Well. That escalated quickly. Wasn’t I just writing “Exhilaration" from the runway at Dulles yesterday?
The writer in me wanted to pen this post as I was touching back down on the same runway, but there were unforeseen oh-you’re-leaving-Africa-here’s-a-parting-gift circumstances that prevented me from doing much of anything really. As a result, the goals of this first post-field piece have shifted a bit. The flight experience tied together so many facets of what it feels like to leave the forest: the transition to “normal” society, walking away from your happy place, shifting from one sphere of your life to another, shifting from develop-ING to develop-ED nation, and so on and so on. It was such an excellent metaphor, but I’m not sure how to tell you why.
Don’t worry- I’m not going to tell you the harrowing tale of how I violently vomited every half hour for 8 hours until we touched down in Brussels. I won’t describe the way that such a vicious departure was so ridiculous, and so appropriate to my emotional state, that I couldn’t stop myself from laughing- out loud- between puking bouts. Or mention the details of how I completely forgot the rules of normal public behavior and talked myself through the hilarious misery- out loud. It’s too graphic. If you had been on this plane beside me, like the model-gorgeous Danish dental hygienist who really was stuck beside me, you might have thought I was completely crazy. Ok, like, almost definitely thought I was bat-shit crazy.
It all came down to a false sense of security and a rookie mistake.
After so many months frequenting the same local haunts in Ft. Portal, I forgot that most Entebbe and Kampala restaurants do not take the sort of precautions that a small restaurant that caters to mzungu tourists will. So when I saw iced tea on the menu, my brain said “Ooh! It’s so hot out and that sounds delicious!” instead of “…Do they make their ice from filtered or bottled water?”
I’ve barely stopped moving since I landed, and, as such, have found neither the time nor the energy to focus all these feelings floating around into some sort of coherent framework. But don’t worry, it’s coming. Tomorrow I start the long drive to Albuquerque and always do my best thinking on the road.
For now, some teasers. I’ve got quite a few blogger-balls in the air and I’m working on some interesting pieces. To start with, there are a few more stories to wrap up my field season- my trip to Ngongo, in particular, will include some fabulous photos and (spoiler alert) a short update on a certain Kanyawara female that emigrated some time ago…
And after that, let’s get heavy. Let’s get into some contemporary controversies in science, conservation, social justice, all kinds of stuff. For instance, many of you have asked me about my opinion Cecil the lion and I’ve been fleshing out a proper response to those inquiries.
My friend, K, is a marine biologist on Turks and Caicos and she recently posted a story on Facebook about a sea turtle that was discovered with a plastic drinking straw lodged in its nose. So I’m working on a piece about wasteful, harmful plastics. The kinds we don’t even think about. And I’m going to try not to use a single straw on my entire cross-country drive. I’m not sure how the experiment is going to hash out- but I am sure that I (and consequently you) will be very surprised to see how ubiquitous and unavoidable dangerous disposables are.
The point is- stay tuned! I might be out of the forest, but there will be plenty of interesting writing to keep us occupied till I head back.
More to come….
This blog is a forum share my personal experiences as a field researcher and traveler.