Tuesday, May 12, 2009

It's May, I'm sunburned, wtf?

Yesterday was kind of frustrating with it being so cold and then kind of clearing up enough that I ended up catching a single lizard and then crawling through a dassie-sized hole (dassie!dassie!) under a fence (through mud, might I add) to get to another outcrop, where nothing so much as moved. It was awesome though, I've been wanting to explore the rocks there for ages, and I got to feel like an adventurer too, skulking around on what I presume to be Christo's farm (neighbour, he's nice) waiting for the appearance of the shotgun along with the barking boerboels and the "WAT MAAK JY?"
today has been awesome on several fronts:
1. I figured out which rusty metal thing to poke with a stick tube thing and therefore made the dodgy toilet flush! I had no idea that an influx of water would cause that stench though, so the safe bathroom is still temporarily shut and off limits with all the windows open. If all goes well I will attack it with Domestos in the morning.
2. I caught 3 lizards today which puts me at about 10% of the way there! 10 more good days and a week of measurements after that and I can go home!
3. It was a beautiful day! The birds were singing, there wasn't a cloud in the sky, I didn't run into any snakes, and the zebras were easy to chase off my study site (I have no problem with the giraffe herds, but zebra make me nervous).
4. Gym has paid off, usually the first few days involve lots of sweating, gulping down water and legs burning as I sprint from site to site. Today was remarkably easy - not as much as it usually is at the end of a three-month stint of this, but definitely better than the usual first week that I need to get back into the swing of spending around 8 hours running around on rocks every day.
5. I just had leftovers for dinner. I LOVE leftovers! And it's from the dinner I made last night which came out really well despite my nerves being rather frayed by the possibility of the gas stove exploding at any second!
6. Despite the gas being turned off, somehow the kitchen has hot water, which is weird because it's usually heated by a gas-powered geyser. I'm not complaining at all! No boiling the kettle to wash dishes is always a pro!
On the negative side:
1. Someone is coming here to do some work on Thursday, and the solitude I love so much will be interrupted.
2. I didn't realise how much I was burning today until I got home and took a nap and woke up itching. My face is OK, albeit a bit more freckly than before, but my arms are a rather fascinating shade of maroon. And I totally wore sunblock!
3. I realised this morning that the jackhammers in my head were not the result of the people at the Spar sneaking alcohol into my milk or anything else that I was frantically thinking of to explain my headache. It's the fact that back at the lab I have at least two cups of strong filter coffee a day, added to at least one at home and possible another one or two if I see friends. Can you say caffeine withdrawal? I drifted towards the coffee in the cupboard, but was saved by the fact that there was no power this morning so it wouldn't have done much anyway unless I was really desperate and ate the powder with a spoon. When the power came on a bit later I was able to talk myself out of it by explaining clearly that its mild blend so barely worthy of being called coffee, and that needing the bathroom while out trapping is really not fun. the grass is long, there are ticks everywhere, and the minute peeing behind a bush is called into question i become really girly and throw a drama-queen tantrum (they say you get used to it. I've been camping for most a decade, trust me, men have a much better time and it always sucks). i had some tea and a handful of aspirin and the headache went away.
4. The part of fieldwork I always forget: the itchiness! The shoes I'm not used to hurt my feet for the first few days and a combination of tick-bites (pepper-ticks are out in full force, so watch this space for the great tick-bite fever (again) saga!) despite all of my wily tricks to avoid them, scratches from the thorn bushes and grass stems as well as the usual dirt and grime from lizard-catching mean that I itch like crazy until i shower. and the sunburn means that I can't have a nice hot shower, and it's cold so I cant have a cold shower, which meas I'm stuck with lukewarm which is the least satisfying shower of all. In summer I actually prefer taking cold showers while I'm here, but right now it's not an option unless I intend to be found in a few weeks time, blue and frozen to the floor of the bathroom.
On the plus side (again) I didn't get trail shoes because, while almost worn out, my old ones have a few weeks left in them and I don't ant to get new ones now and then have them wear out on me halfway through my big summer session (a set lasts me about 2 months on average. Merrel's were my favourite but only made 6 weeks before the tread was gone). so I figured I'd dig out my old hiking boots and see how they do. and they're amazing! The ankle support is great, I tripped over a bunch of rocks and my sightly-weak ankle was fine, didn't turn at all! The grip is also really good. the only problem is that I'm not used to shoes rubbing at my ankles and that's a bit sore now, and the fact that they're heavy and so I feel like I'm clumping rather than sneaking up on lizards. Otherwise they're amazing!
My camera not connecting is driving me nuts! when I go home next week I'll reinstall the drivers and see if that helps. I took an awesome (or so it looks of the LCD display) shot of the moonrise last night, although it looks a bit blurry, even with the tripod. I think the moon moves a lot more than we give it credit for!


po said...

Wow! I never realised you were out there alone, and I never realised you went for so long and worked 8 hours outside all day! You must be so fit, I totally admire you.


Helen said...

To be honest, it was only 6 hours today. You know your incantations over test tubes? Try "Please come out of there! I'm not going to hurt you! I just want to take some measurements and I'll feed you and let you go!" while mumbling "why didn't I work on mice? Mice live in labs, there's aircon and plumbing...I hate these little bugg-Oh how adorable he's showing off to his little lizard friends! Climb on the trap! Go on! you can do it! Bugger! I hate you I hate you I hate you!"

And for the record, I'm not as much fit as stubborn, there's no way that a 10 gram little reptile can outsmart me again! Oh wait, yip, he can! As the field season wears on I get less enthusiastic but fitter, it's like it's meant to be!

sarah said...

ahahahaaa helen vs the lizards.

i know who will win!

luke vs monkeys... thats another story. josh was so smart :p

EEbEE said...

I probably shouldn't know this but you apparently get a girls camping wee wee aid thing. It's designed to allow girls to go number one standing up...

may be useful in your situation Helen.

(I work in an office with many girls, they talk about these things...)

Helen said...

Sarah: the monkeys are smart, I would hate to go up against Thandi at a game show... or Gladiator...

EEbEE: I know of them, its kind of like a cardboard funnel? My issue is, well what do you do with it once it's been used? As far as I know they're biodegradable, but you'd have to dig a pretty big hole for it...

Luke said...

Wow! Already 3 lizards! You're totally set! We'll be seeing you soon then...?

Try not to fall down too many hills this time please. If you can avoid crashing the vehicle this time too, I'm sure Herman would appreciate it ;)