Thursday, July 31, 2008

new photos

Hi all! I just uploaded new photos from my trip to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, through Botswana. Check them out on

Friday, May 23, 2008

Cape Town --> Botswana

Wow, so it's been two months since I've posted! Sorry about that.

I uploaded the pictures from Cape Town here. Be forewarned that they're not all labeled or in order, and I think there are doubles in there, though I tried to get those out. Also, Flickr is telling me that since I don't have a free account, only the most recent 200 pictures are showing now, so I may move them to a different site. I'll keep you posted. I actually uploaded them a while ago, but I made them private because I wanted to write a blog to go with them. Well here's the very short version: Cape Town was awesome. It's a lot like any other big city in the world. I kept thinking of San Francisco the whole time we were there. We saw Robben Island, Boulder's Beach/Simon's Town (Simon, you have a whole town! And there are penguins in it!), Table Mountain, the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront, the Bo-Kaap neighborhood...I think those were all the big things we saw. I'm pretty sure I'm more of a big city-type girl. Big cities just have so many more kinds of people and things to do, you're never bored. I wish we could have stayed longer. Things were expensive there, though...i guess that's a con of big cities.

Tonight four other girls and i are going through Botswana to Victoria Falls. We don't have everything planned out yet, but we'll probably be in Kosane by Sunday night, hopefully. We're taking buses and coombies and basically lots of sitting time. Luckily yesterday I checked out this used book place in the mall...four used books for under 13 USD! What a bargain. Anyway, yay Botswana! There are lots of nature reserves there, so I'm hoping to at least see some elephants and carnivores. All I've seen so far are zebra, kudu, giraffe, one warthog, and a whole bunch of other ungulates. And of course geckos. Lots of geckos. Our plan is to travel to Kosane, which is very close to the Botswana/Zambia/Zimbabwe border, stay there for a night, then take a day trip into Zimbabwe just to see the falls, then come back to Kosane and hang around Botswana, maybe see the Okavango Delta, Chobe National Park, the Kalahari Desert (where Meerkat Manor is filmed!)...we have lots of options. Wish me luck in Zim.

Some of you may be worried about the reported anti-foreigner violence that's currently happening in South Africa. ( I haven't witnessed any in Pietermaritzburg, although I heard rumors that someone was assaulted here, and that it's happening in Durban, about an hour away. So far it's largely against people from other African countries who are living here, mostly Zimbabweans and people from Mozambique, not against foreign tourists. So don't fret about me.

That's the excitement over here. Other than that, it's been a lot of studying and hanging out with friends. My lectures ended yesterday, and my first final isn't until June 4. I went through a period of being really stressed out, mostly about school, so this trip will be good for me. As for after finals, I'm still not really sure what I'm doing, but at least I know that I'll have a place to live. For a while I thought I wouldn't be allowed to stay in the dorms over the long break. I can, but I'd pay more for it. I want to travel, obviously, but so far I don't have anyone to go with(most people are going back home soon after finals), so I may just try to find a project to do around here.

Thats the haps in Southern Africa! Love and miss you all!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Zoology Nerd is a Terrible Blogger

Sanibona imideni nobagane! (Hello family and friends!) Sorry I've been so lax about updating this thing. Now that I'm in the swing of things, it doesn't seem so exciting to write about. But I'll try for your sake. :)

Today marks the start of Easter vacation. I keep saying spring break, but it’s not spring here, so I get funny looks if I say that. Most of the international people already left, but another girl and I had late classes, and the flights were really expensive since we waited so long to book, so we are leaving on Saturday (which also happens to be my 22nd birthday!). We’re all meeting up in Cape Town, where we’ll stay for a week. I’m not sure what we’re going to see there yet.

Meanwhile, my classes are going fine. Evolutionary Animal Physiology is usually the most interesting. The labs have consisted of: dissecting and disemboweling a monkey (along with a rat and a rabbit); looking at a cow’s stomach, taken out of a dead cow; looking at a cow’s stomach, when it was still inside a living cow; taking samples from aforementioned live stomach and looking at the contents under a microscope; and measuring the metabolism of a cockroach. For the cockroach one, I was one of the brave souls to put my hand in the jar and grab the cockroaches. I’m trying to get over how creeped out I am by them. By the end of it, though, my hand was trembling from anxiety. The cockroaches we used were actually American cockroaches. I could almost hear them singing the national anthem as they were being stuffed into beakers. (Don’t worry, no cockroaches were harmed.) Animal Health is interesting too, because we go out to a farm and examine the animals. So far we’ve examined sheep and vaccinated chickens. I kind of cringed as I was plunging the needle into the chicken, but it was interesting nonetheless.

The big excitement here this week was that the students organized a strike to protest the housing office. Apparently they assigned too few rooms to too many students, so there are a lot of people who were promised housing and now have nowhere to live. There’s been talk that they’re going to force students to share rooms, which would be really hard because the rooms are tiny. They get really excited about protesting here. They dance, sing, chant, etc. They also would run into classrooms and force people to not attend lecture. If they were taking a test, they would tear up the test. This week, they were striking for a second time, because after they protested the first time, the administration made promises with certain deadlines that were not met. Since a lot of teachers were holding tests this week because it’s the week before break, a lot of students looked at the protest as sent from heaven, because a lot of tests were canceled. Out of three, only one of mine was. Bummer. I walked with the strikers a bit. I didn’t have my camera, but a friend of mine did, so maybe I’ll get pictures from her.

Speaking of pictures, I uploaded a lot today on Go here to see them. Enjoy!

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Blurry Times in Durban

I went to Durban with a group of people on Thursday. We stayed in a hostel for the night, and came back Friday afternoon. Here is me at about 11am on Thursday, stoked about seeing the Indian Ocean for the first time:

Here is me about six hours later, also at the Durban beach:

I know neither of them are great pictures, but perhaps you can notice some differences between the two? Difference 1: I'm all wet, and have changed from jeans to boardshorts. We went to a water park just off the beach, and also swam in the ocean a lot. Difference 2: Where it was once sunny and clear, it's overcast. It started raining heavily, just all of a sudden, and then stopped about five minutes later. It was weird. No warning at all. Difference 3: I no longer have glasses on. This is the embarrassing part. When I was in the water park, I was going on water slides, and my glasses fell off at the bottom of one of them. Luckily, one of the guys working there was able to find them and fish them out. But did I use this as a warning to take them off before going in the ocean? No. So now my glasses are enjoying the Indian Ocean. I hope they have a good time. Luckily I brought a spare pair, and some contacts, so I can see now. But the rest of that day and the day after were very blurry. Here is another picture of some of the buildings there, from the beach, when it was still sunny:
Other than the beach and the water park, we walked around a market, and went to a mosque(sp?), where we sat in for part of a prayer. It was interesting. We also had some good Indian food, and walked around the Science Museum and the Art Museum in the city hall. We didn't have enough time to thoroughly do either, but Durban is only about an hour away from Pietermaritzburg, so we'll have lots of chances to go back. While we were there, I also saw these cool trees with some weird fruit:
They're probably not edible, they were just by the side of the street.

Last weekend, the program took us to the PheZulu Safari Park. When we got to the park, the Zulu people did some cultural dances for us, and did a small performance showing how a traditional Zulu man would propose to and marry a traditional Zulu woman. Then they showed us a traditional chief’s hut, and a traditional kitchen hut. Here's a picture of some of the huts:
And this is the Valley of a Thousand Hills, where the park is located:

It was really pretty. After the Zulu culture show, we went to the crocodile feeding exhibit that was also part of the park. The crocs (which were Nile Crocodiles) just looked like statues when we first saw them, and there were so many of them. Then they started throwing meat into the enclosure, and they started going after it. Sometimes you could hear the powerful force of their bite. There was also one tortoise, and a lot of snakes, including a puff adder, night adder, a couple kinds of cobras, an African Rock Python, green mamba, black mamba, boomslang, and a bunch of others. Our guide took out one of the pythons and let us pet it. This gives you an idea of how big the crocs were (this is right after they started throwing food in):

After that, we went to lunch at this nice Afrikaner restaurant called The Pot and Kettle. I would have enjoyed it much more if it wasn’t horribly hot. They sat us outside because we were such a big group, and my seat was in the sun. We filled up four tables, and I think just at my table of six we must have ordered like 30 drinks, because we were so hot. There was a really nice view of the valley though. There was a sign posted on a tree that said “Please do not feed the monkeys”, but sadly I didn’t see any monkeys. This was the view from where were sitting:

Today we went on a tour of Pietermaritzburg, and saw the city center, as well as a township outside of Pietermaritzburg called Mpophomeni, a community center that used to be a prison where Gandhi was held, and Howick Falls, where there was a really cool, huge waterfall. Unfortunately I didn't bring my camera, but other people took pictures, and one even took a picture of me in front of the falls, so I'll get those. Tomorrow I'm going to Tala Game Ranch, in the Eston district near Pietermaritzburg. They have giraffe, rhino, buffalo, zebra, hippo, and a variety of antelope and birds, but sadly no carnivores. So that should be cool. (And hopefully I'll remember to bring my camera!)

In the meantime I hope this satisfies your need for pictures for a while. My classes start on Monday.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Yay! I'm alive!

Hello everyone! Howzit? Sorry it took me so long to write on here! I've been figuring out the internet and everything. I'm in an internet cafe right now and I only have about 8 minutes left so I'll have to make this quick.

South Africa's great! It's really beautiful and everyone is really friendly. Sometimes I have to stop for a minute and think OMG I'M IN SOUTH AFRICA because it's a lot like the US, except that everyone has an accent. So far I've only seen the campus and the shopping stuff really close by. My dorm is nice, even though it's a bit of a walk to campus. I have my own sink. (What decadence!)

So far, the coolest thing has been seeing new common birds and insects. I'll have to take some pictures when I get a chance. I wish I could identify the birds. One of my friends here had a gecko come into her room, and I had told her that I'm into herpetology, so she called me over to see it. It was so cool! So far no interesting spiders. (Sorry Dad!)

My registration was yesterday, but I'm only registered for two classes (Animal Health and Community Ecology) so far because I need to get a couple other classes approved. I'm hoping to get into an Introductory Zulu class and a KwaZulu-Natal history class. It seems like a lot of the international students are also taking Zulu, so it's good that I won't be the only non-South African in the class.

I miss everyone so much. xoxoxoxo Eva

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Birds

Well, I went to my EAP orientation, and now I am even more excited to go than I was before! I think that the month between the end of winter quarter and the day I leave for South Africa will be torture, because I won't have much to do besides think anticipate going. Well that's not true, I'll have lots to do, but it all has to do with leaving, so that doesn't help! Anyway, the orientation was really helpful. There were people who had just returned from going to South Africa that told us all about what to expect. Out of about six people in the South Africa group, I was the only one there going to Pietermaritzburg. My advisor said that there was another girl who was going to be there, but she's in Ghana right now, so I'll meet her when I get there. Most people are going to Durban, while only one guy is going to Cape Town. The returnee from Pietermaritzburg had only good things to say about it. She said that while she and her friends were always on their guard there, it's a safe town, and they never felt like they were in a lot of danger. She also said it will be very hot when I get there.

Yesterday I went on a field trip to Oso Flaco Lake for my class on terrestrial vertebrates. Most of it involved identifying birds. Hours and hours of identifying birds. The only other terrestrial vertebrates we saw were a raccoon and some cows. We also saw some silver argiopes and orbweaver spiders, and a Carabidae beetle, but we didn't have to identify those, and most people weren't interested in them. It was really pretty, but I'm disappointed that we didn't see any herps(amphibians or reptiles). Birds get a little boring for me. Fortunately the weather wasn't too hot, but there was some mist at times that made it hard to identify birds.

It's a bit cold and overcast here in Isla Vista, as you can see from this picture the balcony and front yard in front of my apartment:

It's still pretty though. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Friday, November 2, 2007

First Post

Hello all! The zoology nerd has joined blogland. This blog was created in anticipation of my time in South Africa, which will presumably be more exciting than my life now, but I created it now so that I could look back on Santa Barbara and the U.S. while I'm there missing everything. It's mostly for me, so if you'd like to skip these first few months and come back in January, that's fine with me. My arrival date is January 28-30. In the meantime enjoy sporadic posts about college life on the southwestern edge of the continent.

Today I had to get three shots in preparation to go abroad, so if they don't let me go now, I will be quite mad.

The inspiration for my URL (which I thought long and hard about, let me tell you) is the velvet worm, in the small phylum, Onychophora. It's not actually a worm, but it looks kind of like a caterpillar, and its papillae and scales give it a velvety sheen. About 100 or so species have been described, and at least one of them is endemic to a part of the province of KwaZulu-Natal, in South Africa, very close to where I'll be living. So it's possible I'll actually get to see one if I'm lucky! There's a picture on the left. They vary in color (there are pictures of orange and green ones in one of my textbooks) but that's the best picture I could find that would indicate its size.

Edit: When I first wrote this post, I had a different picture up, and I changed my mind at the last minute. Now I realize that the picture I put up makes it look pretty big. So here's the first picture I put up, which shows how small it is:
Cute, eh?