May 16th, 2011
I am at the Buhoma Rest Camp and it is pouring buckets of rain, the hardest I have seen it come down yet. I had to move my table in from the ledge about 20 feet up, practically to the bar because of the wind. I met the actual conservation area manager (CAM), Pontious today. He is lovely and hilarious. Pontious and Gessa told me that I should not go back to Oxford and I should stay here. And there is too much work for me to do. I told them if I could live in one of the luxury lodges it is a deal! They are going to email me their research priorities, just in case for a PhD. I hung out at Gorilla Forest Camp (GFC) this morning and Ian fed me. I saw all these green round fruits, maranthas. I thought the gorillas would love those and while I was thinking that walking to the bathroom right near the “toilet” sign were heaps of gorilla dung. I could see nuts or large seeds in them, so it is true they are seed dispersers very important to the rainforest habitat!
One of the maranthas fruits remaining on the GFC lodge path.
Maranthas seeds within gorilla dung.
I then heard them screaming and barking all morning with the UWA staff. They were above GFC eating and it took UWA staff a good four hours to ‘haze’ them down away from the GRC staff tents. I never managed to see them but heard screaming from everyone all morning. I will wait my turn. I have a tourist trek with Rushegura group on Thursday but tomorrow I meet a lot of the guides and trackers that will probably let me join them 7am every morning beginning Wednesday. Tomorrow I am giving them a talk on my work and we will try to figure out a schedule for me to come with them to identify animals and collect fresh saliva from their vegetation. I will be going with their ‘advanced’ team that carries out treks before the tourists to make sure the area is safe and that they know where the gorillas are for the tourists. UWA staff also block them from leaving to the Congo; apparently they are always trying to get to the Congo just three kilometres away. ‘Advanced’ treks have ensured that tourists have had almost a 100% sighting record. I will probably have to go every day for my whole time here to get all the individual samples we want. It is going to be intense, especially when it pours down tropical rains like just now. It should be interesting and I’m not in the best shape of my life either. I am so excited though, it will be worth the pain!
Young Lohest monkey hanging around Gorilla Forest Camp Lodge.
If the rain stops I will head to the orphanage again. I do spend all my free time there because there are always mzungus and I love the kids. Alexander is really nice, one of the first orphans and he helps manage and present the dances to the tourists. I am making friends with everyone there, in town, and the lodges. I think I will know everyone in a month. Kids like to walk me between Buhoma and Bwindi, which is up to an hour. It is really sweet.
Bwindi orphanage dance that takes place everyday at 5pm.
Young girl at orphanage watching the dance ceremony.
Children playing with a wooden scooter in the center of Bwindi.
I think my tolerance with bugs is lower than the past. I hate them, well besides the baby grasshopper that jumped into my hand out of nowhere today and hopped all over me for an hour. My favorite thing to do is take a shower! Another irritating thing is that two days ago Alexis got two bags, clothes, and some sneakers stolen. It really is a shame because she is here doing something for the community, something really amazing. Alexander was saying people just don’t know that, they are ignorant and just see mzungus as money. This is starting to get old everywhere I go in the world, especially when I have a serious amount of university debt. It is a real shame people are robbing the ones that are trying to help. Knowing that someone has been creeping around our tents does not help me with the strange and random noises I hear at night. I hate going to the toilet (bathroom- I’m in the habit of writing British style for grad school and Uganda) in the night, it is awful! I think this owl hangs out near my tent and the other night I think a goat came into my wash bathroom area. This sounds funny but I hear it and it could be anyone from the village since we are right along the road. Someone come visit me, I have a spare single bed in my tent. No but other than these few things, I love this experience. I guess hard work does pay off.
Also Alexis and I secretly want to adopt Simon from the CTPH staff even if he is 20 years old. We love him. He just does the sweetest things. “Would you care to take a shower?” “Umm what time is it?” “7:30am” “No thank you.” Or “you are going to have to move to another tent.” “Why?” “Because it is falling down.” You just have to meet him.
I miss a lot of wonderful people especially since I haven’t been to the U.S. in almost a year. I am hoping to get some data analysis done here and make some time to visit my brother Phil and his girlfriend Anne in Paris. I so badly need to go to France.
Missing you all. Mbasiisire mwena.