Tuesday, October 3, 2017

My True Love in Borneo

Eventually, I will write a blog post about the biodiversity in Borneo. But today, the bigger story was with the people that I met and fell in love with.

My adventure in the airport started in THE.BEST.WAY. I actually met some people, and I really, really liked them. I usually hate people, but these people were better than that. They were kindred spirits. Did you know I was actually nervous to come to Borneo and depart from my Africa peeps? Shhh...don’t tell them that I had a friendship affair with you :) It will be our little secret <3. Each one of you is amazing.

This class picture makes me happy! It represented so many of my favorites. A water-baby will always take a day on a boat, but add amazing learning and unparalleled macrofauna, and I was in heaven. I also have to give a shout out to Ron Swanson. I think he is the first teacher I have ever felt comfortable enough to give call by a nickname, and he is totally willing to collaborate with others to improve the course. He is definitely a favorite of Borneo and the reason I will send my friends.

Does Haji’s selfie beat Ellen’s? Did I really call this person “forest” in their own language for several days? Haji is the best. She loves the land, she understands the problem, she supports the people. She is one of those people that everyone likes and probably for different reasons. Her multi-faceted awesomeness earned a place in my heart.

A happy picture of me. Why am I so giddy in this pic? Look at these bananas. Take a long, hard, look. Our van had a brief, but interesting convo about God and evolution and families on the way to the airport. I’ve decided that these bananas are one of the reasons that I_solidly_believe_ in_God. Look at them. They are ridiculously sized, delicious, and don’t make me use an EpiPen. I love them. Maybe more than I love you (just kidding...but, seriously). These could have only come from someone bigger, and wiser than me, and who has a tremendously brilliant sense of humor.

Look at these women. #lifegoals   If you spend an hour with these women, and don’t feel in complete awe of their dedication, physical strength, and kindness, you might need a fresh teddy because you have lost your bearings. (((See what I did there? Did that even make sense? It just came to me in the moment…)))

This was the night that three wonderful neighbors showed up to take two orphans to the prom. In this moment, Laura and I felt whole and accepted. We felt like two women who had survived on nothing but boiled eggs and partially-cooked rice for a week and were about to get "other" food.***Pause*** We felt validated. We were finally apart of a family; or, at least, a part of a neighborhood without boundaries. After we asked each of them several times if they were our mothers, using various voice inflections, we realized that these women didn’t speak English. Laura and I decided to communicate through modern dance, acting out the birth of a child and the gift of motherhood. I am still not sure that they understood our art, as you can see from the look on their faces.

Why would I include a blurry pic? Because it is my best selfie with my Borneo Bae, Max. True, untold story about the bonding of Max and I: Max, Owen and I were in the kitchen chatting and sneaking some late-night snacks. Max was wrestling to the point of defeat with a jar of jelly. I took it from him and somewhat effortlessly twisted the lid open. When Owen shot Max a look of pity that can only come from having a middle-aged woman open a jar for you, I knew I had to step into comfort my good friend Max. I said the only thing that came to mind, “Don’t worry Max, American women have naturally burly arms.” When I could see that Owen was still looking at my Max with doubt, I decided to cite a source, “that’s how we managed to hand your British butts to you in the Revolutionary War.” I knew then, that we were forever friends.

Did a number of the Weasley cousins crash our trip? Ummm, yes. Photographic proof. I know you are jealous. Though I do not remember their names (surprised?), I appreciated their energy.

Python guy was not really into “field selfies,” which was my first indication that he was probably not American. He also didn’t take me up on my offer to paper-rock-scissors him to get to hold the python bag. He can, however, spot a python with laser vision and wrestle Negini like a boss. He might be a Debbie-downer when you try to engage him in Pictionary, but this guy had his own level of dedication and #skills.

In case it wasn’t clear earlier, I really appreciated and even loved the uniqueness that each of my classmates brought to the program. As I have walked each night with my husband, I have told him about my zoo friends, my research buddies, my friend who helps with college applications on the side, my education colleagues, my photog ladies. You made me laugh to tears on most days, and left me with the gift of stories I will be able to share for a lifetime. Who else knows people who work with primates, or has their own Texan zoo (or owns a sizeable chunk of the state), or people that have videoed and traveled the world, or people that would be willing to alter every, single component of their lives to help this planet? Not to brag, but I.know.a.lot. Just sayin’

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