Today I had a meeting with another grad student who also works in Ukenzagapia. We spent most of the time talking about how I actually get the permits in hand to do my research. All I have to do is go to four different offices in two different cities that are 9 hours apart. Then I can go to my field site and start doing work- hopefully. We'll see how this goes. Surprisingly, the meeting left me optimistic that I actually might get my permits this summer.
We also talked about practicalities such as which cell phone company to go with and which hotels and internet cafes to visit. The best advice I got from her was to buy a receipt book to keep track of purchases that wouldn't normally provide a receipt. I never would've thought of this myself.
I've been vegetarian for the past 6.5 years (oh my gosh, has it really been this long?) with some flexitarianism during other international travels. I didn't have a sense of how easy it would be to stay veg in Ukenzagapia but the grad student said she has no trouble (although she does bring many Clif bars for times when biscuits just won't do it). I think I'll just listen to my body. If I'm getting really hungry and there aren't any non-meat protein options I'll eat meat. I'll also eat meat if I'm served it as a guest, or if I try to order something without meat and they serve me something with meat broth anyways.
I had lunch with Leo today after getting all the useful tips above. I told him I wasn't going to try to catch critters this summer because I thought the most I could hope for would be identifying sites if I even get my permits at all. He thought I should at least try if I do get the permits, so I'm taking some of his equipment to catch critters. This is going to make my bags heavier than I'd hoped, but if things go according to plan I'll be able to get some (more?) data this way.
I didn't quite get my budgeting done yet and I haven't done any more packing. My family is coming to visit tomorrow and I leave on Sunday! I'm so excited!