Sunday, 30 May 2010

Sunday today. i have been chilling for the last couple of days mostly. today I went on an explore to take some photos. i had reasonable success.
I then got distracted by some bloke for qbout two hours. one of the problems of talking to people a lot is that occassionally you end up getting sidetracked by people who turn out to be nutters.

I am off to the field from tomorrow until next saturday. we are going to a village miles away from the nearest road up in the hills. its going to be all kinds of knackering.

Its strange, i have been off since tuesday afternoon just chilling for various reasons and I felt that I had recovered on about friday but now I feel even more tired.
hoping that doing the exercise of a week of transects willperk me up. and kill me again likely as not.

I have been thinking about doing a little bit of travelling after i have my data. it is fraustrating that I am this close to madagascar but dont really have the time to go there. I plan to go to moheli at some point, one of the other islands of the comoros, and see turtles laying their eggs. they also have a marine reserve so i want to go see that.
I think I might go to moheli about 10 days before my flight, see that a bit and then move onto grand comore wjhen I have seen the things I want to see and see some stuff there. madagascar will have to wait.

Im getting some great photos out here. i went to gget some of people today, as you have to chat them up a bit first. its easiest if they have a kid cos then i can make them laugh by getting my hair out.

the thing ive been trying to capture is the haphazard building approach
like 4 storey buildings which reach the other side of the street, have the steps on the outside and have palmleaf huts on the outside. they build buildings over a series of years here, building a new bit when they have the money, meaning that there are loads of empty shells of buildings. there are a lot of ruins as well, many in the center of the town, just big piles of rubble.

Ive been reading harry potter.
loving the escapism, i always get wonderfully transported by harry potter.

anyway nothing much exciting has happened, i have just been relaxing. next week is going to be tough I think.

much love to all

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Hi everyone. Loads of people seem to be reading this, im flattered! thankees.
I got back yesterday from the highest mountain on the island. it was knackering,i climbed over a kilometre up, and some of it twice and all of it in the dark.
oh and I saw an owl! little more than a sillouette but I saw one.

I still cantget over the coconut crabthough, it was HUGE.

I have been at home recoveringthe last couple of days, part of what Ihave been doing is waging war on the kitchen cockroaches. they are fucking abhorrant. I have discovered that if the get intothe sink they cantget out so I have been using that and boiling water as one of my main weapons.
srsly, the fact that they have no bins here does not help things. though they have had a major river of rubbish burn the last couple of days.

I realised today today that I have gotten used to being drenched in sweat. never thought id say that.
I hardly speak english here as well. I know one english speaker and I see her once a week tops for a couple of hours, so my french is getting a good workout.

I am thoroughly enjoying the fact that there are about 10 white people on the entire island, it means that many people I meet either havent seen a white person or have only seen one or two, which makes me feel a bit like a victorian explorer.
and they certainly havent seen one with my hair which is fun.

I have been visiting the malagash bar a bit more. I have been proclaimed a brother of the owner, which is nice cos it means i can sit out back where people are more interesting.also he insists on feeding me every time I go, so we sit in his mud hut (which has satelite tv) and eat and talk about deep philosophical questions.
I think he is one of the most generous human beings I have ever met. there are a kinda gang of young people who live in his little buisness (he brews all the coconut beer on site and on the same day its drunk) and most of them are orphans or people whos parents have been unable to look after them. Many of them have lived there since they werer children.
Its a bit humbling really.

I intend to make some bread tomoz, thebread they have here is shite.
I need to find yeast however. in order to buy things here you have to know people or get lucky.

Ive been largely living off the various pastry things that they sell at the side of the road here. they are very nice. they make this thing here, its kinda like a flapjack made with nuts and ginger. very tasty.

anyhoo thats all I can think of for now
lots of love and thanks for reading

Sunday, 23 May 2010

So last night I went to a muslim dance thing.
I say went to, I mean got a bit sucked into.
They had closed off this street and put up party type decorations so I had kinda assumed it was a wedding. Id been casually invited when I walked past so i thought Id go have a look see.
I sat just down the road watching for about 10 mins before I got strongly invited in.
So, it consisted of many people, all in white gowns and those little hats sitting in four long lines. there was much singing and dancing, but in a kinda religuous "dance in the correct fashion" kinda way. oh and it was men only.
I got fairly quickly designated as honoured guest, they put flowers all over me, gave me a kinda scarf thing and one of their hats. there wwas quite a lot of kinda preaching and arabic singing. I was then informed by someone quietly that I was going to give a speech.
to about 1000 people or so.
So I was handed a very load mic and I told them who I was, where I was from and thanked them for their hospitality.
It seemed to go down well and one of their religous leaders stood up and thanked me, mostly for not being french I think.

anyway then there was more singing and dancing, with people handing out dates and various snacks.
I met a number of priesty imam type figures. I have no idea what the sunnis call their religous leaders.

good time had by all really. was very interesting stuff. and I am significantly more known now than I was before I suspect.

love to all
Oh and Im climbing the highest mountain on teh island today.


Friday, 21 May 2010

Hi everyone
So this morningI got back from a very fun transect. I was walking along a ridge that was one metre wide for about 3km. either side were almost sheer drops of 500m+ covered in forest trees. In some places there was literally a tiny 1m path with horizontal trees eitehr side.
The views were amazing. one my right was the worlds second largest volcanic crater, and it was HUGE. there are 3 or 4 villages inside it...
On my left there was a very cool looking village, in the middle of a plantation forest.the smoke rising off it with the islamic singing was really cool.

I have this afternoon and tomorrow off and then Im staying at a lake halfway up the highest mountain on the island, Nztingui i think its called. Hopefully should be a ton of owls there.
Ive been getting great data except for a few cancelled morning transects due to waking up at three and the weather being shite.
I LOVE that most biological surveying of this sort cant be done in shit weather.
Waking up on a mountain summit at three to do more climbing sucks so if you wake up and the tent is being shaken by the wind its loverly to just go back to sleep.

I spent a lot of yesterday talking about culture differences and sexism with my comorian colleague.interesting stuff, if a bit wierd. They aernt big on womens rights here to say the least.
Aparantly I should hide the fact that I can cook here.for a man to be seen cooking or doing any domestic chores is aparantly social suicide...

Sorry if my typing is a bit bad btw, I am typing on an ancient french/arabic keyboard and its not great.

I think I am going to see if I can find something to eat now
Love to all and thanks for reading

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

just a quick one. did my first transect, monday to wed. the most physically demanding thing I have ever done by miles.
Hoping that the next one wont be to bad.
I also saw a coconut crab. it was the size of my head and on a mountain. I love that such a thing exists. srsly it was huge.

I also got shouted et by le,urs again.
oh also the best thing happened. I was halfway up this mountain, covered in sweat and we found a stream with a pool to bath in. it was one of the best things ever I tell you.

I also met the headman of a village.

and saw a spider that was too big for me to be ok about.
love to all

Saturday, 15 May 2010

I have been making preparations today for next week, lots of making marks on maps and worrying about experimental design. Fortunaterly there is nowhere on the island that can't be reached in under a few hours, due to it being widdy. you reach these places by using the single loop road that the island has.
I am still meeting many people, people still want to meet a muzunga. I was actually followed by a crowd of children the other day, till a couple of embarressed looking guys told them off :P very strange.
I have been reading books a lot here recently and just discovered a memory technique which works very well for my brain. It took me 3 minutes to learn pi to 28 digits. I feel like a superhero.
I feel there are lots of little things I should mention about Anjouan. Especially as taking photos will be hard as i think that would be a bit rude here.
Many of the women wear white mud on their face. I understand its to stop the suns effects on their skin, keeping them young and beautiful. And eternally muddy.

everything has a known price here, for example a coke is 200 francs (40p) and a taxi ride is 300 francs (60p) and everything is exactly the same price wherever you go. There is no haggling and its the same price for white people. I had one guy slightly overcharge me for a cab fair but he looked so deeply embarrassed by what he was doing (charging me an extra 30p) that I was happy to give it to him!

There are millions of ways of saying hello here, from all different languages and people like to kinda test you by firing two or three at you. They are very happy when you know them!

there are cows and goats and chickens everywhere, seemingly without owners. I have seen a flock of goats very determinedly trotting down a road completely on their own quite a few times. They live off the rubbish, there is no rubbish disposal system here whatsoever. Despite this the seem extremely healthy, though the cats and chickens are all tiny. Mmmm The rubbish ends up in the dry or not so dry river beds, producing a river of rubbish. every now and again someone sets alight to it, presumably a form of disposal.

Given the amount of plastic wrapping they get through, its a little shocking.

anyhoo I'm off to memorise things
love to all

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

SO today I walked up into the forest! It was fucking epic. I am so goddam tired. In height alone I climbed over a kilometre and then down again. in the dark. Also we got great data, which bodes really fucking well. goddam it was good. proper rainforest. fucking scary coming down in the dark though. also I trod on a giant snail, which was most upsetting as it looked like my pet snails (also giant african land snails). I say fireflies. They are every bit as magical as you can imagine and then some. I was sitting on the side of a very steep slope, the mountains rolling down below me, listening for owls and they were just flitting through the trees, eerie little lights looking very much like they didn't really belong outside of mythology. I am completely nackered but elated. and I shall do it all again tomoz.

sleep now

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

started to arrange stuff today. Looks like im going to have a very exhausting schedule, climbing up mountains most days. Should be good. It chucked it down today. looks epic, there is mist all around the mountain tops and everything is very green, so you get these forests dissappearing into the mist, towering over the city. I tried to get some photos but ended up chatting to a guy named Bouba. Most of my walks and things get sidetracked by meeting people.
Tomorow I am going to climb my first mountain, we are doing a first test transect. I shall also be buying a sim card!
I think I will have a lie in as well. Woop!
I'm hoping to see the biggest bat species in the world too, a 2 metre wingspan!

I love the lizards here, they live in peoples houses and appear to be territorial as they only appear individually and there is only one that goes onto our sitting room window. I say window, hole with gauze over it. Most houses here don't have glass in the windows, and ours is no exception. There is a baby one that lives in my room. Its about 4 cm long. They are both bright green.

Also while I am rambling wildly, the dreams I am getting here are insane. I think its the heat, but srsly. In one the other night I went to the loo and gave birth to 40 crayfish. Scarily enough I thought it was real at the time...

Oh yes and last night I was woken up by a cockroach trying to burrow into my ear. The most unpleasent wakening I have ever had.

Thats all for now
Love to all

Monday, 10 May 2010

Monday week one
So I went into the office today. Exciting stuff, met all the people who work there, its quite a big project. Its all run by this guy Hugh, whos house I'm staying at. Very bright and generous man. I met the three local guys who I will be working with, all very friendly. The french is battering my brain about quite a bit, getting to grips with the accent is tricky. Also when people slip Comorian words into sentences that confuses the hell out of me. On wednesday and thursday we will do trial runs of the method, which should be good. then for four days a week for the next month or so I should be staying out at various places in the field getting data. Exciting stuff. The heat here is knackering still. I got home and slept for two hours. Also it gets dark at about 6:30, which I find strange as I associate summer conditions with late evenings. Prayers have just started, you can hear them calling from the mosques all over the town.
Lunch today was fish and fried green bananas with a sauce that tasted of pepper spray.
I have decided I do not like fried green bananas, although apparantly those were not good ones. Whilst the food here can be good, some of it is best eaten in the dark. Which as it turns out is where you eat it as most street food is sold in little palmleaf huts.

anyhoo thats all for now
love to all.
pls comment!

Saturday, 8 May 2010

3rd day

Had quite an eventfull day yesterday. I went for an explore in the morning and met many people. Everyone is very friendly. Especially as there aren't many Muzungus (white people) here so they all want to talk to one. I went to a beach and watched giant bats drinking sea water. not the biggest bats, these ones only(?) have a metre or so wingspan. We ate supper in a small palm leaf hut by the side of the road. Cassava, grated papaya and brussets which are basically kebabs. We then went onto a bar. It turns out that alcohol is not quite as prohibited as you might think. This may be partially due to the fact that law enforcment is nonexistant here. I don't think there is any form of it on the island in fact. Possible exception of two exceedingly bored looking guards outside the bank. So anyway this bar was made of palm leaves and the alcohol it sells is fermented palm oil. It tastes like motor oil. but its 1 euro a litre so what the hey. A strange thing about this country is that they don't produce much themselves, most things are imported. So the chicken for example comes from Brazil. I understand this is because its of such poor chemically treated quality that nowhere else will buy it, making it extremely cheap, cheaper in fact than trying to raise chickens here. The strange combination of imported and local goods means there are some strange price differences. The kebab meal I had cost around a euro I think including a coke (theres a tiny factory on the island and they recycle bottles so enthusiastically that you can't take coke bottles out of the shop, you have to drink it there). A half pint of beer in a can however costs 3 euros. and I saw a horn for a car that cost £60. As far as I can make out the deficit caused by the fact that they import everything and export nothing is made up for by the fact that they all go to France to earn money. Meaning that most families living here have a number of people in France sending back wages.
I'm going to see if UI can upload some photos shortly. We shall have to see if I can get that to work


Friday, 7 May 2010

I arrived in Matasmudu today.Its a village by the side of the sea. The mountains tower up above it and the sides are steep, so the city is a kind of strip betwixt sea and mountain. it has 12,000 inhabitants and is the capital of Anjouan. There is a medina and many mosques, mostly built by the arabs. I'll probably go for a proper explore tomoz. Its quite a strange place here, whilst it is definaterly Africa, people are slightly richer on average, despite the rubbish everywere and all the buildings being built out of breeze blocks, (some) people have dvd players and tvs. this is possibly because there is a strong french connection so many people go to work in france and send money back. There is also no crime. This is a combination of high levels of muslim belief and a small tight community. this means that if anything goes missing it can normally be located by asking around. In fact there are stories of things being stolen and after asking around the stuff has been recovered a couple of towns along. Anyhoo I'm going to go for an evening stroll.
love to all