This week we are starting our independent projects. We’ll do them for a few weeks and then present our findings at 2 different places. I decided to study the local freshwater crabs. It’s something that has really never been looked at in this area, so I’m excited to see what I can discover about the diversity and abundance of Ranomafana’s crabs. So far I’ve been out into the field twice to collect data. I’m also working alongside 2 girls that are studying Madagascar’s crayfish in the same locations as me. The way we are doing our collection is by walking in different shallow streams in 200-meter sections. We go with a Malagasy guide who is very experienced working in streams. The 4 of us flip over rocks and try to catch crayfish and crabs using only our hands. It’s really fun and we’ve been finding about an equal number of crabs and crayfish, which is good because everyone has plenty going on. I want to visit at least 8-10 different locations to see how many species of crabs I can find and identify.
This Friday is Halloween and this week is a lemur festival in the local town. It started off on Saturday day with a parade that we walked in and then we watched about 3 hours of introduction speeches that were all conducted in Malagasy so I didn’t understand a word of it. It was really hot and sunny that day so we sat in the shade until we left for lunch at 12. Then at 2pm on Saturday we had a basketball game. 6 people from our group formed a team for a small tournament that was a part of the festival. None of us were very skilled players and we played a full team of young Malagasy men that were pretty damn good. We also got 2 researchers from Centre ValBio to be on our team. There is a court in the center of the town and there were probably more than 500 people watching the game. The court is made up of some gravel and plenty of rocks so it was a big challenge to dribble the ball. There were referees who were calling fouls so it was pretty organized. We ended up losing 54-46. That was a great time and was probably the most people I ever played any sport in front of.
There is a Malagasy man who works at CVB that is part of a band and he has seen me play the guitar a few times here. Their band is playing at the festival this Friday on Halloween and there is also a big party organized by CVB that night. He invited me to play with his band at that performance and 1 girl in the group is going to sing. I told her to pick the songs she wanted to do so we’re playing Come Together, Sweet Home Alabama and Rude. On Sunday he drove us to a city called Fianar, which is about 90 minutes away for band rehearsal. He has a really nice setup with a great sound system and drumset there. So their band learned those 3 songs and I pretty much already knew them. That was a good experience and I’m looking forward to the real performance tomorrow.
I’m trying to get some pictures together, and if my internet ever cooperates while I want to use it I’ll attach them later to this update. I’ll see you all soon and I have plenty of pictures and stories to share.