Sunday, September 20, 2009

Welcome to Ranomafana, Madagascar! Home of Centre ValBio and Ranomafana National Park.

I have been in the rain forest for a week now and it has only rained once! I’m enjoying living in my tent since it has been 65 degrees at night. It gets dark here around 6:30 PM and the stars are so bright and there are so many of them! During the day it is usually very warm, sunny and slightly breezy; absolutely gorgeous!

We get a 3 course meal 3 times a day, and the food is so good! We haven’t repeated a meal yet, but my favorites have been fresh eggs and yogurt in the morning, tomato, carrot salad, beans and rice for lunch, soup and vegetable cassarole for dinner, and fresh pineapple for dessert! I love getting fresh juice every morning. Before the first day of class there was a big party at Centre ValBio where we were able to meet all the other students and staff. Everybody had a great time and there was a delicious buffet and a lot of dancing!

We started the Biodiversity course on Tuesday. We’ve learned everything in a semester long class in 5 days! We’ve been going into Ranomafana National Park every day for hikes and night hikes to see lemurs, chameleons, frogs, birds and really interesting insects. So far I have seen the eastern grey bamboo lemur and multiple families of the common brown, and their baby! Plus we have been learning about the endemic and medicinal plants found in Madagascar and why the rain forest is disappearing so quickly. We have also been learning how to do surveys in the forest, so we will be able to do them on our own for our independent research projects. We start out next course, Primate Behavior with Professor Brandon Wheeler, on Wednesday. But first we are going on a 8 hour hiking trip to Bevohazo on Monday to stay overnight and learn about the forest along the way.

Today is my day off, so I am in town where there is a big market in the street where I can buy little handicrafts and homemade soap. There is a little internet café here that is slower than snail mail, so I will try to update my blog whenever I can, but I can’t guarantee it. Also, regular mail (like a postcard and stamp) is hard to come by, so I don’t think I’ll be able to send any letters either.

I hope everyone is enjoying the seasons change back home!