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Hello. I'm Sean and I live in Japan. I'm glad you've come because I need you to do something for me.

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Wednesday, January 12, 2011


I realize that my blog yesterday ended with a bit of a negative tone to it. I think that my homesickness is really just the manifestation of my frustration. The 'research' that we applied for was set up to attract biologists, and required the corresponding degree and experience in the field to be considered.

Therefore, when you show up to a place and realize that you're doing the work that anyone with a notebook can manage, it is inevitably frustrating. Partly because I feel like I have been duped and partly because I could be better spending my time seeing this country or it's many neighbours. Our Solution? We've had several talks with Darja over the past day and we've decided that our concerns should be expressed. Either this program needs to evolve to offer what it promises at a distance, or it should be targeted to everyone until such a time as they wish to make it more specialized.

I may have still come if there was simply a volunteer position to 'habituate and observe primates for two weeks', but don't offer me cake and give me crumbs. It's only been a week and I will give it more time, it is just really sad that such a valuable opportunity to do something real and novel is being squandered. Those are my qualms, maybe when voiced some changes will be made - as I have eluded to before, we are pretty much in on the ground floor, and I think our suggestions and even outward cynicism will be necessary to help this project advance to its full potential. This trip, and volunteer position, has been in my mind since I got accepted back in the summer - so I hope that it is understandable that I am a little disappointed.

Let me tell you the positives. Even the job of habituating these monkeys for tourism is important for tourism and adding money to the community. Win. Uganda is truly a beautiful country, and with the odd exception of course, the people are very friendly. Win. The staff and members of the other branches of the MCDO umbrella organization are all very friendly and helpful, and a pleasure to be around and talk to. Win. I already feel better after a couple days in Kisoro, and am in a much more positive mood.

Now as promised, pictures:

The golden monkey guest house is the headquarters for MCDO in Kisoro and is a great place to stay with very friendly staff. I believe the man in front identified himself as Saturday. I am not sure and even had to ask twice.

An example of the sort of hodge-podge nature of the clothing exhibited. These kids and their flashy suits just happened to pose in a way that looked like a Christian rock album cover.

The gate house to Mgahinga National Park. There are gorillas in there we're told, but we're trying to count on stumbling across them - instead of paying the $500 cover to anyone else.

Mt. Muhabura, the tallest of the three Virungas, stands as the constant backdrop of daily life in the park. Aptly named 'the guide' it can be seen for miles.

The pictures beneath are kind of an overview of the forest, and the pictures really don't do its magnificence justice. The first is a picture of the very high forest canopy, and the second of the thick bamboo that makes for the thickest parts of the woods. After that is an obligatory picture of the monkeys so that you know I'm really looking at them - and last but not least is a picture of our ranger, Ben, resting in a clearing. The low resolution of the photo doesn't really do it justice, but it is my favourite picture from here to date.

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