How long did it take for you to adjust to the time zone there?
Tanzania is eight hours ahead of my home time zone, CST. When my family is waking up, I am wrapping up my day. When I first arrived, it was hard for me to go sleep before midnight.
Now, I can fall asleep just fine, but I’m not on any schedule per say. I keep such close tabs on what’s happening in the west that I’m mentally on a 24 hr clock.
When I wake up, the first thing I do is check my Facebook, Twitter and email. I can usually catch up with people because it’s late night for you all.
Which naturally gets into another question I have been asked:
What’s a typical day like for you?
The roosters start crowing around 4 am (though they really do crow all day and occasionally start as early as midnight. Oy vey). When I first got here I set my alarm for 6 am. Now I don’t bother. Most of the time I wake up around 4:30/5:00 am (That’s how I’m able to get online so early in the morning). I’m up with the sun and out of the door by 7am.
I pick up my field assistant from Sokoine University of Agriculture. He makes this research possible. His skill at handling these animals is invaluable…and he wears no gloves!!!
I check my traps and by 10:30am I am usually done. The more animals I have, especially new captures, the longer it takes. Fortunately, I’ve been catching many animals and it takes time to handle and process them.
I never get around to eating breakfast, and by 10 I am starving. I try to drop in at APOPO and get a cup of chai if I can.
I do some paperwork or computer work during the day. Lately, I’ve been shadowing APOPO research staff trying to learn more about the animals they are raising in captivity. I’d like to get some observations done before leaving. We’ll see.
I have lunch and I buy bait from the local market on campus.
The remainder of the afternoon I do more paperwork, except for Tuesdays and Thursdays. On those days I have my kiSwahili lessons. My Mwalimu (teacher) says I am doing well. Other wise, I rest up a bit.
Around 4 pm I prepare my bait. Cutting up bananas and corn cobs.
Cricetomys love bananas!
I try to let the sun go down a little before going back out to the field to bait the traps and re-set them. (I close my traps after I check them in the morning). I have learned I need to do this by 6 pm or it will get dark on me. There isn’t any building or street lighting here. When the sun goes down, it’s down. By 7 pm it is dark.
After that, I come back to the rest house. Clean up – the truck, my buckets, and myself. I have dinner by 7 pm, which is usually at a restaurant. I attempted cooking for myself, but I lack the energy or creativity to make meals. Also, the cost of purchasing cooked meals is sometimes cheaper than buying groceries.
Have I adjusted to the time, yes. I wake up and get things done without being groggy. But I often wake up early, especially on weekends when I’m not trapping and I have every intention of sleeping in. I haven’t slept past 7:30 yet. Shucks!
And if you want a Dispatches from Tanzania Postcard, please complete the request form.
Finally, thank you so much for everyone’s support and generosity. I get encouraging tweets and Facebook messages all of the time. And if you would like to donate, the link below will take you to my Paypal page.
Secrets of the Universe: Past, Present, FutureX