Spoken Reflections From Tanzania: First Day Hunting With the Hadza

During my trip to Tanzania, I used my nature journal and my pocket notebook for drawing and writing and I used my phone for photos, short videos, and audio recordings. With this diverse toolbox I tried to document my observations, feeling, and impressions.

Tanzania 2017I tried to keep very careful notes about their hunting techniques, how many arrows they shot, how they debate the tracks on the ground, and how they make decisions about where to follow the animals. I mostly used my small Moleskine pocket notebook for scribbling notes and drawings on the fly because the Hadza move so fast that there was little time for me to take out my nature journal. I soon learned that it was even more efficient to record audionotes on my phone on these hunts.

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Several birds and squirrels were taken in this hunt and also some lesser Galagos, and an intense encounter with Baboons. These notes include some of my descriptions of the beauty of the landscape and some of my questions. There is also more about my process in this audio-recording from Tanzania. You can hear the East African birds in the background as I review my trail notebook from the first day with the Hadza.

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Here is a short video I took on the first hunting trip where I tagged along. They walk fast, talk, joke, and smoke.

 

 

 

DSCN5588By traveling and studying traditional food production systems around the world I am sometimes in situations that present ethical questions. These Galagos were the cutest animal that I saw the Hadza kill for food and I am sure that many of my compatriots would question the killing of such animals for food. My main goal on these trips is not to judge from the standards of my industrial culture but to be an observer and to try to understand the perspective of these people who hunt and gather every day for their survival. For more on the ethics of eating see my post about Eating Biodiversity.

 

Historical Journal Share

Journaling is a process, a learning tool, and it is a record. In many cases journals have been kept mainly for record-keeping purposes. While it is not my all-time favorite benefit of journaling it is fun to go back through old journals and see the record of the past. It is funny to see what I didn’t know back then, how much I have changed, and in what ways I have remained the same.

In this video I give some background into some of the key turning points in the evolution of my current journaling practice. I also share some of the tools and materials that made it possible.

 

 

Check out my rant about the  benefits of journaling

Spoken Reflections From Tanzania: Ngorongoro to Karatu

Tanzania 2017During my trip to Tanzania, I used my nature journal and my pocket notebook for drawing and writing and I used my phone for photos, short videos, and audio recordings. With this diverse toolbox I tried to document my observations, feeling, and impressions.

In this particular recording I give some of my observations about agriculture, tourism, and my personal reactions to the land of contrast.

Most of these observations I make in messy notes in a tiny notebook in the moving bus or car, a practice I have kept up on my last three tropical expeditions. Even though I get car sick I find that there is so much to see during these trips and I have so many ideas that it would be a waste not to record them. The notes are almost illegible because they are made while in motion. I also use this book when I am on fast paced walks or hikes that do not allow for me to pull out my big nature journal sketchbook. On this trip I began the pattern of rereading these notes and elaborating on them verbally with an audio recording. I plan on repeating this system in the future.

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Spoken Reflections From Tanzania: Manyara to Arusha

IMG_5367During my trip to Tanzania, I used my nature journal and my pocket notebook for drawing and writing and I used my phone for photos, short videos, and audio recordings. With this diverse toolbox I tried to document my observations, feeling, and impressions.

Here are some reflections from the last day of the Nature Journal Safari when we drove from Lake Manyara back to Arusha. A lot of observations during the drive, covering a lot of land, seeing a lot of patterns and trying to make landscape level connections in my mind.

IMG_5414 During this drive I was constantly surprised by how barren and dry the landscape looked and how many people it actually supported.

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Spoken Reflections from Tanzania: Day 2

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During my trip to Tanzania, I used my nature journal and my pocket notebook for drawing and writing and I used my phone for photos, short videos, and audio recordings. With this diverse toolbox I tried to document my observations, feeling, and impressions.

The following is a recording where I review my second day:

It was the first day of the Nature Journal Safari and contains many of my first landscape scale impressions from the hours of cross-country driving.

One correction from the audio regarding the hanging beehives. I think they are not actually managed hives but traps for enticing homeless swarms.

IMG_5278I was not expecting so many agaves.

IMG_5279While we were waiting for our permits to enter Tarangire national park I sketched the elephant skull then posed in front of it. Thanks to Dana Vallarino for the photo.

tanzania scans 6-6A page of sketches from that morning.

IMG_5285I took this photo when Impalas were so fresh and novel. By the time we left the Serengeti, Impalas and Gazelle by the hundreds were commonplace.

Spoken Reflections from Tanzania: Day 1

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During my trip to Tanzania, I used my nature journal and my pocket notebook for drawing and writing and I used my phone for photos, short videos, and audiorecordings. With this diverse toolbox I tried to document my observations, feeling, and impressions.

The following is a recording where I review my first day:

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Permission to Try

Like most people I’d rather be a chameleon, I’d rather blend in. It feels easier, it takes less effort, it is less awkward and more comfortable. But it isn’t really learning and it isn’t really growth unless you feel some growing pains.

I recently went to the Heirloom Expo in Santa Rosa, a big event with a visually stunning array of vegetables, hippies, hipsters, heritage farm animals, and plants. It would have been easier just to meander around the fairgrounds, idly chatting, and snapping photos but my goal was to practice sketching and journaling while there.

I struggled, I procrastinated, I had trouble choosing where to start amidst the piles of beautiful cucurbits! But I finally pushed myself, I focused, I committed to a few squash and pumpkins to draw. I put in my earphones and tried to tune out the hum of many people talking in a poor acoustic environment. I tried to tune out the buzzing flies that were landing on me. I tried to tune out all the other things I could be drawing instead or cute people I could be talking to.

IMG_5696Here I am looking optimistic at the beginning: Ready to try!

 

 

 

 

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Here I am five hours later with piles of squash still to be drawn…tired of trying but glad I tried.

 

 

 

 

Journaling in public takes mental and emotional energy. You can’t blend into the crowd. You can’t just be another overstimulated adult with an iPhone wandering around in the illusion that it is better to attend to many things at once. Otherwise, you might miss the giant pumpkin contest!

When you are journaling you have to prioritize, decide, commit, and dedicate your preciously narrow beam of attention to one thing at a time. This is a muscle that continues to atrophy in our culture. You also have to create something instead of just consuming it.

I’m sharing this recent experience because it is a situation where I struggled, I had lots of self-doubts, and I had lapses of self-discipline. My pumpkin drawings sucked at first and I was nervous about all the people but I kept going.

I’m also sharing this because I gave myself permission to fail and therefore gave myself permission to actually try.

 

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Come to the Heirloom Expo next September and we can try together.

http://theheirloomexpo.com/

 

 

 

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Nature Journaling Jumpstart

This October I will be teaching nature journaling every weekend! I’m really looking forward to it. I will be teaching a class through the Santa Rosa Junior College Community Education program and leading the once a month north coast club. I’m also hoping to make it to some of the other amazing nature journal groups and classes that are offered in this area by other instructors such as John Muir Laws and Kristin Meuser

I really believe that journaling in general is the most accessible and powerful thing you can do to increase your learning.  I’m equally convinced that nature journaling in particular is one of the richest and most rewarding personal practices a person can enjoy.

Four fun Sundays in a row this October is a great way to start. Every day I promise you will observe something you have never noticed before.

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Back From Tanzania

Much recognition to Jack Laws for his genius and courage in conceiving of the 2017 Nature Journal Safari!  I am extremely grateful that he invited me to come on as a fellow nature journaler and minor assistant!! Thanks to all the knowledgeable guides and their often invisible roles as intermediaries. And last but not least, so much of my respect goes to the Hadzabe, their skills, and their patience in putting up with my constant questions, and endless inspection and drawing of their plants, animals, bows, arrows, and hand drills 🙂

Check out my instagram feed for more images and videos from my Tanzania trip.

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