Why not start my 2013 field blog with a Barry Manilow reference (it just feels right given the title, ignoring the content; I have no idea what that song’s about…)?
We. Are. HERE!!
It’s been 10-ish days since leaving Madison, and after months of preparation-related stress and daydreaming about being someplace else, I’m finally back on the shores of the lake I’ve thought about daily since I left last August.
|It's a wee bit hazy since we're deep into the dry season, but she's still a sight for sleep-deprived, sore eyes.|
It’s oh, so good to be here.
We’ve jumped right into the business of collecting data for what looks to be the last year of the Lake Tanganyika Ecosystem Project. Work-specific blogs are forthcoming, but I’ll start at the beginning, with the journey and the story of how we got here.
Getting to Kigoma is Not Easy. This year’s travel adventure involved:
* a 3-hour minivan ride to Chicago with Pete and 3 generations of his family (during which time my bladder nearly burst). Pete may or may not have sat on the floor of said minivan due to a seat shortage;
* 24-ish hours in the air/moving zombie-like through airports (and watching more in-flight movies in 2 sittings than I’d previously watched in the entire year leading up to this trip). FYI: Django Unchained is worth a watch;
* 2 lazy days in Dar es Salaam (eating good food, hitting the fish market, befriending an eccentric photographer, and getting the 2nd best massage of my life);
|In case you're in the market for half a shark's head, I might know a guy...|
|The underside of a guitarfish is very awesome!|
* one more flight to Kigoma on a plane that was probably brand new circa 1970 (complete with an ash tray in the arm rest). The inflight meal consisted of 2 stale buns, and my heart almost broke when I realized there was no jelly.
|There was no stopover in Mwanza this year, home of Lake Victoria and these nasty-ass Nile perch. This is the biggest one I've ever seen, and it smelled terrible. You never know what you'll see in the Dar es Salaam fish market...|
* upon landing, Pete being swiftly whisked away to the immigration office with local authorities because he didn’t have a residence permit (due to a clerical error last year, mine was accidentally renewed an extra year, so I flew under the radar this time…)
But we got here with all (ALL!!!) of our luggage, and big hugs and the smiling faces of the friends we left behind last summer greeted us upon arrival.
Joining us this year are a couple of Pete’s buddies from grad school and a professional photographer from the States who are here to make a website about the project. It works in my favor since it keeps Pete occupied and I have time for other pursuits, scholarly and otherwise (Swimming! Napping! Submitting revisions to a manuscript One Entire Week before deadline! Woohoo!!).
I think my body is finally adjusting to this time zone (Madison + 8, by the by), and my guts are getting used to the daily consumption of ridiculous quantities of beans. Slowly but surely we’re finding our rhythm, and it’s time to get to work!