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Published: July 18th 2012
We’ve arrived at our field camp, and are getting settled nicely. The camp hasn’t changed much from last year, but there’s a whole new group of folks that I’ve been getting to know. When I was here last September, there were only about 3 teams here (mine, a small mammal duo, and two people working on stream invertebrates). This year, there are about 10-12 projects going on, covering bats, leeches, small mammals, mosquitoes, dragonflies, herbivory, and a few others. I’m realizing that this is the only field site I’ve worked with such an array of projects—most of my past work has been in places where mine was the only project, or other scientists passed through for only short periods of time. I wasn’t sure whether I’d like big group living in the field, but it is a really good bunch, and it’s nice to have people around to chat science with, discuss field challenges (like my frequent equipment problems), and socialize with at the end of each day. There’s a great sense of camaraderie that makes the isolation here quite bearable—and even enjoyable!
The set-up here is quite basic, but functional. Our camp consists of a few contiguous areas each covered by tarps: kitchen, dining area, work benches, and sleeping areas. There’s a camp cook who makes all of our meals (a nice treat, but I imagine I’ll start missing cooking for myself in a few weeks)—usually rice or noodles for breakfast, though many of us eat oatmeal; rice with meat and veggies for lunch, and the same again for dinner. On rare occasions, we get fruit with dinner as well—not often enough in any of our opinions, but what can you do.
Our kitchen has a double gas burner and a bit of counter top, a sink with water piped up from the nearby stream, and even a small fridge/freezer that runs for about 6 hours each night when the generator is on. Our sleeping quarters are rows of fixed hammocks with mosquito netting—quite comfy, but very little privacy. I am still adjusting to having to put my pants on while lying in my bed each morning, but I’ve managed to make my space a little bit private by strategically hanging sarongs and towels around my bunk. Because my bed is about 20 feet from the dining table, I sometimes have to listen to my iPod to drown out the socializing, but so far I haven’t had much trouble falling asleep. Being physically exhausted at the end of each day definitely helps!
We don’t have showers here, so bathing takes place in the stream—really lovely on a hot day, but less so when it has been rainy and cold and the stream is flooded and brown. Luckily it seems to be drying out a bit now and washing off in the stream at the end of a long, hot field day is quite refreshing.
I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the weather continues to hold—if it rains in the afternoon or evening, the streams are usually too flooded for me to accurately survey tadpoles the next day. On top of that, I need crystal clear stream water to run my primary productivity experiments—which only happens when there hasn’t been any rain for a few days. Perhaps it’s too much to hope for sunshine in a RAINforest? I remain, as usual, cautiously optimistic that this past week’s weather will hold for at least a little while longer…
I’ll write again soon with more news of work and life here—it has been great being here again and getting back into the swing of field work. Looking forward to the next 2 months!
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