Dominica Week 3

Published: August 1st 2018
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Monday July 16 - Sleep was crap, as always. Jackie moved into our room last night and I heard her get up this morning. I tried to stay in bed, but it did not last long. In the meantime, Jackie came back and woke up Lisa to ask her if they could take out all her bat equipment and use the car today. After that I did get up. Breakfast was porridge, but someone dropped a watermelon, so that was available to eat as well.

I spent the morning talking to Shelly and Ben, and in the late morning I met Gary, the donkey on site. He didn't seem to like me, or he liked me too much. Either way, I think I am done with Gary. But he had stepped in a coconut shell that was stuck on his foot, and gotten that foot twisted in the line he was attached by, so Kersel came to fix him up. After that I stopped by Shelly's tent, where she was talking to Ben, and we had a nice chat about dysfunctional camp dynamics. Just before lunch, we went to the bridge and had a little ceremony to commemorate Ben quitting smoking. Shelly recommended it. It was fun. Ben offered his last cigarette, a flower and a crystal from the river to the river, and then Shelly purified him with sage while Ben held a crystal to his heart. I don't understand the full significance of it, but it is supposed to be a way to let go of the smokes. Hopefully it works for him. Later in the day I read in the hammock for a while before Meagan and I headed out for our netting. Before we left, we made a general schedule to see which days could work for us to do hike Boiling Lake with Rob, visit Champagne reef with the students, go on the vulcanology field trip and for me to do whale watching. I wrote it up for Charlotte in a note, since I never see her, and gave it to Jackie to give to her.

Meagan and I were going to work at the 300m location of the third transect, but it has been raining a lot lately, and the trails are very muddy and that one is steep, so we decided to net at the 0m location, which is flatter. Tomorrow we will do 300m and hope for the best. We got rained on while walking to the site, and I tried out my poncho for the first time. It protected my bag pretty well, but is warm to wear. All of our equipment was still drenched from two days before when we got rained on, including our tarp, so I kept my backpack on while we set up. After set up, I didn't want to sit on the wet tarp, so I stood with my backpack for a few hours. The kids came out and they did not bring our dinners with them, so Andrew went back to pick them up. We gave the students the bat chat and it rained while they were there, so that was less fun. There were also no bats to show them. No one loved that, but they were good sports about it. They headed back after an hour and then we got to work watching Momma Mia, with breaks to check the nets in between. It didn't rain again, but my pants were muddier than they've been on any other night.

Back at the room, we had to be quiet since Jackie was in bed. I organized myself a bit, showered after Meagan and read until 12:45am, when the others got back.

Tuesday July 17 - I woke up at 5:15 and tried to get back to sleep. It worked eventually, and I finally woke up and got out of bed by 9am. By then, Erin and Meagan were both already awake and reading in bed. It was weird to not be the first awake, but nice to stay in bed longer, though I did not feel particularly rested afterward. Breakfast was the omelette-pancake Frankenstein concoction with a side of baked beans. I chatted with Ben and Jem while I ate, and petted Scooby, the black and white cat. I also realized that I had a blister on my inside left elbow from a blister beetle. I'm not sure, but I probably batted away one that landed on me while I was netting last night and got sprayed. While we chatted, Jem gave me the letter I left with Jackie for Charlotte, telling me he found it on th ground. I assumed Charlotte had seen it and dropped it, but Jem told me Charlotte had a problem at the marine site and slept there, so she hadn't been back yet. So it came down to Jackie losing it and not ever realizing it. Nice.

Unrelated, I got a message from Charlotte via Lisa that I could go on the volcanology field trip tomorrow with all of the students. I reminded her that we were netting together in Soufriere, and she said that Rob could drop me off somewhere and Lisa could pick me up. I told her to ask if Meagan could come as well, and she said she would check with Meagan to see if she wanted to go first. Meagan said she would rather go next week, because she didn't have enough notice and wanted to get pizza and wifi in town, which was our plan before Soufriere. I asked Lisa to check with Charlotte if we could both go next week, since it would be an extremely long day for me otherwise, and the message I got back was no, it was tomorrow or nothing, so I decided to go. I wanted to get to town to skype, if possible, but I really wanted to take advantage of seeing new things when possible, especially since we do the same nothing everyday - sit around during the day, and we don't usually catch anything at night. Rob leads this trip, so I could also talk to him about the Boiling Lake trip as well. I spend the afternoon before leaving to work organizing the things I would need for the next day. Before we left, I handed my note for Charlotte to Clive, and asked him to hand it to her when he saw her at dinner. He said he would.

The trails are getting muddier as it seems to rain more and more, and Meagan and I left around 4pm to walk over to our equipment that we left at the 0m mark on the trail last night and then we had to carry it over to 300m. The trail is uphill and still quite muddy in places, but not nearly as wet as it had been the night before. Over the course of the night, my pants did not get very wet and my boots were slightly more visible by the end of the night. I wore the same pants as last night, but the mud from the night before was dry, so I was able to knock most of it off as dust before we got going. As expected, we did not catch any bats, but the student group that Jackie brought out was lovely, and they stayed to chat with us a bit at the end of our talk. We also watched Top Gun, but didn't finish it completely. Meagan hadn't seen it before, so she watched the rest of it after we got back while I was reading.

Wednesday July 18 - I woke up around 6am, giving me about five hours of sleep last night, and I got out of bed at 6:30am to get a start on packing. I put on my bathing suit and packed my daypack full with the camera and sarong and other things I would need for the day as well as my work clothes, gloves and laptop I would need for work at night. It was a tight squeeze. I tied my boots to my daypack and then headed down to breakfast. I've never had breakfast with everyone before, and it was weird to get in line to serve up my own hot oatmeal. Even weirder, before I could eat it, Kersel gave me the bowl he had set aside for me especially. He put some peanut butter in it, which he knows I like. Pretty cool. It was actually an enormous bowl, but I didn't want to be rude about not eating the peanut butter, so I was quite full when I finished.

At breakfast I talked to Shelly a bit, nice since I hadn't seen her yesterday. I also talked to Charlotte, in person, finally. We talked through the note that Clive had given her, and she said I could go whale watching this Sunday, and then to Boiling Lake with Rob and Meagan on Saturday. Champagne Reef we'd have to see about when there is space. So that's positive anyway. I told Rob before we left that Boiling Lake was on for Saturday. Now we just need to see how we can meet him in the morning to get started.

We left for the field trip at 8:15am, and it took about 45 minutes to get 30 students and teachers across both rivers and up to the main road to the buses that were waiting. Shelly recommended that I sit up front in the bus next to the driver, Clement. I'm glad she did. He was a lot of fun to talk to and pointed out a lot of things along the way.

The field trip involved Rob as tour guide, talking about the volcanic origins of the island and pointing out places where you could see the lava and ash that built up the cliffs in the area. There used to be more to it, but some of the cool sites were destroyed in the storm last year, so now the field trip ends at Trafalgar Falls, two waterfalls that are quite nice. They used to be hidden by the forest, but now you can actually see them from the road and even get glimpses while you pay to enter. We admired the falls before walking through the rocks towards the falls to swim in one of the pools at the base. With more rain lately, the falls were more powerful than normal, so we weren't able to walk to the pool we wanted. We had to walk through a small pool with an American woman named Jennifer and her Dominican husband Cornelius in both directions, and they gave us a hand across a fast-moving part. On the return, the kids played in different pools and I hung out with those two in theirs until we left. It was a bit cold, but a pretty cool to be.

It rained on and off for much of the day, but overall it was nice. It's so hot here when the sun is actually out that I find the clouds preferable, just not the rain. At the end of the trip, they dropped me off in Roseau on their way back to 3 Rivers. I went to Le Petit Paris to meet the bat girls, but they were not there yet, so I bought a small pizza bread and used the wifi for 45 minutes. I was able to check emails, junk mail, and messages on facebook and respond, but nothing else. Erin came in to get me around 4pm and then we headed out.

We arrived at Bevin's just as it started to rain, so we waited out the rain, and then took the equipment out of the car. Meagan and I started to set up our nets and the others left to go to a different site. I'm not sure how late they got their nets set up since we had trouble setting up in time. We set up one net in Bevin's yard and two nets at his neighbor's place. I brought my laptop to watch a movie, but Bevin had a tv in the area where we sat and he watched Willy Wonka, so we watched that with him. Later, we started Call Me By Your Name, but got less than an hour in. Over the course of the night we caught three Monophyllus, the nectar feeder, but we're pretty sure that one was a recapture. We got a juvenile female and an adult male. They were all caught in front of a banana plant. The other nets were a bust, but it was pretty windy and easier to see them.

When we closed the nets, we helped the neighbor out. He has a mango tree, or what is left on it after the storm, and the mangos are all very high right now. We helped him attach a bag to a pole so he could hunt the mangos. It was pretty cool. Meagan gave it a try as well, but wasn't able to get her mango. He got about 8 of them. Hard to control the pole, but cool to see. The batmobile arrived just as we brought our supplies back and we packed up and left.

I tried to sleep on the way home, but it didn't really work. The river was higher and more powerful than it had been earlier, and I really struggled to cross it this time. Everyone went so quickly and eventually waited for me on the opposite side, but I couldn't find good footing and kept slipping and really just struggled. I felt so alone then, and almost started crying as they watched me flounder from afar, but I made it eventually. Then they walked faster than me to and through the next river. I was ankle-deep in mud and it was slippery, so I went slowly so I didn't fall. Meagan waited for me after the small river, but the others were gone before I got there. They all came to the kitchen area but I didn't need to, so I went up to the room and started to get sorted out. They all used the bathroom before me but I was the only one that showered so it went quickly. I finally got in bed at 2:30am and the fan was squeaking. Meagan got up to fix it at 3am and I went to sleep, after a 21 hour day.

Thursday July 19 - I slept badly but managed to sleep on and off until almost 10am. Jackie came in at 7:45am to wake up Lisa to ask her a question, which was annoying. "Lisa, Lisa, Lisa, Lisa, Lisa..." It took a while, but not as long as the first time this week. Then they had a conversation at normal voice, which was rude while the rest of us were still sleeping. The worst part was that Lisa had left her a note telling her that she did not need the car today, but that was what the question was about.

Down for breakfast, Jem yelled at me about when our room can be cleaned. He said 11am like we agreed or not at all, we couldn't have it both ways. I told him he was talking to the wrong person, since I'm always down early. Today I came down for breakfast at 10:30, since we worked so late, but still in plenty of time for 11am. Wrong person to take out his frustrations on. Shelly was working with students on catching birds in camp, so I got to chat with her and them as I ate breakfast. I talked to Ben, and made plans with Meagan for our netting schedule for the rest of our time here. She was supposed to work with Erin tonight to survey a place I said I would not go (too steep, unsafe), but after all the rain, she has decided not to go either. Maybe next week, but most likely not. I think it's the right choice. Crazypants to carry the equipment there, and also probably impossible with all the rain we've been having.

In the afternoon I went back to the room to organize some new clothes to wear during the days and to read in the hammock. Meagan came back from Mermaid Pool a bit later. I hadn't realized she had gone swimming. Shelly and Ben were there too. I haven't felt much like getting in the river lately. It's cloudy all the time and I'm not so hot, as I just sit around most of the day. I read for a bit until it was time to get ready for the evening. Meagan went to eat a late lunch and then we left for our site. We were netting at 300m on trail 1 and the others were netting at 0m. I grabbed the set of poles that was already duct taped together, since it was easy and we had further to go. It took some time to get there and we were both sweating through our clothes when we arrived. We set up our nets and it was actually the best tall net we've set in some time. We had to work in some razor grass to tie off the poles, and we both got a few cuts on our hands, despite the long sleeves and pants. We caught four birds in the first net check, one of which was pretty tangled and we had to use the scissors for a couple strategic snips to get it out.

Ian walked the student groups and dinner out to us, and we had our nightly bat chat. We didn't catch anything though, so we had no bats to show them. We didn't catch any bats all night. We found out later that Lisa and Erin caught seven bats, so our students were able to see a bat when they passed them to go back to camp. I'm not sure why their site was better, but I'm glad some bats were available for the kids to see. Meagan and I watched Sydney White in between net checks and echolocation recordings. It rained just a little one time, but it was not a big deal, so overall, still a good night.

On the way back, we passed Lisa and Erin, and Erin asked how taking someone else's poles that they carried across the river was any kind of research etiquette. I was kind of surprised by the passive aggressiveness coming out of nowhere. Meagan said it was an accident, and I told her I grabbed the poles not realizing. We dropped off our dinner containers and headed back to the room for bed.

Friday July 20 - I woke up a little before 8am and got up and made it to breakfast by 8:30. Charlotte was around, so I tried coordinating with her about making it into town early tomorrow to meet Rob for the Boiling Lake hike, but we're still not sure how it will go down and who needs cars. Shelly said she will coordinate with Rob on my behalf and work something out. She eventually left with Ben, Charlotte and the photographer to visit Emerald Pool, so hopefully she will leave me a note tonight to tell me what we will do tomorrow. It's so inconvenient not working the same schedule as the others. I could have gone to Emerald Pool with them, and would like to go eventually, but it rained all morning and seemed like a crappy day to go. I would also have had to be out all day or hitch a ride back, and I'm not in the mood for either of those options.

I was able to wash my laundry, however, and having clean clothes is quite a treat. The machine was open and Cathius, who works here, let me jump in ahead of him. He's 20 and does construction and woodworking and flower arrangements for weddings...pretty cool stuff. I washed and then rinsed the clothes, and then he suggested I do it a second time, as the rinse water was still so dirty. My pants have inhaled so much dirt as the muddy trails get muddier with the rain. I also washed and hung some of Meagan's clothes with mine.

Later, Meagan and I went for a walk before swimming at Mermaid Pool. She told me that while I was doing the laundry, the bat team and Jackie had a meeting and decided Meagan and I were going to have to net at a site that I find dangerous to get to, and already said I would not do. She told them that - they were fully aware - and they said I would have to do it anyway. I find it unprofessional that they would have this meeting without me, and ridiculous that they would put Meagan in the middle. I'm not doing it, but since they haven't talked to me yet, I'm not discussing it at this point.

We had a nice time at the pool, with Meagan going up on the big rock for a bit, and eventually leaving to take a nap. I stayed and eventually got all the way in the water. Shocking for me. Kersel came down for a smoke and a wash. He sudsed up like I was watching a car wash commercial. He wore his briefs the whole time, but while we chatted about dinner, he was washing his junk. Very cultural moment? Then it started to rain and I stood under some trees nearby. When it let up, I walked back to my room in my bathing suit, passing some students that Jackie had looking for lizards close to our room.

I read for a while in the hammock, and some of the kids came up the steps to our place, said hello, and turned to walk away. I think she should have set limits and the kids should not have been allowed up the stairs. One or two steps more and they'd be able to see Meagan in her underwear napping, through the open door.

We left a little after 4pm to walk to set up our nets. We were on the same transect as last night, so the equipment was still there. We had to carry it 300m more and set everything up, and we opened at 6pm. This part of the trail had a lot of razor grass, so we used out gloves to try to eliminate some of it for the kids. It also had a part that was EXTREMELY muddy, and my whole boot practically submerged each time I walked through to check nets.

Shelly brought the students out and Meagan and her chatted about our plans for the next day while we checked the nets. She would drive us to town, pick up an intern to drive to Champagne, and then meet us in town for a bit before we head back. We didn't catch any bats, but the students stayed an extra hour to try to see some. Their teacher stayed until we closed at 11pm. This time we left the nets up but closed, since we will net there again on Monday.

Back at camp, I picked up the newly cleaned and dry clothes I needed for the night and the next day, and headed up for a shower and bed. The other girls came back just after I showered. Bedtime: 12:30am.

Saturday July 21 - see Emerald Pool blog

Sunday July 22 - see Whale Watching and no Stinking Hole blog

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1st August 2018

I enjoyed my two weeks in Dominica but I was a tourits and went diving. I did canoe the river and go to the waterfalls. It is called the Garden Isle of the Caribbean. Hopefully, the ceremony worked and he quit smoking.

Tot: 2.36s; Tpl: 0.026s; cc: 10; qc: 33; dbt: 0.0187s; 2; m:saturn w:www (; sld: 1; ; mem: 1.4mb