Tuesday, July 7, 2009

My parents are worried

Most of my posts lately have been downers, so much so that my parents
(who read my blog) sent me an email suggesting Jon try to change his
ticket to stay longer or that I change my ticket to come home sooner.
Things really aren't that bad, so Jon suggested that I write a post
emphasizing the good things. So, in this post I'm going to highlight
all of the things that are going well.

We made some significant improvements to the house at Nyota. I have a
bed (with three mattresses), cotton sheets, pillows, and a mosquito
net. My room has a new lock on the door, curtains, a light bulb, and
no broken windows. Soon I'll be able to lock the closet. We have an
electric kettle and a hot plate for the kitchen. We have a cook and
cleaner who does laundry and cooks 3 meals per day for us. All of the
sockets now have light bulbs. The electric outlets were changed so I
can plug in my power strip without an adapter. We rearranged the
furniture in the living room and it's more inviting. The water has
been running every day for at least part of the day, and we have a
shower now (albeit a cold one). Two friendly dogs like to hang out
around the house.

In spite of my anxiety about it, my data collection is going well. My
field assistants are finishing data collection at a handful of sites
while I'm gone. When I return, we'll start on some new sites. I should
be able to finish all of my data collection with 7-10 days to spare.
I'm excited about this because it means I should definitely have time
to try some lower-priority things.

Not very much is known about the life history or phenology of many
organisms here, which can make it difficult to plan fieldwork. I
thought that one of my organisms would be doin' its thing in January
or February, but it turns out it might actually do it in the next
month or so. This presents an opportunity that I hadn't expected to
have. I might be able to try even more of the new methods than I
originally thought, and may even be able to set up an experiment that
I didn't think I could.

I haven't had any significant weight loss or gain. This is good. I was
pretty sure that I'd put on about 10 pounds here because I tend to
gain weight when I travel, but I'm walking so much here that then I
was a little worried about losing weight. I'm eating a lot, though, so
I seem to be holding steady. My pants feel about the same as they did
when I got here.

I haven't had any significant poison tree rash breakouts in weeks now.
The worst was definitely the week before and after Jon arrived. Jon
got just scratch-shaped rash on his arm. I had some on my face, but it
was very mild and didn't itch (it was red and bumpy though). I think
the IvyBlock is really working, and I'm being careful about covering
up in field, washing up after, and washing my hands if I touch my gear
after I get home. I've just had a few little spots here and there.

On a much broader positive note, it's great to be an American
traveling abroad with Barack Obama as president. People here love to
talk about him. There are quite a few Obama campaign stickers on cars
here, and more than a few buses named for him. Today we even saw "Yes
we can" translated into Ukenzagapese on a bus. When I studied abroad
in college, my classmates and I often lied to people on the street
about where we were from. Americans weren't very popular in many
places during Bush's tenure. It's refreshing to have a president that
I'm proud of.

Jon and I left Nyota and are traveling for a week before he returns to
Big City. It's exciting to see some other places in the region. It's
beautiful and we're having a great time traveling, even when it takes
longer than it's supposed to. I'm going to queue up a few posts
because I'm not sure how much I'll be online for the next few days.

Jon is leaving in a week and then I'll have one month left in
Ukenzagapia before returning to Big City on August 14. I'm more than
halfway through my first field season. Time flies!

1 comment:

Alexandra said...

Well! That was much better and doesn't sound like everything is going so horribly now. It is easy to get down when things don't go right, or when you lose something, or when your body is sick. I'm glad you have a nice home environment now and are taking some time to relax with Jon.