Arrival-Bus Journey-Market-The Hike- Stream washing- Lion D’Or- Fieldwork-Bird ringing- Czech arrivals-Small Persol- Stars and planets- Various foods
07/11/2016- Arrived in Yaounde in the Evening having started the long journey from Warsaw at 04:00. Stepped off the plane and was instantly hit by humidity and heat. We took a short drive to the hotel where we were staying that night. First impressions of Cameroon were that it is very lively! The roads seem to have no rules, just drive. There was lots of music playing and people selling various foods at the side of the road. We got to the hotel and left our stuff so we could go and eat. We were all security checked and scanned before being allowed into the bar. We had some amazing fish cooked by a “big mamma”. I noticed the moon was upside down and looked like a thin smile in the sky, a nice welcome to my first time in Cameroon.
08/11/2016- Got a taxi to the bus station, this involved me (the smallest of the group) sitting on the gear box section. It was very busy but I went with Paweł to buy the bus tickets. This was just a small, windowless hut. We waited for a couple of hours, filling the time by eating bananas, doughnuts and drinking beer. When the bus set off a preacher gave a very expressive speech about how Jesus was with us on this journey and would keep us safe. He was extremely passionate. The journey in total lasted about 8 hours and was pretty horrid. We were in a huge coach but the roads are so pot-holed that we were constantly swaying from side to side and being bounced around. By the end of it I felt so ill. Every now and then the bus would stop and local people would try and sell food through the windows, at one point a couple of women actually got on and rode with us for few hundred meters. We arrived in Bamenda and quickly got a taxi to Big Babanki. We met Ernest, the man who helped arranged everything for us. Everyone was saying that we are welcome which was nice.
09/11/2016- Market day is mad. We went to Bamenda and set up camp in a bar for the day. In small groups we delved into the market and searched for what we needed to take up to the mountain. There is everything you can think of. Me and Kasia were put in charge of getting toilet rolls and went quite over the top. The smells were amazing, especially near the spice markets. It was quite exciting trying to barter with the different characters. At the end of a very long day we headed back to Big Babanki with all our goods.
10/11/2016- Today was the day of the hike. It was so hard. Local guys helped carry our bigger bags and market goods up. We all walked at different paces. Paweł took the lead and I broke off from the others in a desperate need to just get to the top. We both ended up walking together for the second half of the hike. I was so tired that he ended up taking my bag for me. The landscape is beautiful, although apparently a lot of the forest that was there last year had disappeared to make way for fields. We made it to the top and set up our tents. There is a small hut up there for all our equipment and food and apart from that its just the birds, bees and trees with us. I went with Kasia to the stream and we had our first wash in days. The water was so cold!!!! But i didn’t care, I just wanted to feel clean. I tried my first sachet of local whiskey, Lion D’Or. It is 45% and tastes like caramel.
11/11/2016- First day of fieldwork. Went with Tomasz to find boubou pairs for our experiments. It was nice to see more of the forest. After being out all morning we got back and everyone enjoyed lunch. Me and Kasia tried to find the stream to wash our clothes but got completely lost. In the afternoon I went with Paweł and Adrian to check other territories and we did some bird watching. We sat and looked out at the amazing view over the valley. We saw a beautiful African Blue Flycatcher. Today I saw my first boubou.
12/11/2016- More fieldwork today. Me and Kasia were more successful and actually found the stream so we could wash our clothes.
13/11/2016- First day of experiments. We completed 5 playback experiments which was so exciting. Got back to camp and did the usual. As it is Sunday we got to drink our nice whiskey we had brought from Europe. Me and Kasia played cards with the Czech boys which was fun. Although I usually lost!
14/11/2016- Bird ringing in Africa!!!! I helped Paweł with his bird ringing today. We caught lots of different species. Greenbuls, wattle-eyes, african thrush, pin tailed whydah, various sunbirds, and A YELLOW BREASTED BOUBOU! I got to see how to take blood from a bird, we took feather samples and applied colour rings so we can identify specific individuals for experiments next year. Whilst writing down all the measurements we decided that Paweł would help me learn Polish numbers. They are so hard!
15/11/2016- New people arrived at camp today. The team from the Czech Republic. Now the camp was very busy but it was a nice change. As the surroundings of the camp were our bathroom, bees decided to show up. Lots of bees. They didn’t bother us though, just hummed a lot.
16/11/2016- Usual field work in the morning. In the afternoon me, Kasia and Adrian hiked up the smaller of the two mountain peaks near our camp. The view was amazing. We could see Big Babanki in the distance, I couldn’t believe we had walked that far to get to camp. In the evening we all sat around the camp fire like normal. We did some star gazing. Every night we can see Mars and thousands of stars. I learnt a new constellation, the swan. It was so peaceful.
17/11/2016- Another bird ringing day. Me and Paweł experimented with rice. First we had it with mayo, tomatoes and some mystery hot spice. Then later we had it with Tartina, the local chocolate spread. Both dishes were very tasty! I went to try and record new boubou pairs in the afternoon but they weren’t calling. In the evening there was a storm, we all stood under the shelter and watched it. It was so exciting. After it passed we got warm around the fire. Michał made batats (sweet versions of white potatoes) in the ashes of the fire. Sprinkled with some salt they were amazing!!