Tuesday, April 26, 2011

End of season

My gosh. I think the past 3 months might have been the busiest 3 months of my life as I crammed in a crazy amount of field work. I feel like nearly every post I've written from the field this time has said this, but I've gotta say it again. I've gotten SO much better at everything related to doing research in Ukenzagapia. Everything! This was my best field season yet. I've set up a management system for Sam's project that I'm involved in, and I think things will keep running without me. My field assistants got a lot more computer practice, and will be emailing photos every month of the data sheets (for 4 different projects- 2 of which are wholly mine and 2 that aren't) before they can get paid.

My last two days in Nyota were run on very little sleep, some caffeine, and a lot of adrenaline. I had to prep tons of data sheets for while I'm gone and pack & inventory all of my supplies and equipment. My housemate Cam will be in Nyota until August, leaving shortly before I return in August. This works out perfectly for me and so I left nearly everything at the house in Nyota this time, and some clothes at my American friend's house in the city. As a result, I'm going home with 1 bag nearly empty and the only reason it isn't empty is because I'm bringing home stuff for Cam.

Unfortunately, my last night in the country was marred by robbery. I was walking back from the grocery store with Cam in the wealthy mostly expat neighborhood where my friend lives when a car suddenly pulled up very close and slowed down just enough to grab my bag through the window. Stupidly, I didn't let go because I didn't want the bastards to take my bag on principle, and so I got pulled to the ground when they sped away and dragged a short distance before the bag strap broke. I had my phone in my pocket and Cam carried the money in his, so the only thing they got was less than $30 worth of groceries. I hope they were sorely disappointed by their takings. The neighborhood is generally safe, but there are a few things I should have done differently. First of all, I should not have used a reusable grocery bag to carry my groceries. It was a cloth bag that obviously looked like a purse. Secondly, Cam probably should have carried the bag instead of me. He is much larger, though it might not have made a difference. Thirdly, I should not have been carrying the bag on my streetside shoulder. It made it so easy for them to grab. It happened so fast that I didn't even have time to shout and the only thing I thought was, "Don't take my bag you #@$%ers!" Neither Cam nor I got so much as a glimpse of the license plate. I got some nice road rash on my arm and my hip, which put a hole in my pants and my underwear. I was shaken up my it and I'm kind of sore, but all things considered it wasn't a huge deal. They didn't take much of value and I didn't get that hurt.

This departure from Ukenzagapia was more emotional than the others. I'm also probably more exhausted than I've ever been. I'm really becoming attached to Nyota, and now that the end is in sight with just one more trip, I'm thinking about what it means to wrap this up. I'm overflowing with gratitude for the people who have helped me tremendously, like my American friend and my taxi driver Violet. Furthermore, this is the longest that Jon and I have gone without seeing each other since 2004 and I'm so excited to see him again. Yesterday was our second anniversary and in those two years, we have spent 10 months apart. That's far too long. Thankfully, I have an incredibly patient and supportive husband.

I'm halfway home on my layover in Europe. I thought I'd be able to go to the first aid station and get some antibiotic ointment and new medical tape to bandage my wounds, but it turns out they won't help you until your fork over at least $40 for a consultation, so I just washed up in a handicapped restroom and will make do until I get home. Home. Home. HOME! I'm going home.


Alyssa said...

So glad you had a great field season! That's too bad it ended with the robbery, but at least they only got groceries. YAY for heading home!

VJ-Writes said...

that must have been scary! but on the other hand the feeling to have done what you wanted to for this trip must be great...have a safe trip home:)