Dominica Week 4

Published: August 1st 2018
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Monday July 23 - Meagan's been having pain in her tooth, and it has been getting worse. She thinks she needs a root canal, and at least wants to get it looked at while here and get it sorted out enough that she can fly home next week. Charlotte arranged for her to go into town to see a dentist today, and I tagged along to get some wifi for a change. Jackie drove us, Kersel and Shelly into town, and our first stop was the rental car shop, where all of our vehicles come from. They must regret ever renting us cars, as the tires are always flat and there are multiple other car problems associated which I'm sure our driving has caused. We stayed there for a while before moving onto the tire shop. Shelly left us at the rental car place, because she was told to pick up a car and deliver it to Ian so his group could survey in the afternoon. It turned out Ian did not need the car and she could have stayed in town to use the internet. Communication here is appalling. Meagan and I stopped in a supermarket and I bought peanut butter for Kersel, since he has shared his with me before.

After sitting in the car at the tire shop for ages, Jackie dropped us off at the dentist. We also made sure she brought us money, since Meagan was unprepared to pay out of pocket. Really, we should have been dropped off earlier since we did not have an appointment, and then they should have done the car stuff, but whatever. We waited at least 90 minutes for a space to open up. It may have been the dentist's lunch hour in fact. But she removed the dead tissue and gave Meagan a temporary filling that will last until her dentist appointment at home next week. From there we went to the Beach Bar for wifi, and I had a smoothie and a chicken roti wrap. So good. It's shocking how nice a cold drink can be when you only have about one per week. I even got to skype with Jeroen, so that was nice as well. I hadn't talked to him in two weeks.

We left to meet the others at 2:30pm and of course they were late, so I went to take some pictures of the town that I had been wanting. Meagan's numbing had worn off by this time and she was in a lot of pain, so Kersel picked up something at the pharmacy and Jackie ran back to the dentist to make sure this was normal. Kersel gave me a small cheesecake, maybe as a present for the peanut butter, but I ended up giving it to Meagan since she hadn't had lunch, couldn't eat anything hard, was starving, and couldn't take her Advil and other meds until she had eaten. It felt so sad to give away this lovely treat, but she needed it more than I did.

On the drive home, we had a decent chat with Jackie, which was nice. Meagan was out of commission for the night, and I was resigned to netting alone, but was going to ask Shelly or Ben to come out and help me take down the equipment and bring it back, but back at camp, we found out that Lisa was down with a migraine and would not be netting. So then Erin and I would net my site, which was fine. All the nets were already up and there was no stress setting up. I had about 30 minutes to get changed and get my stuff together for the netting. Meagan also showed me how to do the echolocation recording before she crashed out. Erin and I left at 5:30pm and were there in plenty of time to open at 6pm. She took care of all the data recording and many net checks, and I handled the bat detector and some of the net checks. She also did most of the talking when Shelly brought dinner and the students to see us. She had a new plan to keep the students for two hours rather than just one, but it was a bad night to start as they were jetlagged and had to get up at 5am to do bird field work with Andrew. We finally sent them off at 9:30pm and after that echolocation recording, I finally ate dinner. I also got a piece of the cake they bought for someone's birthday, so that was a treat.

We didn't catch any bats all night, as expected, and we closed up and took down the equipment at 11pm. We made it back to camp just after midnight, and Erin stayed downstairs for a bit with Ian and Josh while I headed up to shower and read.

Tuesday July 24 - I stayed in bed until almost 8:30 and then headed down to breakfast. I talked to Ben and Shelly while I ate my first fried egg of the summer, and then they headed into town. Shelly was the second driver for Ian and had a few hours to kill, so they were able to get in today. Jackie and Charlotte were also heading out, and I decided to have a chat with them before they left about the fact that I would not be working tonight on the site that I felt was too dangerous. I let her know that she should have included me in the meeting where they made these decisions, and that Erin had initially agreed to do the swap with me. It was undecided as to exactly what would happen that night when they left, but it would be settled at some point before the evening.

I stayed behind and chatted with the group we had last night, as they were catching birds today and hanging out in the dining hall. I spent time catching up on my journaling and watching the kids play pictionary and hangman.

Eventually I decided to wash my hair with the eggs I bought last week, and decided to do it at Mermaid Pool. My hair felt better after the last time I washed it, not because of the shampoo, but because I used a washcloth on it to clean it. I don't know why that was needed, but it was better, but not perfect. No one else was at the river, and it was quite nice to have it to myself. I got in more quickly this time and frolicked around a bit before washing my hair with the scrambled egg. I brought it in a coffee cup that was in my room. I had enough with the two eggs together that I washed my hair twice and also fed some to the fish. They loved it. It was sunny for part of the time there, a real first for Mermaid Pool. It was really nice to be there today. I even tried my hand at climbing up the big rock and though I didn't climb all the way up, I'm pretty sure I can.

I walked back to my room in just my suit without meeting anyone, which was a big score, but no one was around, so I had to go to the container to get the key. Meagan told me that if Jackie wasn't back in 45 minutes we would survey another site I'm not crazy about getting to. I wasn't too worried. Jackie arrived shortly after, with her luggage in tow. She's been here over a week without it and leaves Sunday. She had a shower and then went out with Meagan. On the way, she mentioned that I should be prepared to take the kids out to Lisa and Erin tonight and maybe give the bat talk while they tether bats to make a call library.

I spent about an hour on data entry after Erin showed me where it was kept and how we record it, and then I spent some time chatting with Shelly down by the river. Dinner was quite late, but it was chicken, and pretty tasty. I was supposed to walk the students up to the girls at 7:30pm, but it was 8:00pm when we left. It was on the same trail we netted last night, but the site closest to camp. It was a short hike, despite being steep. It was also not muddy there, which I greatly enjoyed. Lisa and Erin caught several bats before we arrived, so they had a lot to show the students. As they processed a bat, I went back to camp to see if anyone from last night wanted to see one. Only the teacher took me up on it, but it was nice for her to see them. Once we got up there, I processed the rest of the bats while Lisa and Erin tethered them out of sight of the students. I processed three bats, and it was nice to handle them again, since I've hardly touched a bat all summer.

Once we finished the three bats together, I walked them back to camp and went up to my room to shower. Emma was in the shower and Tricia was waiting. They both stay in tents and like this shower better than the one they have access to. Charlotte was also in here earlier. I had forgotten that nearly the whole female part of camp uses this shower while we are out at night. I got my shower and then into bed by 10:30pm. It always feels good to get to bed earlier, though it's hard not to be woken up by the others later. Tomorrow I'm heading to Champagne Reef with Holly and Emma, since they are student free.

Wednesday July 26 - see Champagne Reef blog

Thursday July 26 - I woke up today to Jackie banging around the room, then having a phone call on the balcony with the door banging in the wind. When she left, she left the bathroom door open so it too was banging around when with the wind blowing. Lovely. I have inconsiderate roommates and a terrible living situation for anyone looking for good sleep. Getting home to Jeroen and his family who will be visiting, including two children, will be much quieter and a little slice of heaven.

Breakfast was porridge, and after that, I journaled a bit and then typed up the preliminary bat report, as Jackie asked for it last night and said it was due today. Some sort of information in advance would be good. The other day she left a note on the board that we had to write one, but left no information about what it was or what should be in it or the date it was due. Communication here is the worst. Meagan looked the report over while she ate breakfast and we think it's fine.

After breakfast, I realized I woke up with a big rash or inflammation of some kind on the right side of my face. It looked like terrible 14 yr old acne, but wasn't. I'm not sure what it was, but I'm wondering if it might have been heat rash. No one that I showed it to was sure, and I took two antihistamines to see if that would help, in case it was an allergic reaction. It didn't seem to help, but it did make me extremely sleepy.

I chatted with Shelly for a while after she finished with the birding group for the morning, and then we went to Mermaid Pool. I invited Meagan, but she was watching a movie in the hammock and wasn't interested. At the pool was also a local woman named Hattie who just retired as principal of a school here. Jem worked with her to organize OpWall students visiting her school in the past. I think the school is still being renovated after the storm. She was here to say hi, and her and two of her grandkids were with her, swimming in the river with us. Shelly swam over to the big rock and I stayed talking to Hattie for a while. Eventually Hattie left, and Ben and Cathius came over and started practicing flipping off the rock. It looked too dicey, and I didn't want to see anyone get hurt, so I left. I was still feeling quite exhausted from the antihistamines, so I took a short nap before going out for the night. Meagan was also napping. I was laying on my back, which felt great for a change, but everytime I fell asleep I would make this crazy sound that woke me up. I have no idea what it was but it meant I had to turn on my side eventually.

Meagan and I woke up at 3:45pm to get ready for the evening. All the equipment was already at the site, since she and Jackie left it there the night before. Everyone was nervous I wouldn't be able to get there, since it was across a river I wouldn 't cross before, but they added a line to help and the crossing was fine. It did mean I had to wear my sandals and shorts and bring pants and boots, which was annoying. The path itself was treacherous in places, and I was not excited about coming back in the dark.

We put the nets up, but there was nowhere to put them that was good for bat catching. I felt especially bad for the students that they had cross the river to see us, since it was such a hard path to follow in the dark for no real reward. On the other hand, Meagan and I watched Good Will Hunting, which I hadn't seen for a long time, and that made the time pass quickly. We even got to leave the equipment there, and Meagan and Erin will bring it to the next site tomorrow afternoon, which is 300m closer to camp, where we've netted before and (gasp!) caught bats.

Walking back was harder than walking there, but we made it ok. The hardest part was that I had the dinner containers and my shoes dangling from my backpack, which kept throwing me off balance. Back at the room, I showered and took one more antihistamine, in hopes of it working on my face. I started a new book about the Salem witch trials and fell asleep by 12:45am.

Friday July 27 - I fly home one week from today! I'm excited to get there already, but still trying to appreciate something in every day. This experience with Opwall could have been much better if there was better communication, a more friendly work environment amongst the staff, and of course, bats to catch.

I slept until almost 9am, which was a nice surprise, and then came down for breakfast. The first thing I saw was lunch - sandwiches again! How is it even possible? They are only supposed to be once a week, and this is twice now. Wednesday and Friday? So depressing. I ate my pancakey omelette breakfast with baked beans, and I wish it had been more food. It felt too small, especially knowing that I would not have dinner for 12 hours. You would think I would at least lose weight here, but with all the carbs, I don't think that is happening. But good news, my face looks much better than yesterday.

I hung around the dining hall journaling, and when Shelly finished with the bird group, we chatted for a while and then decided to go for a swim at Mermaid Pool. Meagan joined us, which was nice. This time, they even got me up on the rock with them. It's a shame it has taken this long to find a rhythm and some friends to hang out with, but it's been nicer lately. Just as I was leaving to swim, Erin came up to the room to relay the message that there was an extra car for tomorrow, so Shelly could drive Meagan and I to town to meet Rob to do the Boiling Lake hike. She also told us we'd need to dry out our nets today to make that happen. I told Meagan and we arranged the rest with Shelly and Rob, and didn't do anything with our nets since there was not time and we needed four of them for the night anyway. We planned to hang them up to dry afterward.

We set up the nets at transect 2 at the 0m mark, and we did have some luck. We managed to nab one juvenile Myotis to show the students who came out tonight, as well as several from last night who came to see if we got any this time around. It was the only bat of the night, and the last one of the season for us. Afterward, we watched The First Wives Club, which was plenty silly. Back at the room, we didn't hang the nets because Meagan was tired and we had to get up early for the hike in the morning. We'll do it tomorrow.

Saturday July 29 - see Boiling Lake blog

Sunday, July 29 - This was the worst night of sleep yet. The staff had a drinking party, and they held it downstairs, but I could still hear them a bit. The worst part, though, was that it went until 4am or so, including my roommates coming into the room, drunk-whispering, to get their swimwear at 3am, I assume. It always makes me feel like an old lady, but damn, I wish I had my own space. Jackie's flight left early this morning, and I think she had to leave at 4:30am. She must have stayed up all night. Clive left before I woke up, and I'm guessing he did not sleep well downstairs either. But he's now at an all-inclusive drinking rum punch, so he should be good.

I got up at 8am and was surprised when I went down that all the staff but the bat girls had already eaten and were working on clean-up or involved in the airport run. It's even more amazing to me since no one here seems to need sleep. I had my pancake breakfast and by 9:30am everyone was up and around for our staff meeting about the plan of the day. I will leave with Andrew tomorrow at 8am. His ferry is an hour before mine, and Tricia will drive us on her way to catch lizards in the south. Shelly and Meagan will stay here an extra night and leave for the airport together, dropping off a car on the way.

Today everyone cleaned and packed up their equipment. Meagan and I set the nets out to dry, washed the bag that carries our poles, inventoried our equipment, and helped the marine team to do the same. After lunch, I helped carry some things to the river but no one expected me to help bring anything across, since I can barely get myself across. The rest of the bat girls went to Ft. Shirley to drop off the equipment for storage there until next summer, and I stayed behind to pack my things and possibly swim, though there was a lot of rain in the afternoon. The packing was good, and I was happy I could get my boots in my bag and won't have to wear them on the plane ride home. I did make it for a swim and hair rinse when the weather cleared. When I came from the river, Kersel was making carrot cake. He's also making pizzas for us and making a lemon cake. So nice. The weather cleared after I packed my bag, so I went to Mermaid Pool and had it all to myself. It was my last visit, and though I'll be sad to leave it, I was glad my last trip was private.

After my swim and some reading, I headed to the dining hall, but Shelly was not around and the others hadn't come back yet, so I took a few pictures around camp. Then Shelly and I watched a tv show and most of Elf on my computer. When the others came back and started to gather, we joined them. It was quite late when we ate the pizza, close to 9pm. I was so hungry. But we had some chips and the pizza was super good. Once the drinking and singing started, I lasted only a short while before turning in for the night.

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