Thursday, October 27, 2011

On thieves and plans

When we have to leave research equipment in the field, we use a cable lock to secure it around a tree. These types of locks are not common (or available at all, as far as I know) in Ukenzagapia, and B and T covet them for locking their motorbikes. They asked what these locks are used for in the U.S. I said some people use them on bicycles, but you can't use it on a bike in Big City because people will just come and cut it to steal the bike.

T, after a brief reflection, made a keen observation.

"I think, in Ukenzagapia, the thieves are many, but the plan is small. And in America, the thieves are few, but the plan is big."

Keeping your belongings, I've learned, is largely about preventing crimes of opportunity because, as T so nicely put it, "the plan is small". People don't have bolt cutters or hacksaws. If you make it difficult to steal something, they might try and fail, but they generally won't go out of their way to do it.

All that said, people do have machetes. I don't know what exactly happened or how much planning was involved, but this week we discovered that some of our equipment was stolen. They cut through one of the cable locks and in another case broke the equipment to steal it because they failed to break the cable. I have a glimmer of hope that we might be able to recover some or all of it, but I'm not holding my breath.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Just keep swimming...

In spite of living alone this time, I still haven't had much urge to blog. I think I'm getting a lot of my thoughts out on facebook instead. I have less than 3 weeks left in Ukenzagapia! This is it! The end of my field work! I see the light at the end of the tunnel!

It's been a good trip so far. I've had some exciting discoveries (natural history observation type discoveries) that will probably turn into a few minor publications. The electricity has been, dare I say it?- excellent. The weather? Pretty crazy, but I was gone for most of the craziness. I met up with another UBC student and we traveled a bit- kind of a biologist's pilgrimage :-) It was fantastic!

Sam is always thinking of new things for me to do, including setting up a pilot project for a grant of his. I've become the de facto manager for this project because I'm here. Thankfully, I just found a way to simplify the gargantuan task he saddled me with. So, things are rolling along. I'm not panicking yet.