Friday, February 25, 2011

Preparations are Underway!

I'm down to four days, now, and while I still haven't finished putting together the final versions of the field collection protocol, I am trying to finish everything ELSE in order to give myself more time to finish those things.

Today I revamped this blog, importing my elements into a more modern setting and adding the ever-important social networking buttons.  Ha! Web 2.0 eat my face.

Each of the field teams is getting a GPS and a Nikon Coolpix camera, and I set up the two field kits today, labeling EVERYTHING since, if I don't, I am SURE it will get confused and "lost"...

None of the field teams will have the means to offload SD cards or charge lithium batteries, facts that caused me to go with the Coolpix.  It uses regular old AA batteries, and buying extra SD cards is extremely easy and cheap.  Sure, batteries in Congo come from China and are crappy as hell, but they're easy to come by in case the guys run out of good old USA Duracells that I'm bringing with me.

The time pre-field is always a bit exciting.  There's so much to coordinate, and lots of things that need to be procured.  And then they arrive, and it's like FIELD Christmas!  My cat Radagast absolutely loves the inclusion of all these boxes in the apartment, because he's a box whore and loves lying on/around/in boxes.  He has methodically been testing each box to see which one is most comfortable.  I'll ask him to post here later and let you all know which one he chose.

I got a new GPS that is supposed to work better in the field, and ideally improve my coordinates and give me a better dataset to work with, comparing mining sites and chimp faecal collection sites.  It doesn't look THAT much different than my old one, but man did it cost a LOT more.  Bleuch.

I will eventually post a big thank you list, speaking of money, acknowledging my extremely generous friends who have essentially facilitated the quickest field trip I have ever had to throw together.  The decreased time factor made a bunch of things difficult, but with the help of collaborators and friends, I think I am actually going to be able to pull it off!  And of course, my mother, who bought my plane tickets and a new tent when we discovered my old one was past repair.  She is truly a Foundation for OverAmbitious Daughters, and I endeavor to tell her all the time that I couldn't do any of this without her support.

Yes, my apartment does indeed look like a tornado of packing and preparing today;  boxes and sharpies and big internal frame packs.  Lots of little elements, in a neat little line. And soon, in a neat little bag.  I do like the idea of having nothing but what I can carry on my back, and SOON, it will be a reality!

I now have my visa, my tickets, my schedule, a pickup from the airport, a place to stay in Kinshasa, and a general idea of people I need to see while there.

Adam and I are trying not to be emotional, and save our sad goodbyes until they're really necessary on Tuesday.  I've always enjoyed leaving the country as a sort of hard reset.  Unhappy? Unsatisfied? Leave the country! Things will inevitably change!

But I'm actually extremely happy in New York this go 'round.  And particularly satisfied, and content not only with my circle of friends, but eager to see how interactions with them will blossom and grow.  Suddenly "Things will inevitably change!" takes on a nefariously terrifying tone, and I worry that everything I've established here will crumble in my absence, and that, at the end of the world, everyone I care about will forget all about me!

... I didn't say I was logical.

My flight this trip will take me around 36 hours. Here's my itinerary for the interested:

It's essentially LaGuardia to Montreal, Montreal to Brussels, Brussels to Douala, Cameroon, and then to Kinshasa.

Thank goodness I'll have my iPad with me! Suggestions for books I should download to read while I'm in the field (where I traditionally read a LOT) are always accepted! 

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