Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The many hats of Maron-y

Besides lemur research, I have many duties at camp that may or may not be within my sphere of experience. These include:

1. Scorpion slayer. There is literally a scorpion under every single rock. And there are rocks literally everywhere. I actually had one directly on my big toe while bathing (with a bucket of water and a cup), but thankfully did not get stung. Scorpions are the most dangerous critter in Madagascar, which is good (good because there are no lions) and bad (bad because they are everywhere and can put you into cardiac arrest). Like any good biologist, what do I do with said scorpions? Kill them. With a shovel. Lets hope karma does not exist.

A freshly slayed scorpio:

2. Chicken wrangler. It did take some getting used to, but I can now catch my own chickens and put them to bed. When I get close they make their "uhhh I am unsure and I am a chicken" noise and give me the stink eye. Then, they either run around in circles or sit down. If they sit, I can just pick them up. If they run around, I have to corral them back to their day pen (which they are never in during the day because they are chronically escaping) and then grab them. To bed they go!

Here is my favorite chicken, Stevie:

3. Death sniffer. Apparently I have the nose of a blood hound. I can smell death like nobody's business. I was even lucky enough to sniff out a wee dead baby lemur. "Lucky" in that I was able to clean up the carcass and keep the bones, which I can now use to potentially identify baby lemur bits consumed by lemur predators.

Awe, poor little dead baby maki:

4. Fecal expert. Seriously. I know every turd in that forest. Boy, after a sentence like that I sure feel like I took a wrong turn in life somewhere.

Fossa poop:

5. Track expert. This one might be my favorite. The animals all have forest paths that they use. Some paths are heavily traversed by all (think freeway) and some are species specific (think bike path).

Giant Malagasy Hissing Cockroach tracks:

5. Osteological consultant. This one just sounds good.

Here is a small piece of the occipital bone from a ring-tailed lemur, compared to an intact lemur skull:

6. Gas station. Yes, I have barrels of gasoline that I dispense with a water bottle. Carcinogen? Smeh. Flammable? Smeh.

Generator time. Doesn't the generator look "retro cool?" It says it is anyhow.

7. Arms surveyor. I was sick for a couple of days in camp and was taking a mid-morning nap when Bronwyn woke me up. "Um, Marni, there are men in camp with guns," she said. I replied, "Ok. Are they shot guns or Ak-47s?" Like it matters. Bronwyn didn't know, so I got up to take a look. They were in fact AK-47s, but everything was fine. The gandarme dudes were just looking for Omby thieves. Automatic weapons are everywhere here. In fact, yesterday I saw a man riding a bike with an AK-47 slung casually over one shoulder.

NO PHOTO- I figure its best not to push my luck here.

8. Bread maker/ egg cooker. Once a month, on Sunday, I make bannock and it is unbelievably good. Daily, I make fried eggs. This job is not without significant personal risk. Once, a piece of hot greasy partially fried egg flew out of the plan and, WHAP, stuck to my forehead. Ouchie!

Check out my poor burned forehead:

9. Fearless leader. When I say fearless, I really mean not-so-bright but eager to explore. And when I say leader, come on, what I really mean is bossy.

That about sums up the many hats of Maron-y. Which reminds me, that the name game continues. In Madagascar I am Maron-y:

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