|Walking on the waters of Lake Manyara|
Thursday, February 9, 2012
Counting Grass and Walking on Water
Today was spent counting the grasses of Lake Manyara National Park.
No, I’m not joking. Yes, it really happened. And no, it wasn’t exactly the neatest field exercise that could happen.
But think of this: who gets to say they walked 400 meters with a square wooden frame, metal pole, clipboard, and bottle of water to count and note the population species densities of grasses in the grasslands near Lake Manyara, beneath the burning sun of East Africa? This girl.
Well, okay, I haven’t sold you yet? That’s alright. Because, at the end of the day, the time was well spent. My morning had been dedicated to finishing a report on baboon behavior. The afternoon to grasses.
Oh, and did I mention the buffalo? The wildebeest, the jackals, and the seeking waters of Manyara?
Let me explain.
After counting grasses our professor pointed towards the lake, which was still about a thousand meters away, and said, “if you’d like, walk to the lake. Do not approach the animals. We’ll pick you up in the vehicles.”
Putting our boots to the mud, we headed off in the direction of the lake. We were running, prancing, leaping, and walking in parts in our headway to the lake. Tourists were nowhere to be found on this side of the park. We had the fields, the lake, the animals, and the entire shore to ourselves. The grasses were tickling our legs as we ran, laughing as we desperately dodged small holes and even smaller rodents and birds. The buffalo and Thompson gazelle nearby watched as we whooped and ran, and in the spirit (at least we think so) they ran with us to the shore’s edge. Jackals and wildebeest trotted along around us, a wary perimeter, observing these two-legged mammals running happily towards the shoreline.
We ran to greet the waters when, in actuality, the waters were on their way to greet us! Lake Manyara is never deeper than 3.9 meters at a time (about 12 feet) and the winds sweeping swiftly across the surface of the waters were pushing the waves closer and closer towards us. Trickles of clear lake water were creeping across the dry, cracked earth. We stood still as the waters flowed around our shoes and towards the grasses behind us.
If one looked at just the right angle, it looked as if a person were walking on water. And that day, I believe, we were all floating a few inches of the ground, our cheerful spirits carrying us across these wild, untamed, and beautiful lands.