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Showing posts from August, 2009

camp life - cooking with fire, er, charcoal

I'm going to do a few ex-post-arriving-home-o posts, since I finally have the time to sit down and do them! This first one will basically be showing a few photos of camp - two of the tent situated furthest from camp in a lovely spot on a cliff:




and two some of our crew getting ready to go out to the excavations.




You might wonder how we see at night in this electricity-free camp: we use kerosene lamps for light.



Well, it's not entirely accurate that we don't have electricity. We have a great "solar system" consisting of solar panels,





connected to a car battery,



connected to a power inverter, connected to a plug strip into which we can plug computers, cell phones, etc.



And what about cooking? Well, we mostly use charcoal. It comes in big sacks which you can see off to the left, and we have a big pile of it under the kitchen "tent" (basically a canvas awning for shade) that the cooks use whenever they need it.



The charcoal can be put in a jiko, a stove of sorts, …

Basic Bush Bathing 101

This will be a short-winded post, since I found out I'm leaving a day early for a conference I'm attending in Tanzania - I leave early tomorrow morning! It was a busy day and I'm pretty tired. But I promised to show you where I bathe in the field.

Yesterday we went over the bush bathroom. In the view here, you can see the shower just beyond it, nestled in a tree:



Here's a closer view,



and an even closer one, where you can see one of my favorite camping gear inventions: the solar shower.



How does it work? Basically, it's a big, thick plastic bag you fill with water and leave out in the sun to heat up all day.



Then you hoist it into a tree and hang it over a branch.



Here you can see the bag, hose and spouty-thing that the water comes out of. (I told you I'm tired, I'm getting a little inarticulate!)



Inside the shower area -- which is similar to the bush toilet in that it's basically some wooden stakes with muslin wrapped around it -- there's a slatted wooden…

But... where do you go to the bathroom out there?!?

[NOTE: PLEASE IGNORE THE RANDOM BLACK SPECK IN THE UPPER RIGHT QUADRAT OF ALL OF THESE PHOTOS. SOME IRRITATING PROBLEM WITH MY LENS, I THINK. GRRRR.]

This is one of the most common questions I get, so I decided to let you know all about our bush bathroom!



I go to the bathroom in a long drop "choo" (Swahili for toilet, rhymes with "yo", not "you"). When you enter in the "front door",



You can see it's a big hole dug in the sand, with a toilet seat on it, surrounded by a wooden frame wrapped with muslin on all sides and open on the top.



We make sure there's plenty of toilet paper, and insect spray - which you can see tucked away behind a post on the right - for the flies that invariably like to hang out there.

To discourage the flies, we also scoop sand from these buckets and throw it down into the hole to cover the, uh, stuff.



Unfortunately, whoever designed this toilet seat - with the ring part made of wood, but the rest made of metal - didn…

.... and she's back, in Kenya.

A note about all of my blog posts: NAMES ARE OFTEN WITHHELD TO PROTECT THE INNOCENT, AND THE GUILTY

Despite being adventurous and priding myself on liking to try new things, I am also creature of habit. I have spent at least a part of every summer in Africa since 1996, but I've never been to South America or Australia (not yet!). When I travel to Africa, I sometimes exercise my habits... I eat in the same place in the Amsterdam airport every year en route to Nairobi from somewhere on the east coast (Washington DC these days), and I always have the same thing. Tomato soup - the eternal soup of the day, made with chunks of tomatoes; a baguette sandwich with brie and lettuce; and a sparkling water. Is it comforting? I think so. Is there nothing else gastronomically appealing in the entirety of Schipol? Maybe not. Well, besides the edibles in the shops which aren't really meant to be eaten in the airport - the variety of cheeses, the sausage stuffed to the gills with what I imagine…