Jennifer A. Chin (cswallow) wrote,
Jennifer A. Chin

Noloholo, Day 17: A lion track

First night camping and when morning comes, both Andrew and I profess to have been terrified of every single noise we heard. It is simultaneously unnerving and thrilling. There is no real possibility of being eaten, of course, but I begin to appreciate at last, the fear that strikes those people who live with species like lion, hyena, leopard, even the tigers of last summer, every day.

The wind blew in strong last night and in the morning I find my undergarments flown off my clothesline and landed all over the campsite, strange colors in the red dust and grey-gold grass.

Last night I dreamed of rain.

In the day I begin to read Laly’s PhD dissertation (something I should have done months ago) and then sit with Laly, Buddy and Elvis to go over the survey. This is always exhausting work; conflicting opinions and different backgrounds tend to seed conflict around what questions to ask and how to ask them. It’s important to keep the main goals in mind: What are my research questions? What piece of information is this question attempting to contribute?
By lunchtime I am seriously wilting and Elvis looks worse for the wear as well. We break for lunch and a little bit of rest, and then come back to it later.

Laly and Buddy both have colds, but are energetic as ever, and I marvel at their ability to keep their spirits up. As tiring as this work is, we all learn a lot from the process. Elvis grew up in a nearby Maasai village, and he tells us tons of information about what questions are good and which ones don’t make sense. It’s then my job to reformat the question to make it make sense, and ensure that it will product the information we want.

In the afternoon we go on a game drive with our visitors: Christine from TNC Travel Planning and Alfonse from the TNC Arusha office. It’s very quiet out – we see a few impala and a group of warthog but nothing else. Dennis and the Hadza found lion tracks that morning so we go to look for them, too. We see a track as well (called spoor), and pick up an old water jug that has claw marks on it. Laly and Buddy paint a fun picture for us: the lion probably played with the jug for a while before continuing on its way. We drive around the area for some time, but there is no sign of the animal itself, so we finally give up and head back to camp. What we do see is a sunset beneath the clouds that have plagued us all day, the color of grapefruit soda and bubblegum. We drive past the burn areas along the park boundary; the earth is scorched with black rashes. In the evening we sit by the fire and then have a fabulous meal, accompanied by stories from Laly and Alfonse about life in the bush.

It has been a lovely evening, but my stomach bothered me all day, and I am exhausted from the survey work and having not slept much the night before. I crawl gratefully into my tent and pass out.

Tags: travel - tanzania
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