Friday, October 31, 2008

Quick Update

Just a quick note on how we are doing.  Krista has started to going into the forest looking for groups of monkeys to study and Jeff has started biking to schools on the drier days. 

Two scary events...One of our friends was chased by a large male baboon.  As she was running from him she fell and dislocated her arm.  The baboon was excited and screaming but stopped chasing her when she fell.  She made it to her house and locked herself inside for 30 minutes until she felt it was safe to come out.  There are baboons all over looking for food here.  They have tried to come into our house multiple times so far but nothing this bad.

Also, Krista's former field assistant was on his way to our house to pay us a visit when a wasp stung him.  It was no big deal until he broke out in hives and his face swelled up!  He was unrecognizable with his face so big.  We rushed to find the nurse.  After a few different shots, the swelling went down and he is now fine.  Still very scary.

Hopefully we can avoid the baboons and wasps.  I'm sure we will be fine...

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

We are in Uganda!

We arrived in Uganda!  We spent the first 4 nights in the capital city, Kampala.  We got a lot of errands done getting a few things we needed before going out to the field station and getting our permits in order.  Jeff says Kampala is wild –  like NYC without the stop signs, traffic lights, or lanes.  If you think that means crazy traffic, it does.  We took boda boda's around a lot at first, which are exciting and terrifying (motorcycles).  Then we switched to mutatus (minivans that get packed with 15 people and are like the local bus system), which are frustrating, slow, a good place for pick-pockets, and cheap. 

Krista was excited to get her fill of good food like yummy Indian food, Kampala's new Mexican restaurant, and some New York style pizza (that Jeff was disappointed by) – lots of good food!!!

We hired a driver to take us to the field station on Friday.  The drive was beautiful!  And bumpy!  Jeff saw his first wild primates on the road as we were driving to the park – baboons.  Once inside the park, we also saw red tails, black and white colobus, and red colobus.  More baboons, too, as they try to steal our food and run into our house.  And there has been a bushbuck (looks a bit similar to a white-tailed deer) hanging out around the house quite a bit. 

When we arrived at the field station, it was raining very heavy, so we had to wait inside the car until it let up, which was over an hour.  By the time we got our bags unloaded inside, it was dark.  We were up late unpacking and de-spider-ing (Jeff is understandably paranoid after his brown recluse incident and there were a lot of spiders under all the furniture).  The next morning, we were exhausted and wanting to sleep in, but there was a knock on the door at 7 am and people kept coming all day long.  So many people came to welcome Krista back.  It was really nice to see everyone.  One guy, Emmanuel, who had done some great drawings as going away gifts for Krista last year, came with a beautiful basket that he had designed for Krista as a welcome back gift.  It has her name woven into it around the top of the lid and the sides of the base.  It is really great!  He also borrowed a picture of Jeff's family and drew it for Jeff as a gift.  Anyway, visitors have continued to stop by over the past several days and it has been fun to catch up.  Also, MANY people wanting jobs.  Krista has done about 15 interviews already with people and more are coming.  She is dying to hire a woman field assistant and two women have come to interview, but they have much less experience.  We'll see…  So many people are in need of jobs, so it is going to be difficult.

Jeff has been traveling around to the local schools meeting headmasters/mistresses and teachers.  On the way back to the field station on one day, Jeff and Elizabeth Ross (the Executive Director of the Kasiisi Project that Jeff is working with) picked up 2nd graders walking home after their half days at school.  When we stopped, there seemed to be about 5 students wanting a ride but more popped out of the forest.  About 15 packed into the second and third row of the SUV.  Almost spontaneously, they busted out in an English song they learned a few months ago.  They would sing one verse in English and then the second verse in their local language.  Every few hundred feet, someone in the back would yell "stop" and we would let some out.  On the first few stops, just as many would get out as new kids would get in.  Slowly we started to have fewer and fewer.  At the school, the children sang for Jeff.  First they did "Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes".  The classroom had 103 students in it, so there was barely room for them to bend over to touch their toes it was so crowded.  Next they sang and acted out Jack and Jill.  The singing was really loud because there were so many little 1st graders shouting it out!

The chimpanzees have been hanging out in the woods just behind the house.  We have heard them a lot, but Jeff has not seen any yet.  On our second day here, they killed 3 juvenile red colobus in one of the research groups that Krista studied last year.  Krista was kicking herself for not having gone out with the group that day.

That is all for now.  We hope you are all doing well!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Where it all began...

Sorry for the lame title - hopefully, we will get better at coming up with those as time goes on.  Well, we are here in London where we met 6 years ago.  We have a day to hang out here before heading on to Uganda.  We have come back to our old neighborhood in South Kensington and are visiting all our favorite spots -- our old flat, our 24 hr grocery store, the Natural History Museum, a wonderful little French creperie, our school, our old tube stop, Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park...  From here, we are also going to visit the National Gallery and whatever else we have time for.  London is as great as we remember it!  So we are going to get back to it.  The next time we post, we'll be in UGANDA!