Everyday two or three master students join our little expedition. They help carry the equipment, join us out on the lakes for coring, filter the water samples, assist in sub-sampling and help packing everything up again. The students are so curious about what we do and why we do it! These three guys are really great company!
The two officers from the Ministry of Forest and Environmental Conservation also lend us a helping hand and are curious about our work. Of course it is exciting to pull out a sediment core from a deep lake, open the corer and see what the sediments look like. Is it sand or organic mud? Do we see laminations? How deep down into the sediments can we get? What is left once we have filtered the water? How to sample the sediments in our gravity corer?
Our two drivers for sure deserve a medal. They help us all the time with everything, even with sub-sampling the gravity cores; they manage the difficult roads, and they drive extremely careful.
Driving is, as I have described earlier, a tedious business. Roads are relatively narrow and full of traffic: lorries loaded to the top with all kinds of different goods, busses, motorbikes, and hundreds of bicycles. Here and there herds of sheep, cows and goats cross the roads. Sometimes people sit in the middle of the road repairing holes, and at other places people build new tracks.
Once we leave the paved main road, we enter dirt paths, sometimes with huge hollows, and deep tracks and driving speed decreases to about 5-20 km/h. These dirt roads are so narrow and the vegetation is so dense in some places that our 4WD sometimes has difficulties to pass. Frequent meetings with bullock carts, motorbikes and bicycles, and rare meetings with cars or lorries make driving here a real adventure.
We are really lucky that we have so many helping hands and such good drivers during this fieldwork!