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#DispatchesDNLee: Headed Home


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I’m headed back home. I the moment that this blog will post, I am probably in the air or in a line somewhere in Europe. Visiting Africa was a dream and the research was great. Spending so much time here, 11 weeks, made me miss home.

Oh, I look forward to coming back next year. I learned so much and cannot wait to come back. Okay, yes I can; But I was so often hungry – both literally and figuratively. I lost a little weight, but not as much as I had anticipated. What kind of field biologist doing research in the developing world doesn’t lose all kinds of weight? Sheesh!
Since I am coming back and will stay as long for the upcoming trips, I realized I need somethings to make the time go better.

My top 5 Things to bring on my next trip to Tanzania
1. Lawry’s Season salt
Yes, Tanzania is home to the spice island of Zanzibar, but many dishes aren’t seasoned before cooking. And for most dishes salt is placed on the side of plate as an accompaniment. Plus, I just missed the familiar taste of season salt. (insert Southern Black Girl Joke here)

2.Grits
By my first month here and after a few bouts with tummy troubles and too much Konyagi, all I wanted was a bowl of my momma’s grits to fill my belly and help me feel better. I think I could have managed my days better had I eaten a proper breakfast. Instead I usually skipped breakfast or occassionally scarfed down greasy, bready donuts or beef samosas. Not good.

3. Eye mask
Since the tail-end of my dissertation I have been battling insomnia off and on. I slept okay most of the time, but my sensitivity to light has not been changed. If there is even a crack of light, I cannot fully rest. On weekends and holidays I attempted to sleep in and just couldn’t stay asleep past 7:30 am. I’m an early bird (and a morning person), but even in want to stay in the bed until noon sometimes. Especially if I had a tough day before.

4. Lady products
I need to write an entire post or give a seminar on ‘lady business in the field’, but I found myself wishing I had brought more health and hygiene products to keep myself comfortable and fresh. Sadly, no one really talks about the ‘stuff’ we women field scientists need to do, extra compared to men, to keep our bodies in working order so that we can concentrate on the task at hand. Next time I will be prepared.

5. PC laptop
The PI and I were all gung ho about portability, multi-tasking, and small size of electronic device. I wanted to bring one or two devices that could do everything I wanted: photos, video, spreadsheets, word processing, internet, blah, blah, that was super small and fast. I brought an iPad and an HP tablet. Our lab is Macintosh but we use software, Noldus and Biomark that is ONLY compatible with PC.

I was smoking crack when I thought this would be all at needed.
I was so frustrated with the small processor, slow speeds, and overall glitch unless of that damn tablet (yes, I’m swearing), I was ready to stomp it like a copy machine by week 5. And the iPad is great, especially for quick things, but no external storage. It also fails for downloading and uploading documents. Since I wrote this entire post from the iPad, that means I can’t add any pictures to this post. Sowwies, I’m in the terminal at Dar. It is what it is.

Simply put, I need a full size machine. I’m doing full size science for an extended period of time. Broadband signals wax and wane. I was never able to back up my iPad to the cloud because I didn’t have the capacity to do so. Plus, I was recording long videos. I need a mouse and drives and better ergonomics to get things done.

I hope you have enjoyed coming along on the trip. Dispatches aren’t over yet. I still have some things to share, plus some recaps to do.
But in the meantime, I have got a date with my bed. I miss it soooo much. (lol)

DNLee About the Author: DNLee is a biologist and she studies animal behavior, mammalogy, and ecology . She uses social media, informal experiential science experiences, and draws from hip hop culture to share science with general audiences, particularly under-served groups. Follow on Twitter @DNLee5.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.





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