Notes from the field: May 2019
The end of May marks my ten month of field work in Mangevo.
At the beginning, thinking about all the time for field work before me, it seemed I would be following the black-and-white ruffed lemurs at a turtle’s pace for years. However, in the blink of an eye, I am half way now. My energy, motivation, and courage increase every day and yet my deep attachment to my study species has remained from the beginning. My continued passion makes my work enjoyable, even when I am down in the dumps sometimes, I jump for joy for the rest of it.
I have gone through a colorful experience at Mangevo. Working together with different researchers from all over the world has not only cultivated my sense of the world but has also opened my eyes to seeing the richness in difference. It taught me to be flexible and adapt to different cultures. I have developed my skills in communication with all sorts of people. Leading the team has built up my human resource skills and has taught me how to persuade people, to be strict, while at the same time being negotiable and decisive. The issues that spring up are challenges that test my maturity and responsibility. When I look back, I am very grateful to encounter these issues, as they have helped me to develop myself. Researchers, guides, and cooks are my second family in the forest. Working with them teaches me to have a sense of teamwork. Sharing tasks and helping each other allows us to stick together and build a sense of cooperation and community.
Leech bites, wasps and flies, fatigue from hiking over eight hours a day, falling when plant vines ensnare me, being wet from rain and sweat from hiking up and down: these challenges are nothing compared to results of my research. Struggles teach me to persevere across situations. My tent is my home, my sleeping pad is my bed, and my sleeping bag my blanket, but I feel cozy! We drink water from the river, we cook with fire wood, and we eat no perishable foods. From life at camp, I have learned to be humble and selfness in addition to acquiring the flexibility I need for the work. Our past times are Jokes, our evenings and days off distractions include cards and dominos. Sitting by the fire and waiting for dinner are the times when we take advantage to share the news from our day.
My everyday life includes my admiration of the beauty of the forest and its wildlife, not only the black-and-white ruffed lemurs but also many incredible and amazing species of plants and animals. Contemplating nature is therapeutic in a way that I have never experienced in the big city where I used to live. In addition, I am becoming more and more attached to my study animals. The more I follow them, the more I am persuaded that they are unique and special. My understanding of their behavior grows every day which makes me hopeful about becoming a Varecia specialist one day.
Stay tuned, good vibes.