Sunday, July 14, 2013

Ants (and other bugs) In Our Pants

July 9, 2013
So we hiked up Serra Amigos today. I won’t complain about our daily climb anymore after that one. Compared to Serra Amigos, every incline is a reasonable one. At the almost top, (we didn’t go all the way to the summit because there is nothing up there but radio towers and land we aren’t suppose to be on) we had reached 1,740m (which is close to 5,000ft I think). Tessa, her knees troubling her from the abundance of hiking we’ve been doing lately, was a real trouper and hauled her butt up that mountain. Don’t let anyone ver tell you that there’s anything that can’t be accomplished with determination because that right there was impressive. We did have to make frequent stops to eat cookies and such. It was steep hill upon steep hill for a straight hour. We were all huffing and puffing by the time we reached the almost top. 

We had hoped to scout out Eciton at their highest limit. Either because it is pretty cold today and more so up higher or because they just weren’t around, we did not find any Eciton. We did however find a smaller species of army ants that we are doing thermotolernces on. We also saw, much to Kaitlin’s excitement, an ocelot! It ran right across the muddy road, attempted to climb the other bank and failed, probably severely freaked out by Kaitlin’s mad pointing and screaming “Oh My God! It’s an ocelot!”, and then returned up the bank that it came down on. Spot of the day.
We figure we’ve probably been hiking about 10 km a day. (No days off) So that would mean that we’ve probably hiked about 200 km in the time that we’ve been here so far. I really hope that counts as training for triathlon because I’m having a hard time doing anything else than hike and collapse on my bed, the couch, or the floor depending on which is closest. 

It’s funny. I find myself liking, enjoying even, things that I did not in the states. For instance, I have never been a fan of bananas. But here, when the bananas have been picked off the tree at the peaks of ripeness and not pre-ripe like they are when intended to ship to the states, they are so much more sweeter. We have been using bananas a lot in our cooking: banana pie, banana pancakes and Drunken Bananas. Drunken Bananas are bananas stuffed with chocolate and drizzled with rum and put in the oven until the alcohol is cooked off and the chocolate is melted. However, we didn’t spring for the imported hershey’s chocolate chips and used the cheeper bad halloween candy-esque chocoolate which refused to melt! I also accidentally over shot my rum quantity, which I blame on poor directions as to the amount needed (enough to soak it is not the same as a glug), and drowned mine. Though all the alcohol did burn off, Tessa had a good time laughing at me. “You’re not suppose to drown it!” My bad. Thus the name Drunken Bananas was made. The other thing that I’ve become used to is getting bit and stung by army ants. When you stand in the middle of their column and poke things into their bivouacs, they really aren’t happy with you. Everyone has been stung at least twice. For me, behind the ear was the most painful. (Little bugger climbed up a tree I was brushed against and got me.) Kaitlin though has had it the worst. Trying to keep us out of as much danger as she can, she’s the one how will do the more risky things around the ants resulting often in her being bitten on the butt. Numerous times.  

July 14, 2013
So Tessa and I have come down with something. We’ve been taking turns being too ill to hike in the morning and afternoon. We can’t leave Kaitlin without anyone to help. So unless my stomach pangs are really unbearable it’s a suck-it-up-buttercup kind of a situation. Kaitlin of course is very kind about it all. She’s the only one not ill. 
Despite of that, there have been daily hikes to Curi Cancha (about an hour hike away to get to the entrance and another 40 minutes to get to the top of the trail system where our highest bivouac is found. From there we can work our way down the mountainous park.) So far we have found four bivouacs in the park and since we are having trouble deciding if they are in their nomadic phase, or kinda nomadic phase since a lot of these higher elevation colonies are not moving every night, or if they are in a statery phase. It’s fun to look all professional researcher like when tourists walk by and then they ask what it is that we are doing and such. The down side to Curi Canch is that we are not allowed to collect specimens there which makes thermotolerances kinda hard to do when you don’t have any ants. Bad for me and my poster. I’m starting to feel the crunch to get as much data as possible. Only 2 weeks left until we leave Costa Rica. We did hike down the mountain yesterday afternoon and found a raid front. I say we found a raid front and not the bivouac because despite our best attempts, we could not find it. Even when Kaitlin cut her way up a cliff face made solely of fallen banana trees we could not find it. (Speaking of banana trees, they are the stupidest trees ever. They fall down easily yet remain incredibly sticky and just all around get on your way. Why can’t you just stand up like a NORMAL TREE?!? Though your fruit is delicious.)
There was a brief period earlier this week when we finally got ICE (the phone and internet company here) to come to the house to fix the internet. They don’t speak English so it was interesting. Instead of fixing the internet and using the router we already have to give us wifi, we ending up with broadband that only worked on Kaitlin’s computer... for a brief time. Then the internet blinked out as did the phone. Grr face. So now we have no phone and no internet. 
OH! Tessa would also like me to add that she found a dead wasp in her pants a couple nights ago so she would like me to include her contribution to the title. 
It can’t decide here what season it wants to be. Yesterday it was a typical rainy season day, really still in the morning and then pours at like 2 or 3, or a dry season day, breezy in the morning with a crystal clear blue sky and then it rains later in the evening. On rainy days in the morning, it is so clear in the mountains. Of course soon the clouds roll in and fog over the scenery, but in the morning, we can see all the way to the Bay of Nicoya and to the Pacific Ocean beyond it. 

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