Learning Big Answers From Small Creatures

NG grantee, Cara Brook, reflects on what the small things can tell us about the big picture in Ankarana National Park, Madagascar. (Photo by Amalina Abu-Bakar)
NG grantee, Cara Brook, reflects on what the small things can tell us about the big picture in Ankarana National Park, Madagascar. (Photo by Amalina Abu-Bakar)

Losing Track of Time

Time flies on the Eighth Continent. The summer rains have long given way to the dry chill of a highland autumn here in Madagascar, and the days grow short as night falls abruptly at this southern latitude. Back home, the snow is replaced by a riot of life and color, and as ever, I find myself caught and confused among my many disparate worlds.

“Whoa, time passes!” says my co-worker, Malagasy PhD student Christian Ranaivoson, as he scoops up the rambunctious five-year-old son of our favorite Marovitsika cook. This boy, Andry Kely, was not much more than a baby in a blanket when we first started this work, over two years ago now. Compared to many, I am still a Madagascar neophyte, but daily, the amount of time I have spent here—and the memories amassed—feel less and less insignificant.

“In Madagascar, the days pass like months, and the months pass like days,” a friend of mine told me last week. And I can think of no truer way to describe it—always, in Madagascar, I feel as though I have been here forever simultaneously with hardly at all.

Big Meeting for Small Mammals

I’ve been all over since I wrote to you last: in Marovitsika, Ambakoana, Ankarana, Mantasoa; the east, the north, the middle; chasing fruit bats, tracking pathogens, and watching as my dataset grows into something tangible and sensible, a story knitting itself together at the seams.

I write fresh from a week in the highland resort town of Mantasoa, home to Peace Corps’ Training Center, as well as an idyllic-looking lake chock-full of weekend canoers and Schistosoma mansoni, a disease-carrying parasitic worm. In Mantasoa, —> Read More

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