I am writing to you today from the middle of the forest – literally! Our internet café here is on the buttress of one of the really big trees; I’m perched on a root watching a very long, burgundy millipede walk past. He has neon orange feet.
So I made it to the rainforest on Thursday night, late, after a long day of driving from Abidjan. Though our plan was to take significantly longer in our drive and get there in two days, Bertin decided to drive all the way through (we were also bringing two 10-year-olds from Abidjan, and the mother of one of the other field assistants). So we got in late Thursday night and ate a lot of spaghetti with a tuna sauce. I stayed up talking with my friend Noah, who has been here for a month. On Friday, I stayed in camp to do some setting up and arranging of things, but it worked out great because while I was relaxing on the hammock (reading Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy), I heard something rustling in the tree next to my house. When I looked over, there was a solitary, youngish adult male lesser spot-nosed guenon.
He may be the same guy who hung out around the house last time I was here – though I would have hoped it wouldn’t take him a full year to find a new group of females and raise a happy family of lesser spot-nosed guenons. Then I was imagining that perhaps he is just a misanthropic (misguenonthropic?), disaffected youth who thinks everyone else is a phony and so he’s spending all his time alone, mocking everyone else. I’ve decided to call him Holden. (I promise not to anthropomorphize all the monkeys …)
This morning, Noah and I went out with Ferdinand to follow one of the groups of Diana monkeys I’ll be following. Noah is collecting some data on how they use their forelimbs to complement the data I collected last year on mangabeys in order to publish something cool about foraging and forelimbs, and maybe follow it up with some dissections when we get back to the US! I started working on identifying foods and females in that group, but we only went out for a half day. However, during that half day, I collected TWO FECAL SAMPLEs and TWO FRUITS!!!! The first data of my dissertation!
Tomorrow, we’ll try and spend all day with the group and finish up with that data collection. One of the veterinary students leaves soon, so there will be a fete tomorrow night. Monday, the plan is to get everything cleaned up and organized around camp. I will probably try to come out to the internet again on Monday as well and report anything exciting…