About a month ago my time as a field assistant reached its end. I had then been working for Chris during nine months. But it was now time for me to return home to Sweden (with a little detour through Germany for a job interview) and leave everything that I had gotten so used to. These months in Morocco went by exceptionally fast!
One of the advantages of being a long-term field assistant is that you get the privilege to see time in action. The transformations it does to the surroundings, and the development of the infants and juveniles.
I arrived in the heat of the summer, when the temperature could reach up to 32° degrees and the grass yellowed quickly in the sun. We spent long days with the monkeys as they travelled in search for water (and in our case carrying around litres of it). The infants slowly got more and more in control of their limbs and they got much more skilled climbing and playing in the trees. They were also subjects of much attention and used in social interactions within the group, whether they liked it or not.
Gradually fall snuck upon the Mid-Atlas Mountains and turned the leaves into bright colours and acorns were plentiful as well as rainy days, now water wasn’t a problem any more… We started to realize that we had to bring another sweater and that the sun block was to no use.
Then, almost over a night, winter came barging in and left a white fluffy blanket of snow as a reminder. The forest was glimmering white and the sun was shining from a blue sky. Soon the sun block was packed in the backpack again.
I left the field just as the births of the new babies were approaching. Another cycle; another year. Having left Morocco, I have now tons of exciting stories, a great number of interesting encounters with people and with a different culture, memories of the group members and their individual traits and qualities, and of course recollections of both tough and amazingly fun times with the field team.
I am now off to new adventures, which entail my own PhD at IMPRS (International Max Planck Research School) in Germany, working with chimpanzees and gestural communication with field work in Uganda. I am very eager to get started and my time working for the The Barbary Macaque Project has given me lots of valuable experience and skills for my future. And for that I am grateful!
I wish all the best to Chris and the rest of the field team, master students and of course to all future researchers there!