A Change for Me. Ha!
For some time I have been trying to get a site change approved. I was placed in a small village and then asked to travel away from the village for long periods of time. Eventually what seemed to happen was that I was away more often than in the village, so I had the feeling of living out of a backpack for nearly a year. After some lobbying, I convinced the powers governing my experience in Madagascar that a move to Maroantsetra would be beneficial both to myself and to my partner organizations, WCS and ANGAP. Last week, I was told that I would be relocated to work at the park office in Maroantsetra and be assigned to regular missions to various locations around the park like my last mission to a place called Ambatolaidama. There I mapped out a reforestation program that has been underway on former agriculture fields. The hand drawn maps that exist make long term scientific monitoring difficult, so my maps will improve the current system by being more accurate.
I walked from Maroantsetra to Antalaha over the course of two days starting last Friday. There weren't any planes so I set out by boat for an hour, and then began walking. The Malagasy make the journey to a town called Mahafinaritra in two days. There you can get a taxi to Antalaha. I decided to push myself and give the journey a shot. And I made it! What's more I completed the trip entirely solo. No guide or porter. This is possible only because I can now communicate in Malagasy fairly well, and the people in the countryside are very kind. I got a little worried when I started walking behind 12 large guys with machetes, but they quickly outpaced me because of my blisters anyway.
My next few days will consist of a logistically frustrating trip to Cap Est to gather my belongings and then travel with them to Antalaha. I must then figure out the best way to transport the stuff to Maroa. Boat or plane. Not gonna walk with 80 kilos of stuff!!!
I am very excited to have the opportunity to work more closely with Parc National de Masoala. The work is fascinating and I have an excellent counterpart who is teaching me much. Unfortunately, this move will take me away from internet access for longer periods of time. I should have access again in August when I travel to Tana for a conference. Or perhaps before if my work takes me to a larger town..
I thank everyone who has sent me an e-mail, package, or posted a comment to this blog in the past month.
Caroline - I'm so glad that it's getting warmer in Ukraine. You sound like you are doing amazing things. Can't wait to see you sometime in the future.
Annie C - Congratulations on your decision to join PC Georgia. Get ready for the ride of your life.
Mike Winninger - Still forgetting the correct spelling of your name. Thank you for being one of a select group of individuals who have taken the time and care to send me magazines and Oreos. Your packages are amazing. I can't believe that you take the time to be so nice to me despite the engineering studies and running and all. You are wonderful!
Mom and Dad - look forward to the call tomorrow!
Tricia K - Good luck in Nashville. I'm so happy for you that you are so happy there. This kind Australian guy told me that there was a tornado there recently. Can you give me some info about that? Thanks for keeping in touch.
Everybody else - a few of you have been wonderful to keep in touch. Others, specifically Brooks Clardy, have not sent me more than one e-mail during my more than a year in Africa. Not to call you out but I just called you out.
Love you all,