Tomorrow morning we are packing up and departing Ndarakwai, where the students have been busy for the past 6 days. We intentionally front-load the course with a lot content as we try to rapidly introduce Tanzanian history and culture while also covering some of the basic concepts of dry savanna ecology and field methods.
Yesterday students designed mini-animal behavior research projects and spent most of the day observing (and following around) groups of impala and baboons. Today was focused on vegetation plots, which are a way to assess species distribution and diversity and a fundamental building block of many ecological studies. After practicing at camp, they set off guided by GPS units to measure the vegetation on and off the ranch here.
Tomorrow we are off to Arusha for a few days and will be changing camp locations every night or two for the rest of our time in Tanzania. Students will likely have access to wifi for the next day or two, but will then likely
be out of touch for the next week and a half or so. I will try to post periodic updates here and will be adding photos to Instagram (@paulshaffner), but as I've mentioned before, no news is good news!
After a 7 AM breakfast, we flew out of Mbeya and arrived in Dar es Salaam just about an hour ago. All luggage came through unscathed.
In case you haven't heard, traffic in Dar is bad - I mean really bad. We are heading across town to a small shopping center called Slipway. Most of us have 10 hours in town so it's too much time to sit at the airport, and yet about half those hours will be spent fighting traffic.
We actually said goodbye to Desmond at the airport because his flight departs in the afternoon and he would have had to spend 5ish hours in taxis for 30 minutes at the shopping center. Pole sana (very sorry) Desmond!
After a visit to the hospital at Matema, we are now in Mbeya for a hospital tour and a final dinner together. Dr. Cavener leaves us tonight. The rest fly to Dar es Salaam on FastJet tomorrow morning and then depart Tanzania tomorrow night.
The students have been a wonderful group and a pleasure to travel and learn with. Please be sure to give them lots of time to gush and process when you see them in a few days' time!
Students walked down the beach to the village this morning. After lunch we headed up one of the valleys of the mountains in this picture to find a waterfall. Tonight we're having a fish barbecue and a fire on the beach. Hard to believe we'll be heading home in a few more days!