Tuesday, March 27, 2012

No caterpillars to be found

I’m sorry I didn’t post yesterday but we were still in the first lodge where the router only works on every third day after a full moon, if there is a prime number of mosquitoes in the room and once 5 separate people have chanted in voodoo.

Instead, a couple of us went exploring the surrounding forest where we followed butterflies and found a horseshoe. Perhaps it will ward away the mosquitoes. On the way back to dinner I was amazed to see how many stars are in the sky when you are not surrounded by city lights. Their number more than doubles! Stars really are beautiful. It’s really too bad that cities are so bright.

So, yesterday, during the day we helped scientist Lee Dyer count caterpillars and were sent out into the field to collect as many as we could find. My group was brutally unsuccessful (we found many "blue jean" frogs and colorful spiders to compensate though), but since others had more luck than we did our final total was 140 individuals! We even found a species that Lee had never seen before. Scientific research is very unpredictable.

Here are a couple samples of non-caterpillars:

For lunch, we had the most amazing drink: horchata. The most surprising part was that, apparently, you can buy it at Ana’s, MIT’s fast food burrito place. I know where I’m going next time I’m thirsty!

This morning as we were packing, we noticed that some tourists were staying in the resort, and to my great surprise they were speaking French! The students that are in the radio class decided to interview a couple of them and I tried my hand at interpreting for them. It’s much harder than it looks. Especially when the person goes on for a while and you forget what they said at first.

We then arrived at Tirimbina, our new place to stay, and went out to look for more caterpillars. I was very disappointed to once again find none. My morale was boosted however by the fact that I had a short conversation – though admittedly it didn’t flow very well – with out tour guide who only spoke Spanish. Knowing that those five years of classes were not in vain is rather comforting.

We were supposed to look for caterpillars off the path, in order to find them in a more natural setting and this rapidly turned into an Indiana Jones-like trek through undergrowth, over roots and under vines. My hat and braids completed the picture appropriately.

Today I also got to play with the radio equipment. It is amazing how much it enhances the sound of every nearby bird! I also caught on tape our second guide explaining to us how the local wildlife use the suspension bridges around the reserve – they know this from images taken my motion censor cameras. The raccoons will wait until there are no people around before crossing, but our presence does not seem to disturb them more than that. It is nice to see that despite some fears that eco-tourism, if conducted on too large a scale, can disturb the natural environment, this is not always the case.

I am about to leave for a bat talk! More on that later.

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