Man, been a while since my last post although it feels like I haven’t done that much. First off, I had a fantastic trip back to the states thanks to all my family and friends. Particular thanks to the squad that came out for a margarita and an escape room in Newark, I had a fantastic time. I forgot how cold the U.S. could get, but also how great the food and drinks are. I had quite a few plates of chicken wings for those of you who are wondering, but besides one bowl of pozole, not a single bite of Mexican or creole food. I count that as my greatest failure. After romping around Newark for a week, I flew back to Peru sick as a dog. For some reason I had nonstop nosebleeds from when I set foot in the U.S. until yesterday.
Back in Peru, I had a few meetings and had to do some shopping so I spent three days in Iquitos. Living in Iquitos is always tough because I know nobody and it always feels really lonely eating and going everywhere by myself. I’m forever that guy at the restaurant eating dinner by himself. It felt even worse after I had just come back from the States with all my friends, so it was a rough few days. Regardless, I got a lot of work done that had been lacking and last Friday I made the long trek back to Sucusari.
I had been really stressed about my interviews. Since I had been gone from Sucusari for three weeks, I was missing three weeks-worth of interviews with hunters and sometimes after a week or so they start to forget information; and it’s not like I can find every hunter the first day I am back, either. The students from Spain, Jesus and Ana, had agreed to help me with my interviews while I was gone, but I didn’t know if they actually did any, or how many and with whom. When I got back to my house and pulled up the data Jesus took, I was pleasantly surprised; they managed to do interviews with about 80% of the hunters while I was gone but there was still a two-week gap in the data. The following days were spent trying to track down hunters in between rainstorms, and entering data when I was stuck in the house or couldn’t find the people I was still missing. I also brought back another roll of mosquito netting from Iquitos, so I have been busy closing the upstairs of my house in mosquito mesh (finally).
I have spent the last two days at the lodge, teaching a workshop for all of the lodge staff and guides on mammals, hunting, mineral licks, and the Maijuna. Every guide has been working for Explorama for over 20 years and has an incredible amount of knowledge and experience, but they’re like sponges always trying to soak in more. We went out to two mineral licks on Explorama property to change the camera traps and I gave a series of lectures on how to effectively engage tourists about the research that is ongoing in the Sucusari River Basin and how Explorama supports that work. I know lots of the guides pretty well now, so it was a nice two days to relax among friends and eat good food while still doing awesome work.
Pato is alive and well, although he lost one of his back toes somehow, somewhere. Marina cut off the broken, hanging toe with her machete and bound it with chambira, and he’s still just as annoying and rowdy he just hops around instead of runs around. I personally feel that the hopping suits his personality better. Unfortunately, several of my indoor plants and flowers dried up and died while I was gone, but lots are still alive and I am trying to revive them so they don’t look as sad. When my work slows down I will head back to the forest and find some more to replace the dead ones.
Now, it is time to prepare my house and my work schedule for the arrival of several more people (Katie!!!!!, Ellie, Forrest, and three new students: Carlos, Garrett, and Dimitri). Then, Mike (my advisor) is coming down with a class full of students and we will again run the Peru study abroad course here while at the same time reviewing all the research methods and making sure that we are on the same page with everything. It is a daunting few weeks coming up, but I’m excited to have more people around the house. Also, it’s Christmas! My first solo Christmas. I have a bottle of dusty old wine I found in the back of my lockroom – that’s going to be Christmas dinner I think.
Enjoy the holidays everyone, and Feliz Navidad from Sucusari! And enjoy this photo of a two-striped forest pit viper I photographed on the canopy walkway.