Tuesday, June 26, 2012

And we're off

This will be my last post for a bit, but hopefully I’ll be full of good stories from our trip to the mountains when we return 10 days from now. 

The great Mahale Expedition of 2012 starts tomorrow, and I AM EXCITED!!!

Yesterday we learned that in addition to the Very Poisonous/Deadly water cobra, we also need to be on the lookout for crocodiles and hippos when we’re there, so here’s hoping there will BE a next post ;).

We’ve spent the last 2 days packing and repacking and sorting through the old gear, and sometimes I swear all we do is haul Ridiculously Heavy Stuff from one location to another. There have been numerous snafus in the past 48 hours, but there are a couple worthy of note.

At the end of the field season, we store our boat motors in at a Top Secret Location, since they’re singlehandedly the most expensive (read: most theft-worthy) pieces of equipment we own. So under the cover of darkness, we go on a reconnaissance mission to collect them when we first arrive in Kigoma. This year we had the key to the door but NOT the key we needed to unchain them from each other.

Those keys were with Ben. 

Ben, if you’ll remember, is still in Dar es Salaam.

So at 3am yesterday morning, Ben was tasked with finding the Least Sketchy Kigoma-bound passenger at the airport, approaching them, assessing worthiness and willingness, giving them our keys, and flying them to us in Kigoma.

So many of the things we do here would never fly in the US. But whatever. We got the keys, and we now have our motors. 

This is probably the second-most disgusting cat I've ever seen. And it likes to wait for me outside my room. Ew.
I know I've complained a fair bit about how bad the food is in East Africa. The fruit and veggie spread, however, is AMAZING. My current favorite sando-combo is avacado-cucumber-banana on bread.
Today there’s a HUGE storm on the lake and we never got to take the (leaky, old) boats for a test run as planned. Given what I already mentioned about the variety of things in the water ready to kill us, I’m not super excited that we don’t have great vessels to keep us out of the water. 

The storm (CLIMATE CHAOS, people! This is not typical weather…) also made packing up George’s boat (the Maji Makubwa (“Big Water” in Swahili)) pretty difficult tonight. But as of now, someone (?!) is sleeping on the boat with half of our gear while the other half will travel via another boat and head out in the morning. The crew will travel by truck to some arranged location and then it’s all speedboat from there to Mahale (honestly I’m hazy on all of the details, which I don’t really want/need to know). 

After the craziness of the last few days, I’m kind of excited for a long drive with a good book and good company.

So, friends, I hope to have updates post-trip, so stay tuned. 



  1. Why didn't I stow myself away in all of your gear?? I'm loving all of your stories and you're giving me a serious case of the 'I wanna do cool field work with Ellen's! Have a great trip!
    xx libby.

  2. Have an amaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaazing time!!!!!!

  3. Enjoy and take care in your next adventure! Best regards to everybody Ellen! :)