Monday, April 22, 2013

38th day, Toliara - Speleolo...whatever

Working in an organization like WWF, in a country like Madagascar, not only allows me to meet endemic animals, but also interesting people:

Today, I helped a cave researcher (or speleologist, if you want to sound smart) editing some of his maps.
He had been sent on a mission to Tsimanampesotse National Park to explore the potential for touristic exploitation of the park's extensive cave and grotto system. He spent about 1 month wandering the park by himself, frequently roping down to the bottom of a cave, 20, 50 or 100 meters below the entrance, drinking water from rivers, lakes, wells, wherever he would find some. The gentleman is 70 years old.
Cave maps often are small pieces of art, sometimes look like the head of a bird or a treasure island map, and often are labelled with terms such as "bats", "tortoise carcass" or "blind fish" to highlight special features of the particular cave.
Clearly belonging to the "old school" of his trait, he would draw all his maps by hand, and we then scanned them. When he wasn't sure about the scale of a drawing, he would hold the ruler to the computer screen to measure the dimensions.
I was amused when he said at 6 pm that we can stop for today, so as not to violate the trade union working hours - I bit my tongue not to ask if speleologists have their own trade union.
Tomorrow I will ask him how many people have called him "cave man" to his face.

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