Saturday, May 30, 2009

Civilisation - where you have to tie your shoelaces so that people don't give you funny looks

So, I figured I might as well mention, that as of tomorrow evening I will be finished here! For now anyway. And so, on Monday, after I release the last few lizards, make sure the house is as clean as it's going to get and pile all my stuff in the car, I will be heading back to Joburg!

And of course, as it's the thing that's been driving me for the last week or two, I'm beginning to reach the phase where I don't really want to go home. Its much like the way I don't really want to come here - I moan and gripe and fuss and delay, and then as soon as I get here it feels like I've come home and I slip right back into my old routine - life in the big city seems like a weird memory! When I get home, being here is kind of like a weird memory. Like a dream or something.

So I try to focus on what I've missed - people (the only conversation I've had in the last two weeks has been with a sympathetic pharmacist when I was sick), being able to buy something when I want it, and not wait for my bimonthly shopping trip, a hot bath (that's number one on my list of priorities for when get home!), not being sunburned and covered in dirt and scratches all the time. There's also the gym - I like having a treadmill to run on because it's nice and flat, the hills here are way too much for me! Decent coffee is also right up there, although I admit I'm not really missing it as much as usual. Not having my life ruled by the weather. Wearing clean clothes every day (I wear my field clothes for at least three days before I wash them, it's disgusting, but considering that I'm filthy within minutes of getting out there, it seems a waste to destroy clean clothes, plus I get to limit the number of outfits I rip or stain or just plain wear out).

At the same time I love the simplicity of fieldwork. To have a single goal (collect x data points) and everything you do revolves around it this time has been amazing because i haven't had any major catastrophes. All of the fieldwork i've been on has had disasters - mole-rats when we couldn't catch enough, Luke's baboon research where we could't find baboons, the other mole-rat trip where they kept dying and f course my fieldwork which began with a rainy season like never before where we wowuld lose weeks at a time to rain. And then of course my two field sessions last year where the drought was so bad that the lizards were either dead or in hiding and I had to drive for up to an hour every day to find sites(including one covered in broken glass and toilet paper on a citrus farm) where I would eke out a few individuals and then trek back home. This time (touch wood)I got my best-case scenario numbers, within my best-case scenario time-frame without lasting injury, besides a certain low-level nausea which I've figured out comes from watching DVDs and playng Spider-solitaire at the same time (gives me motion-sickness, as I discovered last night!).

So maybe my nostalgia is just being compounded by life being generally ok here? I don't know. All I know is that the appeal of having meals cooked for me, taking a hot bath, being able to pick out my shoes based on style, not toughness and grip, hanging out with my friends and sleeping in my own bed is not really weighing up particularly well against the bad parts: traffic, noise, pollution and being surrounded by people all the time.

That said, I should probably go and do laundry so that I don't have to pack dirty clothes next to clean clothes tomorrow!


po said...

Yeah it is tough remembering to tie those shoelaces so people don't look at you funny :)

People look at me funny all the time thought so I am used to it.

I guess you are lucky that you can have both worlds, the quiet peaceful one surrounded by nature,and the hectic fast paced one in the city.

Helen said...

Thanks Po, I am really lucky, it's just hard to keep that in mind sometimes!

Although at least most of my shoes aren't of the lace-up variety, saves on having to remember...

sarah said...

but congrats on a job well done!!! yeah!