Sunday, August 28, 2011

Hello from Rwanda!

So I'm a few days behind in getting this blog going as my initial plan was to send out a mass family & friends periodic email update. However, I keep discovering people that I have accidentally left out, so I’m going to switch on over to the blog. :)

SO, yes. I am in Rwanda! Just for consistency, I will copy over segments from my 2 previous email updates and then continue with the blog from here on out.

Wednesday, August 24th....

“I just wanted to let everyone know that I made it safe and sound to Ruhengeri last night and have had a great first day here at the Karisoke offices. After 2 airline and 4 plane changes, all of my bags miraculously made it to Kigali so I’m quite happy about that. Rwanda is really beautiful - it reminds me of a mix between Uganda and Thailand. Lots of colorful tropical flowers, everything is very lush and green. The surrounding chain of volcanoes is really incredible, very majestic. Lots of pics to come!

So I got set up in my office this morning and have hit the ground running.

I just had my first very successful interview this afternoon with Ildephonse Munyargerero (the manager for DFGFI's Ecosystem Health and Community Development Program) and will be working on that story this weekend. Next week it's off to the Bisate school and clinic for that assignment. Tomorrow morning, we've got our weekly DFGFI staff meeting where all of the scientists and trackers come in from the field so that all of the staff can discuss everything that is going on in the various programs. Should be very enlightening!

My accommodations here are really great. It's a pretty large house with 2 full bathrooms and HOT WATER! Honestly - what a difference just hot water makes. My room overlooks a beautiful, large garden out back and the 2 house dogs are sweeties - my temporary substitutes for Harthie and the Beanster. :) This week we’ve had 2 canadian ape ladies staying at the research house with Winnie (the post doc scientist) and I. Us “ape girls” have already had some really great discussions... the primatology world is a small one and it turns out we know/work with a lot of the same people. I will really miss them when they head back home on Tuesday!”


Saturday, August 27th....

“Thanks everyone for writing back. I really love getting your emails and feeling like I still have somewhat of a connection to everybody back home! :)

My first few days have been great. Very busy... I'm already simultaneously working on 3 articles... and will now be working with Veronica, our Gorilla program manager to get updates out on the daily gorilla soap opera. :) We've had 3 silverbacks and a mother and infant split off from Pablo's group (which at 46 is the largest group we have). The trackers went out searching and found the 3 silverbacks. They're thinking that some more dynamic group changes are on the horizon because Cantsbee (the dominant silverback that Fossey knew early in her work) is starting to lose his dominance in the group as he is getting older.

They also found a dead silverback on the mountain. They estimated he had been dead for 2 weeks and because of the decomposition, they weren't able to tell who he was. The trackers carried him down from the mountain 2 nights ago and yesterday they did the necropsy. I had to go into town with Emmanuel to meet some Musanze district people for my work visa so I wasn't able to help, but Kim and Rachelle (my 2 canadian roomates) were able to participate in a very hands on way and help remove all of the organs from the body! They said he was absolutely enormous. Rachelle showed me a picture of his empty rib cage and he really was gigantic! I think I could have curled up inside of there. On a happier note, we did have an infant born yesterday, so the circle of life continues...

Last night, we had a HUGE thunderstorm come through. I really thought the tin roof of our house was going to come off. Kim, Rachelle and I were hanging at the house last night after work and all of the electricity went out. So we ended up having a candle light dinner and then sat around the living room having ape talk and laughing for hours. It was a great night!

Tonight we're headed out with some of the gorilla veterinarians from MGVP for dinner. I’ve heard great things about them and I'm looking forward to meeting everyone at that camp!

Hope everyone is having a great weekend!

Love you all very very much.


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