Sunday, September 18, 2011

Week 1

We are now one-tenth of the way done with our studies here. The first module is Geology. I've never taken Geology before so I didn't really know what to expect. I thought we would just be examining rocks, but the first morning we made maps of the camp, and on the second we learned ow to actually scale them proportionally. Having class in a field school is a very different experience. I'm learning so much so fast because I actually get to see what the professor is talking about first hand. On Thursday, we waded across the river and measured it's size and how much water was flowing through it. Then we looked at fluvial deposits from 5000 years ago and then 2 and a half million years ago. Seeing the way our landscape changes through time is fascinating.

On Friday we drove to a dried up lake bed. It was incredible, and hot! There isn't any shade for miles and miles. Just the cracked clay that normally forms the basin of the lake.
The next day we took a day trip to Central Island, which is a volcanic island in the middle of Lake Turkana. The drive there was beautiful. Because Kenya is a developing country, there are tons of little kids around, and they all some running waving their hands when they see our truck. It makes me feel like some sort of celebrity. On the drive up we actually found a poor guy who crashed his motorcycle, so we took him to the local health center. He seemed OK. Wear your helmet kids!

We took a boat out into central island, ran it on shore and started to explore.

Just over a ridge there was a crater lake called Flamingo Lake. And the name was no joke. There were literally thousands upon thousands of flamingos hanging around the lake, and when we got near they all started flying over us in circles. I can't really explain the feeling of watching thousands of pink flamingos fly over your head. I've never seen so many of one animal at once.

Afterward we took a swim in the Lake, which was nice and refreshing. But as soon as we got out we spotted a crocodile swimming not so far away. Close one!
Before I go on I should tell you our schedule: we wake u at 6:30, have breakfast at 7:00, class at 8:00, tea and biscuits at 9:30, class again or a field trip, then lunch at 1:00, some more class or another activity, tea and biscuits again at 4:30, and then break until dinner at 8:00. I'm normally asleep by 9:00! Quite a change from my normal habit of staying up until 3 a.m.
The wild life around consists mostly of goats. The people here are goat herders by trade, and we pass groups of 100 or more routinely on our drives. We also have occasional donkeys here, and quite a few camels!

Bats are a very common sight at night. I even had one fly around my room! I was surprised to find that crows live here. And also a type of dove that looks somewhere in between a morning dove and a pigeon and makes a funny noise. I haven't actually seen a chicken, but I hear one almost every morning when I wake up!
Lots of bugs. There are scarab beatles, tons and tons of moths, flies, mosquitoes en masse, very large wasps, scorpions, and just tonight I saw what's called a goat spider, which actually isn't a spider. It looks a lot like a spider, but it moves very quickly and is humongous. I thought the scorpion were big, but this is almost the size of my hand. I think it will take me a while to get used to it, but I saw a couple in this room about an hour ago. Wish me luck!

Our group is smaller than last years. We have exactly ten people. Three guys, and seven girls. Most of us our from Stony Brook like me, but we have one student from NYU, one from Columbia, one from the University of Oregon, and one from New Mexico. You make friends with people pretty quickly when you're with them 24/7. And surprisingly, we all have different interests. We have a geologist, a philosophy major, physical anthropologists, archeology students, and I'm into the cultural side of anthropology myself. So when we go places there will be a couple of people fascinated with goat bones they found, another with the rocks they were found on, one pondering the nature of the goats existence, and me in the background observing them interact.
I'm usually one of those people that mosquitoes just don't seem to like. As a result, I was confidently walking around with bug spray the first couple of days. I ended up with over 60 on my feet, so lesson learned. I also haven't had serious sun burns before. But the skin on my arms, face, and back are red as tomatoes at the moment.
Today on our day off, we took a trip to a local resort. It was basically a bunch of straw cottages on the beach, but it was beautiful.

Swimming feels awesome when its 100+ degrees. We also saw a little baby baboon who was apparently somebodies pet. So cute!

So far it's a great time!

1 comment:

  1. What a blast. A lot of levels of experience simultaneously.

    Great reporting, too. Love the pics.

    Keep up the good stuff.

    Yer Dad.