Sunday, October 23, 2011

Four more weeks!!

Hi all! Happy Sunday! It’s been a long week here for us at TBI. We just finished our presentations and exams for our Paleontology class yesterday so everyone is really happy to be able to finally relax. Throughout the week, we went fossil hunting again and in one site we got to do a little bit of excavating and sieving. Sieving is a way of putting soil/sand into a net to pick out small fossils that might be missed by the naked eye. We all got really dusty and a bit sun burnt on that day but otherwise everyone had a lot of fun and is well and happy.

Sunday is a special day here for us all because it is the only day we get off, and you may wonder what DO we do around here on Sunday? Well it depends. Sometimes we go into town to restock on snacks, sometimes we go on mountain hikes, sometimes we go swimming by the lake, and on one weekend we even went into town to help plant some trees in remembrance of Kenya Nobel Prize winner, Wangari Maathai, so you can see aside from academic activities we also get exposed quite a bit to the local culture here. Interesting note, most of the locals here are Christian so a lot of the stores in town are closed on Sundays.

As for today I just decided to stay behind and relax with two other TBI students, and when the other students came back from town with the traditional kikoy cloths we couldn’t resist getting dressed up and getting lots of pictures. For those pictures please refer to fellow blogger Roy Lots’s post regarding today, and while you’re there Roy also has a fascinating interview with one Linkof our TBI staff members that’s well worth of reading (you can find his page here ).

Picture time!

TBI students and Meave Leakey at Esha, a late Miocene site.

Students hovering over a sieve to pick out fossils.

Students sweeping the floor for fossils and sand to put into sieve.

Students celebrating rain!

Until next time! :)

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Hi all! It’s been awhile but exciting things have happened since my last post. First of all, it has been raining here randomly the past three nights and temperature has gone down quite a bit because of it. I’m actually wearing a long sleeve sweat shirt as I’m writing because it’s a bit chilly. The rain was definitely a surprise for most of us and when it did rain we all woke up in the middle of the night to take it in. Second, we are now moving along into our third module: Paleontology and Ancient Environments of the Turkana Basin with Rene Bobe, Meave Leakey and Fredrick Manthi who have all been keeping us busy with class. A lot of material is covered in this class since it is taught by three people and we are all trying very hard to absorb all that is being taught. Rene Bobe especially is teaching us all sorts of things about animals, from their evolutionary history to what they eat to every bone in their body; I’m proud to say I now can identify most bones on many animals, which is something I had little knowledge of before this. We have also gone fossil hunting twice now and on our second trip I’ve had the luck of finding the teeth of an extinct giraffe specie named sivatherium, which is said to be the first of its kind found here at South Turkwell, another hooray!
Since we didn’t really go anywhere too far recently I thought I could tell you guys what a typical day is like here at TBI. Here is a schedule of a regular class day;
7-7:30am- wake up
8am- breakfast
8:30am- 12pm – class with tea and biscuits somewhere in between
12pm- 3:30pm – lunch/break/nap
3:30 – 5pm or 6 – class/lab/study
5:30 – 8:00 – break/study/shower (sun sets at 7pm)
8:00 – dinner
10pm/11pm- sleep
So there you go, that’s how we spent most of our days here when we are not going out. We usually take a big break after lunch because it gets very hot in the afternoon, and since there is no air conditioning it’s very hard to concentrate so we resume class at 3:30 when things cool down a bit.
Here are some pictures of us going about in our daily activities:

Fossil hunting with Meave Leakey.

Removing sand/soil off of fossil.

Sivatherium (an extinct giraffe-like specie) found on erosion surface 3 days ago.

Students examining different bones of animals.

A typical lunch at TBI.

Students enjoying lunch after spending the whole morning outside.

Students in class.

Skulls at the TBI lab.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Ecology of the Turkana Basin with Dino Martins

Hello everyone, a lot has happened since I last posted. After our trip to Lothagam we wrapped up our Geology module with a test and a trip into town to Lodwar that weekend. There we said good bye to our professor, Craig Feibel who normally teaches at Rutgers, and explored a bit of town. Like most town centers, Lodwar is where all the stores are, where people come to buy food or sell food, where people come to see the doctor, where the bank is and so on. We had an interesting time there buying local snacks and received quite a good amount of attention since we stood out so much from the locals.

The following week, we began our second module, Ecology of the Turkana Basin with Dino Martins and so far we’ve been having a blast. When we’re not in class, Dino has us running all over the place observing and catching all kinds of insects and plants. I think I might have learned more about bugs and plants here in the past week than I have in all my twenty-two years of schooling (that’s what happens when you grow up in the city). Bees for example, are extremely fascinating insects with very complicated lives, who knew?

Other highlights of these past two weeks;

1. According to Dino, we caught parasites and bees that have never been studied so far.

2. We climbed the Napodet Hills, which is a series of hills about an hour away from TBI.

3. We all started our own projects for our ecology class; mine explores how rainfall affects the Turkana region, others have taken up to studying the decomposition of animals, ants that live in hot climates, the pastoralist community around here and etc.

4. We explored the Kerio River Delta and made some new friends.

5. We visited a nearby farm to learn how a small group of women have taken up to sustainable farming, and then sung songs for them.

Till next time! :)