Being back in Aketi feels surreal -- but also wonderful. I forewent an immediate hot bath to walk down to our café and have a cold beer with Adam. The forest really shrunk me, though. I could barely finish half the beer, and when Adam ordered 2 sodas afterwards, I could barely get through a third of the Coke (and wow, carbonation is EVIL!)
I have nearly an entire journal full of entries, and GPS points, and data from the trip, I have to pay salaries, and I’m not quite sure that I don’t have ischial callosities from all that motorcycle riding.
I’m not sure what to do first, but part of me just wants to have a “check out” day where I lie in bed and watch old episodes of Deadwood on my computer with Adam.
Djodjo, our head caregiver, came by yesterday, eyes glassy, his roughened, pockmarked face pinched in barely controlled sadness. I knew how he felt -- though Souza had been in better shape than Akuma ever was, the death of an infant - whether fostered or another species, is heartbreaking.
We discussed what had happened with Souza, and Djodjo had, in fact, done everything that I probably would have in similar situations. I can’t say that things would have been different had I been here, but I still feel guilty for having left.
Such is the difficulty of dual responsibility -- had I stayed, I would have sacrificed any thesis I could have written as a result. And, at the time, Souza seemed to be in good health and I never imagined that he would die.
But this lesson is a hard one - and chimpanzees away from their mothers do have precarious health. I just feel more resolved than ever to move the rest of the chimps east to Lwiro. Maybe I couldn’t save Souza, but there are still five chimpanzees here who need saving.
Oh, and the neighbours stole our cat.
In wonderful news, the US House passed a bill banning purchasing or selling non-human primates for the pet trade [thank you to John B for sending the link!)
Now we must wait for final passing in the Senate, etc, but if it is successful, no more chimpanzees as pets in the US!
If only this legislation didn’t cause a huge spike in the hits on my blog for “chimpanzees for sale as pets”...