Field work in Zambia: from dawn to dusk

Recently, I was asked to describe a “normal” day of my field work in Zambia. It could be like the following…

View from my room in the morning.

6.00 am: Alarm rings, press snooze button. 6.30 am: after choosing the snooze option four times finally getting up. The sun is already awake and waiting for me. Matata (a black Labrador) as well. 7.00 am: the divers from the village come to have our daily meeting on what fish to catch today. Although I love to dive and catch fish by my own, there is simply not enough time to do it regularly since I work at the experimental ponds many hours per day. 7.30 am: Breakfast. Fried eggs, tomatoes, onions, bread, honey, peanut butter…after 50 days, I begged for porridge and fruits which the cooks are happy to prepare for me each second day. Today was porridge day by the way. A good day! 8.30 am: start experiments at the ponds with the fish that have been caught the previous day. 1 pm: finishing up for lunch break. Stomach already loud and grumpy. 1.30pm: Lunch!!!!! Eat so much that I can barely walk. 2.30 pm: back to work. It’s hard. Wanna pass out on the couch enjoying the easy breeze. 4.00 pm: finish testing. Start transferring data to hard drive, plan which fish to catch the next day, planning, paperwork. 6.00 pm: always want to spend this hour before dinner doing some sports. Never do it. Usually take a swim or lay on my bed. 8.30 pm: night dive to catch some fish that are hard to catch during the day but sleep during night. 10.00 pm: pass the fuck out.

This lovely leaf with legs slept next to me last night.

Actually I struggled a lot to describe a “normal” day because if one thing is true for field work: no day is the same. Sometimes I go to Mpulungu to do some shopping or sort out things at the immigration. Sometimes I have kind of off and climb the Kalambo Falls nearby. Sometimes I lay in bed with diarrhoea or Malaria. Sometimes I spend a lot of time in the water to catch fish myself. Field work is challenging, unpredictable, exhausting, frustrating, exciting, beautiful, fuuuuuuuun and never ever boring.

Published by caribiologist

Postdoc at the University of Basel, Switzerland

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