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Showing posts from June, 2010

Kenya - nchi ya kitu kidogo, nchi ya watu wadogo, kama kawaida *sigh*

I've spent most of this week doing preparations for the upcoming field season: making sure cars get repaired, supplies get bought, organizing fossils in the museum, etc. Today I had a bit of a "down" day, in a good way - just some time to myself. I went to a great morning yoga class at the gym at the Sarit Center (the nearby western-style mall), later I had lunch with some I've never met, a friend (Juliet) of a friend of my husband's (Susan). Susan introduced us over email since we were both going to be in Nairobi; it's always nice for me to meet people outside of prehistory research! The lunch was great; she does aid work in Somalia, including some education work, and we had a lot to talk about. The only negative part of the day was hearing a story of an American friend who'd recently had this encounter in Nairobi:

Driver in old 4WD vehicle was stopped at a roundabout on the main highway through town. Policeman who was directing traffic approached driver…

the end of a vehicular era

As you may have gathered from my previous posts, my Land Cruiser has been a big part of my adventures in East Africa over the past (~8) years.

It's saved my life from charging Cape buffalos and elephants. (I was a *little* too busy putting the pedal to the metal to snap and photos of those close encounters of the large mammal kind!)

It's saved my life from bad Nairobi drivers - someone once hit the side of my car in a roundabout; it was slightly scratched, and her front bumper fell off. I've crossed country borders in it probably a dozen times.

I've slept in it, eaten in it, observed countless wildlife, sunrises, sunsets, and starry nights in it. (Have I mentioned is has three roof hatches? Three!)

I've driven through some dusty places in it. (Yeah, I know the car is brown, but it was absolutely covered in dust in this picture.)

We've gotten each other out of being stuck in aardvark holes. Well, OK, maybe I did more of the rescuing in those instances.

I've …

how many PhDs toes it take to change a flat tire... or, the five Sunday sighs

So this is my first Kenya post, but also my last Tanzania post, since it spans the day Brian, Kevin, Vince, Adam and I drove from Arusha to Nairobi after the Natron field season.

We were all ready to get on to our next projects, I think - so ready that we forgot to pack any lunch for ourselves for the 7(ish) hour trip. Oops! Brian and Kevin were heading to Nairobi for a few days before going north to the Turkana region for more research; Vince and Adam were spending just a few days in Nairobi visiting a friend of Vince's before going back to Tanzania and flying back to the US.

The trip went pretty smoothly; well, most of it. We crossed the Tanzania-Kenya border without much incident; if you bring a Kenyan vehicle to Tanzania you have to leave your original log book (= car title) on the border, which always makes me a bit queasy, but I've done it several times now and they always find it and return it to me without any issues. So: vehicle log book? check. exit stamps from Tanza…

brakes. so overrated.

Up at 7:00 am, packed and ready to drive to another country!

I had a little Kenya research project business to do at the museum before picking up Will, who thoughtfully grabbed us lunch provisions from the swanky breakfast buffet at his hotel - I was laughing at the image of him wrapping bacon sandwiches and apple-stuffed pastries in napkins and sneaking them under his jacket. We stopped by the ATM, fueled up my car, and off we went!

Off-course, that is. The road from Nairobi (Kenya) to Arusha (Tanzania) is currently being repaired, and the turn off to that road from the road to Mombasa (Kenya) wasn't marked. So we went 22 km past where we needed to turn. Oops.

Then, things got a little... harder. I was finding it harder to stop, because... my brakes went out. Yikes!! I stopped at a gas station and checked the brake fluid... which was gone. Well, at least that's a fairly easy thing to fix, right? Just add more brake fluid. Which I did. Ah, brakes again! But, unfortunately, there…

doing my best headless chicken impression

I had one day in Nairobi to get ready to go to the field in Tanzania. Thankfully, I had 8 1/2 hours of sleep behind me, so I was feeling full of energy. The day went something like this:

[By the way, I never use last names in my blog posts, to protect the innocent -- and the guilty.]

- Have breakfast at the hotel.
- Go to the museum - see lots of old friends and colleagues (Emma, Purity, Mary, Chris, Musyoka, Tima, the taxi drivers, the guy who brings newspapers...).
- Get into the storeroom where all of my belongings are kept in locked trunks, and I rifle through them, putting aside a variety of things I'll need: field clothes, maps of East Africa, binoculars and animal guides, etc. It's a little bit like re-finding buried treasure - my favorite field pants! A nearly full bottle of sunscreen!
- Get some things organized for our Kenya field season, which will begin in late June.
- I head to the Sarit Center (a mall in the Nairobi suburbs of Westlands) to get some cash, grab lunch, a…

She's baaaack!

I have so much to write about...! It's been a fun-filled few weeks since I arrived in East Africa, and I finally have a chance to start writing some blogs posts again now. I'll start with my first few days in Kenya, and then over the next several days I'll write some posts about the Tanzania fieldwork....

So I'll tell you now that I'm blog-cheating - I'm posting this on June 25th, even though it's about what I did on June 2nd. I just figured out how to change the date of my posts. Heh heh heh (she says, wringing her hands together in a sinister way.)

So... it's June 2nd. (Er, well, it was when I jotted down the raw material for this post.) My wonderfully organized husband arrived early at the museum to pick me up for my flight, as he was very anxious to make sure I got there on time - and it's a good thing, too, since the tram I was on in Dulles broke down! We all had to get off and walk to the next terminal, but only after a few agonizing minutes of …