I have finally started working on my samples. So what do I do? Its gross. I look at gorilla poop under the microscope and identify certain eggs and worms for the species. That part is kind of cool. I spent all last semester on parasitology and certain those of you can sympathize with that statement… It was such a hard class, I barely passed, even thought I failed it. But I did learn something because I am able to run these tests by myself, and ID some of the eggs which is pretty cool!! It always feels good when something from school can be used in the real world, and its not just a waste of money 🙂 So for the past few days I wake up and get breakfast, and then go to the lab for the morning until lunch time. Then weather pending I will go back to the lab to run more samples. It can take anywhere from 1-3 hours per sample. Today my dad asked me if I liked it, and if it was similar to my lab experience in New Hampshire. I dont like it as much as my lab experience in NH. But when I find a new egg that I can ID, it is exciting. While Im working I listen to music and when I am really bored of looking at the sample, I turn the music off, walk outside and sit in front of the mountains. They are the same mountains everyday but they are beautiful mountains. Then I get back to work because in the end that is what I am here for.
Some of the troubles Ive encountered in my work: solar power doesnt always work… The microscope doesnt have a measuring tool, the freezer dies sometimes, and last weekend it rained so much, I couldnt do anything or go anywhere and I was definitely depressed.
What have I learned from this? I am in a third world country. I have to work with what I have. I dont have running water so I have to wash my equipment in buckets. I can only work when there is enough power. I take my time off to read books or look at the mountains. Another example: The other day, Stephen and I went to pick up some fecal samples that a ranger collected, and they werent labeled. When we asked the ranger why they werent labeled, he said that these sample cups didnt have paper labels and he only had a pen to write with. He didnt have any markers. A third example: I overheard a woman talk about a workshop the rangers attended to learn how to input data into a program. She said it was ridiculous to teach some of them how to use a computer software when some of them cant read. But they are the best trackers to find the gorillas on time. So what can I do about it but learn from it and enjoy what I can.
When the rain let up yesterday, I quickly changed and went for a run because I needed out of my tent. I met so many people on the road who were happy to be out, and all smiled and waved at me. It boosted my spirits a lot.
In the meantime, I am trying to learn Rujiga which is the local language, I am writing down my thoughts, and taking pictures.
This bird is my buddy. He lives near our camp, and has one foot. I know its him even without seeing his feet because he wabbles a bit like a baby learning to walk! He comes and sits on the railing and sometimes talks to me. If he can live life without a foot, I can survive in a third world country for another month.
Also, in case you didnt know, I am in the southern hemisphere, just below the equator!!! It was obvious to me when I was in South Africa that I was below the equator but I am almost on the line, which I think is pretty cool!