Tuesday, February 2, 2010

[Victor] - Back in Chicago

Kenya field course is over. The days flew by really fast, so here I am again back in Chicago. It was an amazing experience and I am packed full of lovely memories and new friends!

During the last days of our stay, we were busy with our projects having no time to blog at all. Still I will write down some of my random memories in this last blog post, things that I wanted to blog but had no time to do it.

The Ants

My project was about Acacia Tree Ants, a specie of ants that lives in Acacia Trees. The ants live in a symbiotic relationship with the tree - the tree provides them food and shelter (it creates them spherical like structures, called domiciles) and they provide protection to the tree. My partner in this project was Colin (he had the original idea to study those ants) so every day we went into the filed counting and studying ants. And please remember: Ants DO BITE and yes it hurts!

The Ol Pejeta

The Ol Pejeta was an arms dealers ranch with a big fancy house in the middle. Now it is a conservancy for animals and the house is being used as a Hotel. We went for an excursion there and it was full of animals. We saw Elephants, Giraffes, African Buffalos, Chimps and Baboons! Highlight of the day was seeing two Cheetahs and three White Rhinos! We also visited Baraka (which means "The blessed one" in Swahili), a blind Black Rhino and took some nice pictures and also fed him!


We went to Naynuki (the closest town near Mpala Research Center) to withdraw money and buy souvenirs! We went to the local market, where everything was completely crazy! The sellers were always trying to attract us to buy from them, saying stuff like: "You are my best customer today", "I will make you the best prize, because I like you the most", etc. The bargains were tough and amuzing! Some of us were really good at it, dropping the prices from 3.000 to 500 Shillings or even less, while some others payed much more than they should! It was funny, because there were people that bought the same thing with a totally different price! Money was also not a problem in this market. You could pay with Euros, Dollars and some even accepted any foreign currency, while others wanted to trade with us stuff: Shoes, t-shirts, hats for anything you wanted in the shop. You could bargain anything in those shops!


One day before leaving, Andrew wanted to go fishing at the river. Ann, Albert, Xingli, Khairi, Iain, Colin and me decided to join him. We went at the other camp site of the MRC, which consists of tents and is by the river. While Ann and Andrew fished, we light up a fire and enjoyed the nice weather and the sunset. Ann and Andrew joined us after a while, without any catch. It was fun though!

The last day

We still needed some data collecting for our project so we went into the field first thing in the morning. Cailtin, Andrew, Khairi, Habiba, Albert and Maria joined me and Colin, since their projects were over. We needed some help and they really helped us a lot. During our drive back, we stopped at every chance to watch elephants, zebras and giraffes for the last time!

In the afternoon we had a beer party at a rock were we could see the sunset. Dan drove us there and the view was amazing! We took lot's of pictures and everyone was happy and smiling because the course went fine and the projects were finished on time. After the dinner we also had a group of traditional dancers of the local tribe. They singed and danced and it was pretty cool!

The staff

The staff at MRC is amazing. Always helpful and smiling, trying to solve every problem you have in any possible way.

I would like to personally thank:

The faculty: Tanya, Dan, Iain for their efforts to bring us to Kenya

Margaret - The Director

Mike - The Ranch Manager

Julius - The Head of Security




George - The IT Manager

Lawrence - Head of the kitchen

David - From the kitchen

Frank and Alex - Our roommates !

The other researchers that work there

All the stuff that works at MRC

The dancers

The villagers

Everyone else!