Day 15, Tuesday, July 25 Malaria Tuesday (the easiest way to remember to take my weekly malaria pill). Last night was a productive bat netting night. We hiked up to transect 2 around 6, set up the nets and then ate dinner which contained a couple onion rings and some couscous looking pasta things and egg. Although the start of the day wasn’t so great, awakened much earlier than I wanted after getting to bed around 2 the night before, and feeling like I would crack, then hiking down for lunch and as I sat waiting for the food to be served I remembered that I had not closed the windows to my and Aidan’s room. Contemplating whether I should eat real quick and then go back, it became obvious that the meal was still being prepared and so many students had arrived that day that the serving line would move slowly. So back down the hill I went. Closed the windows, packed up the rest of my stuff for the evening and headed back to the restaurant. By the time I returned, the eating was nearly finished and although I got a plate, it was just something whipped up fries, lettuce, and sausage. It wasn’t that great, and I fed most of the sausage to the local dog, a content one that looks like he’s adept at spotting folks who don’t eat their sausage. I laid around reading in the hammock all afternoon, resting up for the evening. The hike to transect 2 is not as bad as the night before. We caught 26 bats, of 8 species. Diphylla ecaudata, Artibeus tolteca, Sturnira lilium, Chiroderma salvini, Chiroderma villosum, Platyrrhinus helleri, Myotis keaysi, and Artibeus jamaicensis.
When we closed the nets they were quite full, with about 14 or 15 to process. We made it through them relatively quickly, the two students, Gina and Joe, and our guide for the night (last night’s guide as well) Pastor Cortes, a local, and very nice man were very helpful. We stayed dry, which is always a huge bonus. Walked back and made it to bed right around 3 am. This morning I spent a fair amount of time resting on the balcony, reading the snow leopard. Walked to the Toucan and heard there would be a couple trucks passing through on the way to Base Camp. Not long after, a truck arrived and got filled up with people and bags and as I sat and pondered what to do another truck pulled up and Judy (from el paraiso) stepped out. She said she’d hold the truck for me while I ran down for my bags. I ran down the steep hill one last time, hoping Aidan would be around since he had the key to our room. He was on the hill talking on a satellite phone. I threw my gear together quickly and headed back up the hill. Excrutiating pain. My lungs screaming as I tried to keep a steady pace. When I finally made it back to the restaurant, the truck and a few folks with gear were still waiting. Sergio and I went to get our clothes, I said goodbye to Bruce the birder and hopped in the back of the truck. I had planned to go around and take a few photos, but am not fond of goodbyes anyway. My very quick exit suits me just fine. I will remember Buenos Aires. I hope to see Bruce again, in the last week or perhaps at the airport (if we have the same departure?). He has been great to talk to, and walk up to the restaurant together. We are the older folks and had more in common than with the hordes of young students and researchers still in or just out of college. Hardly anyone here has a job. Bruce is a professor at University of Massachusetts and has been my favorite person to talk to. Back at Base Camp I feel relaxed and have checked emails. There were several waiting for me which is quite rejuvenating. Overall, despite the difficulties, I am aware that things have gone really well for me on this trip. I have been able to work up my fitness, and being paired with Sergio has been great. He is really a great young guy. Full of life and spirit. He knows a lot about bat biology and is very enthusiastic. He always asks me if I’m okay and knows when we need to take it easy. I’m not sure where I’d be in this without him. Or worse yet, with Tamir for the duration. Tonight is rest and relaxation. The next camp will surely test my resolve, but I should have good energy and knowing that I’m heading downhill toward a homecoming will help me put one foot in front of the other.