Day 17, Thursday, July 27 Today is departure day. Waiting around to leave for Guanales until the primatologist finds out if her photos were all deleted from her camera or if they can be saved on some special software that Justin has. She is studying the mantled howler monkey and it will be interesting to walk to the camp with her and Sergio. I like that we are not in a rush and have had the opportunity to send out emails. I will be leaving my computer and camera behind, so will have to write notes about my weekend and also plan to bring my pencils for some plant drawing. I always feel hungry out here. Took a semi-shower this morning, washed hair and extremeties, but didn’t have it in me (the water is ice cold) to do my body core. I feel relatively clean. It’s all relative.
The hike in was flat for awhile leading away from Base Camp, then headed down, down, down. The down was slippery at times, especially at the end where it became very steep just as my legs were all rubbery and struggling to hold up the weight of my pack. But I made it. The camp generator was humming so I knew we were closing in. It didn’t take all that long, going down hill never does. We arrived in the camp and it looked like a tiny jungle settlement with pitched roof blue tarps sheltering a kitchen and dining area, as well as a campfire square. I figured the tarps were for protection from the rain, but falling figs also pose hazards, and their loud thuds were a part of the camp sounds, though they always made me jump. I decided that sleeping in a hammock would be best, and found one just down from the center of the camp. Sergio took me around to show where girls go, boys go, and solids go. The solids go in an area that has rows of trenches dug. You do your thing then cover it with a shovel. There’s a pink string outside the area to put across the path so the next person knows the area is in use. There were already several others at the camp, Nic Donato, the camp manager has been traveling for a year and a half, spending time studying monkeys in costa rica before coming to honduras; Kathy is a primatologist, the howler monkey lady, who teaches in Mexico? She’s from england and has red hair and has studied monkeys in indonesia as well; kate is a volunteer primatologist from canada who’s wild about pictionary; Kristen is a dissertation student from Canada, studying primate activity budgets. Her grandparents overwinter in Scottsdale; Dom is a dung beetle volunteer who worked at Wimbleton one summer and had the scoop on the various tennis players and how much a person working at wimbleton makes (5 pounds plus tips, 400 pounds in tips); Steen Frank (Copenhagen) is the other dung-beetle guy, possibly from Germany or else Switzerland (or Sweden?), he has an entomologist look about himself and was always classifying his bug catch and tucking away the bugs in little opaque envelopes and some with alcohol in special bug bags (beetles in the bags, moths and butterflies in the envelopes). Steve is a herp researcher, from Pennsylvania, he plays the guitar. Ferny is a funny guy, he looks kind of like Jesus and is quite comedic in a very innocent, wide-eyed way, Working on his dissertation with small mammals, not really sure what he’ll be analyzing, but quite eager and enthusiastic, he has a infectiously goofy-happy approach. He wanted to learn to climb a tree and Alex the guide demonstrated how easily a fit Honduran can climb a tree using two looped ropes. Geoff While is an Australian, at the University of Tasmania, where he studies evolution of social relationships in a lizard – egernis or something along those lines. He is quite nice and we talk a bit about how much we look forward to going home. He has brown hair and blue eyes and strikes me as being very outback in his looks. Tonight we played pictionary. The most eclectic group I’ve ever played pictionary with. Well, I’ve never actually played pictionary before, but no matter if I had a hundred times, it is unlikely I would have played with primatologists from UK and Canada, European entomologists, a Columbian with the energy of three people, and a guy that looks like Jesus. I feel kind of shy at first and really don’t want to play, but force myself to and it ends up being a lot of fun. My picks for most unusual phrases used in the game: Samurai penguin and Tiger penis soup. These British people have such interesting accents. Kathy explains that all things can be categorized by the words proper, well, and quite in that order, with proper being the highest degree. I like that they say cheers always instead of thanks. I also like that they say bloody hell as a sort of swear. Other favorite words and phrases include rubbish, They use catsup on everything out here, everyone squirting it all over their beans and tortillas. I am not desperate enough for that, although I thought I quite enjoy catsup. I feel as though I’m studying the UK’s as much as anything. There’s always a lot of talk of food, as the Hondurans prepare the meals very simply and without spice, so everything tastes similar - bland. We are obviously always fairly hungry, exerting so much energy and not a lot of protein in our meals, but the food talk says it all.