Wednesday, July 19, 2006

moths and bromeliads

Day 11, Friday, July 21 Merijn Jocque (University of Leuven, Belgium) the bromeliad guy is looking at aquatic invertebrates colonising bromeliads. He peels and washes his bromeliad leaves in a green 5 gallon bucket and explains what he’s doing, how to process bromeliads, record weights and measurements, peeling each leaf apart, washing them, looking at how many bromeliads are in the vicinity of the specimen in the forest, record data on the jungle cover, etc. He can process two bromeliads per day, three if he hurries. He is looking at how disturbance, altitude, and forest type affect the fauna of bromeliads.

I like watching Edwardo, the moth guy from Lisbon, Portugal, process his insects. Processing them involves putting them in a small dish and picking away detritus and debris before packing them away in a small plastic bag. It looks fairly tedious, but there is something about mundane tedious tasks that I enjoy. Pure zen. Perhaps I should have been an entomologist, if only for the beetle processing aspects. Besides moths, he has many beetles, including small shiny black horned beetles crawling in moonwalk-like fashion against the sealed sample bag. My favorite among his bags contains a beautiful jewel beetle whose back is shiny like a christmas tree ball and eyes like liquid mercury. Out at the transect he has a light trap, which was quite beautiful and filled with moths of every variety including some very large ones with yellow browns greens and blues. To kill them he injects them with something so they keep their form and colors. He is a bit of a slob, however, leaving platefuls of food from last night’s meal at his work area. There are fewer people in the camp today, which bodes well for our dinner, it seems the fewer the people the more likely we are to have something out of the ordinary rice and bean variety, or at least an interesting side like avocado or plantain. I have noticed that each time I get to a new camp I have a bit of an adjustment period, and it feels a little rough, but it is less harsh than when I arrived at the first camp and am starting to get into the adjustment flow. First adjust to being in honduras, then secondary adjustments to the difficulties presented at each camp. There are no mirrors here anywhere. Being concerned with the way I look would be silly. We are all mostly unkempt, muddy, on the verge of mildew, and wearing the same clothes as the day before. New students arrive every Tuesday, and are always easy to distinguish, with their makeup, fresh faces and bright colors. It all will fade under a layer of mud within a day.

I was right about dinner. We had maduros fritos, a meal to really celebrate. I had 3 large ones with beans, rice and a scrambled egg concoction.

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