Today marks my second week in the field looking for the little Ledebouria. I flew into Kilimanjaro airport and took a week to drive to Dar es Salaam where I picked up Dr. Emily Sessa who would be joining me for two weeks. Along the way to Dar I made a stop at Simba Farm whjch is just west of Kilimanjaro mountain. The lovely farm has a river walk hike which much to my surprise was filled with ferns! I knew Emily would love this place so we had to return.
After departing Simba Farm I made my way up the winding road east of Kilimanjaro to Lake Chala on the border with Kenya. The dry landscape was sad to see but succulents abound! It is here that I encounter my first Tanzanian Ledebouria! Sadly, I did not have my permits just yet but I knew I could return. The amazing views of the crater lake are well worth the return trip.
I then made the long trek to Dar which was a beautiful drive with a dry landscape and nonstop mountains. I arrived in Dar to the warm welcome of Jon and Lili. Jon works for the German embassy and I met him while at Simba Farm. He graciously offered his fortified lawn for my tent during mine and Emily's time in Dar since we had to sort out research permits. Emily's arrival was very welcomed since traveling alone isn't too fun. In order to kill time over the weekend we explkred Dar's National Museum, shopping, and scenery. We also took a boat trip to Bongoyo, a small island off the coast of Dar. The hike on the island was beautiful and I encountered another Ledebouria! The island was filled with it and it look awfully simile to the one at Lake Chala. Evenings at the tent were warm but full of lively convos.
Once the office at COSTECH opened, these are the people who give us our research permits, we made a dash for the coordinator and got our permits!!!! We thought we were finished but we then informed that we also needed to apply for a residence permit and that it usually takes 1 - 2 weeks, which is when Emily would be leaving. We were so sad. The secretary told us that we could get them in Arusha so we quickly left Dar and drove two days to Arusha since that's wherd we wanted to start research.
We arrived at the immigration office with high hopes but nervous. We explained our situation to the officer, that we were leavjng in two weeks but had no idea about needing a residence permit to conduct research. Something unnatural must have been watching over us because the officer explained that we could get the permits that day! We basically pay the fees and while the application is processing we get an official letter stating we are residents. Wahoo! Let the research begin!
The next day we booked it to Simba Farm where they agreed to let us collect. On my original visit to the river I thought there a few species of ferns. Turns out there are likely 30 species in one small area of the river!! Emily was ecstatic and so was I. She spent a few hours processing her samples while I enjoyed the view from the farm.
After our adventure at Simba we made a two-day journey to Morogoro, stopping for the night in Babati. The drive from Babati to Morogoro was long but the drive goes into some cloud forests where Emily found more ferns! I then found a Ledebouria near Dodoma after we passed through. Tonight we sleep in comfort at the Acropol Hotel in Morogoro where we are currently enjoying burgers, fries, and sangria. Emily clearly spoils me. If time keeps speeding by like it has been these past two weeks, I'll be home on April 13th before I know it.
As a side note, I have yet to master the squat toilet that is commonly encountered here in Tanzania. #practicemakespermanent