The second part of Week Three just about poleaxed me with the unexpected. I came back to camp after the mouse lemur discovery, to have Frank and Michelle ask me if I could have a meeting with them behind their tent. I walked back there freaking out that I had done something wrong, screwed up their project, broken the rules, etc. Instead of yelling at me, however, they wanted to know when I would be finished with my project because they wanted to pack up and go to South Africa! I was totally dumbfounded. I probably had the blankest look on my face because I had no idea how to respond to the idea of finishing a week early, and leaving in 3 days. Turns out, they had almost captured all the animals they wanted, and I had almost all of my fecal samples, Anthony was done with his project. In fact, I had been wondering what I was going to do with my last week, since we were almost done with fecal collections, and it’s not like there’s much to do at Beza. I mean, you can…..sleep? Or walk the woods? for the 100th time?
It took us a day to work out the kinks, but ultimately we decided to go for it! So two days later, Frank, Jim, Vehlu, Jim’s student Percy, and I went to Betoiky to try to change our flights and plans around in order to leave Beza early. We drove the 2 hours to Betoiky, and then sat at ‘cafe’, which was really the porch of a street vendor with cell phone service, using a dongle to connect to the internet, for 3 hours… to send THREE emails. Yes, 3 hours to send THREE emails – one to Jackie about the car to come get us in three days, one to the travel agent about changing the flights, and one about my permits. Mind you, all of these emails had been written beforehand, so all we had to do was copy, paste, and send. Internet in the Malagasy boonies just takes that long to load!
We returned from Betoiky in time for dinner, and then a night hike! Cora, Anthony, Jim, and I set out, headlamps in place, to look for mouse and sportif lemurs. And we saw them! Five mouse lemurs, and five sportif lemurs. Madagascar is the only place to see sportif lemurs, since they can’t survive in captivity. Thus, it was a new lemur genera for me, which was amazing.
We finished our fecal collections and captures the next day, and our final day at Beza, we ‘newbies’ went on a hike with Vehlu to Ihazoara Canyon, which was completely amazing. Then we returned, packed up, and left the next morning for Tana and South Africa!