The solar ovens are finished! We spent all morning working on them (and got a few cuts and sunburns in the process), but we finally got them up and working. “Jua kali” is an adjective in Swahili which translates literally as “hot sun”; there’s no great translation for its actual meaning in English, but basically it describes something that’s improvised or jerry-rigged and highly sketchy yet functional (often made by people working under the ‘hot sun’). Our ovens are very jua kali. From the flimsy tin-foil/duct tape/plywood top to the messily caulked seal on the glass to the numerous bent nails in the base to the poorly fitting input and exhaust pipes, the ovens show a lot of character, but they are done and that is exciting.
To celebrate our miraculous feat of engineering we went out on an afternoon game drive. All the normal characters were there (impala, dik-dik, some giraffes, and even a brief glimpse of a hyena) but the really exciting sight we caught on our way back, when Josephine spotted a nest hidden behind a bush about twenty feet from the road. We jumped out of the car to take a look, and found… a Grevy’s Zebra egg!
Grevy’s are a rare zebra species found only in the semi-arid savannah environment of the Laikipia plateau. While platypuses and echidna are thought to have always laid eggs, Grevy’s are the only known example in the mammal order of a species undergoing eutherian regression (occasionally switching from live birth to egg laying). The switch is usually triggered by extreme environmental conditions (such as the current drought) when resources are so scarce that pregnant mares can’t afford to carry foals to term. Laying eggs frees the mothers to migrate farther in search of food for themselves and their (soon to be hatched) young. There’s a really great description (as well as many cute baby zebra pictures) here. Check it out!