Before leaving, a friend offered me the illustrated book “Fieldwork FAIL” by Jim Jourdane. I read it twice already (thanks Julie!) and this motivated me to share a few of ours so far. We hope the list won’t be too long… but after 5 months, we are afraid it will! “Fieldwork Fail [is] when things don’t go as planned [for scientists]”
Note: Toda is at Wamba to study why and how bonobo females emigrate from their natal group and Cecile investigates the link between hand-to-mouth behaviors and parasite infection in bonobos.
C: Went to the church on my first Sunday to get to know the local community. Not been able to tell the priest that I am an atheist and thus been asked to serve at the church on Sundays.
T: Used the machete to cut a vine and make our way to the forest. The vine was connected above with a node of dead branches that felt on my head and blocked the way.
C: Came back from a long day in the forest. Saw a bottle of water on the table (a luxury – because we usually boil water from the river). Took a big sip of it. Not water but local alcohol (~80%).
T: Waited for a juvenile female bonobo to finish urinating and leave before collecting her urine. Approached the crime scene with precautions and started sampling. Her mother stopped by and peed on myself ruining my sample collection.
C: Chased the bonobos for several hours before finally being able to see them well and record some data. This was without counting on sweat flies… which love to get inside human eyes.
C: Was doing bonobo observation while two guys pushing a bike passed between my focal subject and I. They were carrying a dead body to the next village.
T: Went to the river to fish with one of our tracker. Throw the line and waited. Waited. Waited... I forgot to attach weight at the end of the lure.
C: Got waken up by water dropping on me in the middle of the night. Realized our leaf roof is not waterproof. Put some plastics on top of my mosquito net and went back to sleep. Water kept dropping between the plastics and created a little water pond on my sleeping bag.
“Comic” scenes of everyday life at Wamba:
- Taking a shower (bucket of water) with a pig
- Trying to do your business while dancing to avoid ants
- Entering data while a goat is snoring or farting at the door
- Sundays = visit days = people bringing presents = live chicken and ducks under the table
- Writing this up while the cat is devouring my midday snack