It's my last taste of modern technology before we set off for the field. Unless you count land rovers as modern tech. Okay, fine. But no internet and we'll only have cell reception for the first week. Then...nothing. And in fact since I won't have a way to charge my phone there is really no point in using it except in emergencies or the quick call to my sweetie to say I love you.
So we have 37 students this year. Did I just say that? Yes, it's true. That includes the Kenyan students. I had thought there were fewer and I suppose it's possible that I have miscounted but I don't think so. 37. That's a lot. The entire caravan going to Koobi Fora will be 67 people and once we're at base camp more folks will fly in ending in a grand total of 80 people...give or take one or two. Yes, the Koobi Fora Field School is a major operation. I am in awe at the fact that it runs more or less without a hitch. Okay, we'll have vehicle breakdowns and so forth but basically things will run fairly smoothly.
Our first stop is Mugie Ranch which is located in the Laikipia Region just north of Nairobi. It's a 6-8 hour drive. Could be shorter if we had fewer people and no luggage, but that's just not the case. We are planning to leave in the morning but I am guessing, based on previous experience that we will leave later than planned.
Mugie is a rhino sanctuary. About 50,000 acres according to Jack. They also have other big game (elephants, giraffes, lions, leopards, hyaenas, buffalo, lots of smaller bovids, etc.). I've been there before but only for a day. This time we're spending the whole ecological portion of the field school there. I'm very excited. It's a beautiful ranch. And if you want to pay about $1000 you can stay in a very posh resort on the ranch for a night. I mean VERY posh. Super duper swanky. It's a little out of my price range.
I think the student group is a good one this year. And I am so impressed with myself because I have managed to memorize all of their names pretty much immediately. Melanie and I were in charge of coordinating room assignments so I was writing their names down as I was meeting them. Helps a lot.
Anyway, I should probably sign off. I just got an email from someone inviting me to participate in a symposium honoring my former advisor, Elizabeth (see previous posts from Ethiopia for more on her). She passed away a couple of months ago. Naturally, I am eager to be involved in the symposium. The point is I need to respond to this person before I leave the internet cafe. So...
Wish us a productive field season and I'll write again in 6 weeks!