Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year's Ma-Rockin' Eve

I'm still not really sure how I ended up here, or what I'm doing here, but I'm confident that my time here is not wasted. I know I still haven't found what I was looking for when I left (I know...thanks a lot Bono...).

Not yet, anyway.

I took the picture below while the sun was setting two days ago. My camera did something crazy which I will probably never understand, but I like the result.


Some less ambiguous entries to come within in the next few days.

Happy New Year!
<3 - M

Friday, December 25, 2009

12/25/2009 (No way to avoid being cheesy)


I've been writing this entry in my head for at least a couple of months. I had a nice paragraph worked out on how much you all mean to me, how much I miss you all, how I wouldn't be where I am without every one of you, and how the irony of all of that still confuses/amuses me.

But now that the day has finally arrived, I'd rather just say:

Merry Christmas.

Love,
Michael


p.s. I bought a hat that plays a crazy Christmas medley. Thought I should share.


video

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Richard, I can hear you asking me if I want some cheese with that whine.


It's been raining for 5 days straight. Which wouldn't be so bad, if it wasn't also 40 degrees (max) in the forest. The waterproof stuff I bought after realizing the stuff I brought with me was not, in fact, waterproof, has been failing as well. I guess they don't design this stuff for standing in the rain for 10 hours. I guess they figure sane people seek cover after 1 or 2.

Yesterday was too much for me. It was just above freezing and absolutely pouring. I was soaked to the bone within half an hour. The giddiness that we normally get in such conditions over the ridiculousness of the situation, which is normally good for at least an hour, was gone in about 5 minutes. I could clench my hands into a fists and a small streams of water would run from my gloves. After four hours, I started to second guess whether I could make it the full 10, and on the fifth hour when it started sleeting I told Dave I couldn't take any more and called Chris at the flat to tell him I had to drive home. I've been torn up over this decision for the past 2 days, but I don't regret it because I think I know my limits. And I'm pretty sure I reached them. Dave had better gear (he also hadn't lost his hat in the forest a few days ago like...someone) and was significantly warmer and drier. Still, there's a certain amount of shame that's naturally associated with throwing in the towel, and I haven't been able to shake it off yet.

Dave stayed on to collect a few fecal samples, and I drove to pick him up around 4.30 with a fresh pot of coffee in the passenger seat.

This morning was significantly warmer, but Murphy's law was in full swing. I lost an important focal subject (a jumpy fringe male named George who we hadn't seen in 3 days) after the first 20 minutes when he ran from some other males. Running after a monkey in the rain in the middle of a forest, over rocks and sliding down hills, is a lot of fun, as long as you can keep track of the monkey. My weather station, a little device that we use to get temperature and humidity readings, got waterlogged and broke. The otter box that keeps my palm pilot dry started leaking. I misidentified a focal subject.

To top it all off, the beer shop's been closed for 4 days and we have no idea why.

I feel good, though. Can't say exactly why. But the sun came out for 15 minutes this afternoon before we left, and the monkeys ran up to the tops of the trees into whatever little patches of sunlight they could find and looked down at us as if to say 'we're not moving...you can go'. So we did.

'Tis the season.

Rain in the forecast for tomorrow.

A footnote:
Dave just informed me that as of two days ago we have collected 400 monkey poops. 150 of those are mine.

I know you're all very proud.

Soundtrack: TV On the Radio -- Family Tree

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

I should really be asleep...

...I can hear the rain outside my window (I can't see it because the metal blinds are closed to keep the heat in) and I'm thinking about how tomorrow will probably be pretty miserable. But then again, with stuff like this happening every day:

video

...It's hard for any day to be a complete loss.

Still. Brr...

Monday, December 14, 2009

This is so cool.

Pictures, pictures, pictures...

First, some pictures of Azrou:


It was a brutal day in the forest today, around 40 degrees and torrential rain/wind.
Luckily I had the day off. Chris and Dave don't hold any grudges though. They know my time will come.


I snapped these from the roof during a break in the rain.


And now, some more pictures of monkeys.
First, Ben contemplating whatever a monkey contemplates:




Larssen (a young adult male) in splendid repose:


Another round of find the monkey:


Chris and I spent last Wednesday getting acquainted with another forest about 15 kilometers down the road from our field site. It's much more isolated, and is frequented only by Berber shepherds, who have lived in the region since pre-Roman times. Lots of the valleys have small settlements like this one (it's very small and in the center):

I really like it here.

But that doesn't mean I don't miss you all as much as ever.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

nothing to report

so here are some pictures from the office:




...

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Silly

I was looking at the weather and saw that it was forecasting snow on Friday.
I started freaking out and writing a whole entry on how I wasn't ready for snow, how it wasn't supposed to snow in Africa, how I missed Texas weather, etc...

And then I realized I was looking at the weather forecast for Austin. Friday here is supposed to be sunny and in the lower 60s.

Stay warm, y'all!