I've made enough dinner to live off the leftovers for quite a while, and I'm about to settle down, watch a DVD, wash up, and go to bed.

Like always.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Sad times

So I had a fantastic time in Jersey, only had one day of rain (which was a bit miserable) and went all over the place, seeing tons of the place. I think I saw moer of the island in the first 2 days than my mother had done in a 2 week visit! It was hard work though!

The scary thing is that somewhere that small (the distance across the island is roughly the sanme distance as what I drive to get to university every day) has almost 110 geocaches! The other scary thing is that they were remarkably difficult to find, often involving climbing cliffs or racing off to castles and towers trying to beat the tide back! I will post a bunch of photos and stories soon! I was planning on doing that here, but I just realised that the photos are on my laptop and I'm currently working on my desktop, so that might not work... the stories are far better with pictures!

I got home on Wednesday morning, right before a long weekend, collapsed for a few hours and then had to rush in to do some admin before everything closed down for the holiday. My car wouldn't start and I had to buy a new battery, so I was in a pretty awful mood by the time I got in. There I got some terrible news from Luke.

Josh, the baby chimpanzee at the zoo, was attacked by the males and had been rushed off to hospital. Luke was in complete shock, I hadn't slept in a few days and was also wandering around in a dream world and Elaine was rushing around organising people to take over Althea's other monkeys so that she could stay with him.

I spent the following day with Thandi, the mandril and helped out with her as much as possible. Ollie, the spider-monkey went off to a babysitter for the long weekend - he's a lot easier to handle than she is!

She's really cool though and we get a long well. To tell the truth I never really got alnog with Josh, as much as I really did like spending time with him. That doesn't mean that I wasn't really upset that he was attacked, or when he died the next morning. I just found myself really worried about everyone who was close to Josh, who was devastated.

Althea vanished completely and we had no idea where she was or how she was doing. It's understandable, he was her baby after all, but at the same time it's incredibly frustrating when you know that someone you care about it having a really hard time but there's nothing you can do! A lot of people who were close to Josh weren't even told about the situation until a few days alter. Not because they weren't appreciated but because everyone was so wrapped up in their own shock over what had happened. Luke was very promptly 'looked after' by everyone around. I think he went to several hundred movies with concerned friends (me included).

So anyway that was the hectic week back. I'm waiting for a meeting now and then I'm hoping to go and see Thandi and Oliver again. This whole thing has made me very worried about their future! when Josh's intro seemed to have been a success I wasn't really stressed, but now I'm worrying about where the other two will be introduced and how it'll work out.

Here's Luke and Oliver, just to complete the monkey collection!

I'm sorry about the 'bit and pieces' nature of this post. It started a while ago and then I saved a draft and forgot about it. I'm not sure how to deal with Josh, so I'm not sure how else to write about him.
He used to fall asleep while the other chimps were around and then he'd wake up and panic and run off to rejoin the group. He was afraid of climbing. He loved anything sugary. He adored cucumber and beans. He was fascinated by shoes. When I stopped him from weating broken glass he decided that he hated me, but if I hung upside down from his jungle gym he would run over and stroke my face and try to figure out what my hair was.
He was a very special little ape. And he will be missed. A lot. I just hope that people remember all the happy times he ahd and the fun he had, not just the little chimp on a stretcher that was published in the newspaper on Thursday.