Tuesday, October 16, 2007

White Ruffed Lemurs & Spiked Caterpillars

White-ruffed lemurs are also on Nosy Mangabe. It can be quite a hike to get to them, but since hiking is so pleasant on Nosy Mangabe, this is not an issue. "What?!?" my friends are saying to themselves, "Did you just describe HIKING as pleasant?? YOU?!" It's true that I generally resist physical activity. I just hate it - the sweating, the effort, pretty much everything about it. It's always felt like a huge waste of time to me. But somehow, beyond my comprehension, that all changed on Nosy Mangabe. Usually I will hike to see mammals, but hiking is a means to an end. On this island, I no longer cared what we found, or even if we found anything at all. I loved the rainforest, the rocks, the climbing and the negotiating for the next step. I even had a three hour hike in the rain and loved every second of it.

Hopefully, this new found enjoyment of hiking will persist. I've only done one hike since I got back, and it was quite different terrain and not nearly as interesting...but I didn't hate it. So this is progress. Although every trip to Africa changes me somehow, I never would have expected that my lifelong hatred of exercise would alter. I can't deny that it has though.

One of my minor injuries this trip was that I grabbed a tree to keep from sliding downhill in the mud and I felt an immediate and sharp pain. When I looked at my hand, it was turning white and swelling in a certain region, and there was a strong stinging sensation. I went back and looked at the tree and I found a caterpillar like the one pictured here. The sharp spines on the caterpillar had pierced my hand. (Click on the photo to enlarge it and clearly see the spines). The guide told me it wasn't poisonous. I used a sting relief swipe I keep on hand in my first aid kit for wasp stings, and that helped immensely. I would never in a million years have thought I would get injured by a caterpillar. Unfortunately he got hurt worse and I feel sorry to say that I might have inflicted a casualty - accidentally.

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