Monday, August 31, 2015

Porcupines and Vervets

From Hadley, at Talek camp
For the past couple weeks, we’ve been at war with a porcupine. Not the most usual of camp pests but he got himself high on the list in a short period of time. Night after night, we would wake up to find tears in the kitchen tent walls, as the porcupine bit and clawed through in search of produce and other food waste. Day after day, Samwell and Chief diligently sewed the tears, glued on new patches of canvas, and created a multitude of barricades to try and deter the pesky porcupine.

We thought perhaps we were starting to get the upper hand; but then the porcupine collaborated with the vervet monkeys. We didn’t stand a chance.

When I went to the kitchen tent in the o dark hours before obs to get ready, I was confronted with the porcupine’s work – a long new tear in the tent and the organic waste bucket toppled over. All I could do at that moment was pick up the pieces and secure one of our makeshift barriers over the tear.

Late that afternoon, when Samwell passed by the solar tent (houses the solar batteries that power many of the tents in camp) where I was working and said, “Monkey’s in the kitchen,” I thought he meant a lone trouble-making vervet monkey had slipped inside, maybe knocked some jars down, and got out.

Little did I know that it was in fact the accomplice of the porcupine bandit of the night. Let us tell you - never underestimate the destructive power of vervet monkeys (especially those with easy access granted by porcupines!). When I walked to the kitchen tent to get some water, I was faced with the full reality of what ‘monky’s in the kitchen tent’ meant.

Cans were thrown off shelves, bread was eaten, and pots and pans were tumbled. As the guys tried to get him out, the little sucker got scared….and so began defecating and urinating. No one wants that in a kitchen tent, so we began our full ‘spring clean’. Every jar, pot, plate, utensil, and object was removed, wiped clean and sanitized (you never realize how any spice jars you have until you have to hand wash each one). Every surface and corner was cleaned, furniture moved, and the tear, once again, sewed up. Take a look for yourselves: 

Jared, Matt, Emily, and Wilson empty the kitchen tent.
Wilson gets into every corner cleaning.
Ciara and Samwell scrup every pot.
Emily and Hadley wash and re-label every spice jar.
Chief sews the tear in the tent wall.

It was days like that that make it hard for me to answer questions like, “What is a normal day like at Fisi Camp?” or “Why don’t we make a schedule of when we are going to get what done?”

Never a dull day in Fisi Camp, never a day when we aren’t reminded of whose home we are in, and how laughable it is to think we have the upper hand on the wildlife. Even with our opposable thumbs.

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