July 5, 2013
This place can be as creepy as it is beautiful. I feel like Steven King would get along well here. The fog rolls and laps across the untrimmed yard, laps at the house, tumbles over the roof. I can see it from the window, I can feel its chill even from within the safety of the bodaga (the large shed we use as lab space). Thunder has been oncoming for some time. You could hear its very distant ruble two hours ago. Once night falls at 5 or 6, bird calls that sound eerily like a wounded animal’s screams will echo through the forest that creeps onto the yard. Add some howler monkey calls to this scene and you have the perfect setting for a discovery of a dead body. (Have you ever heard a howler monkey’s call? Most hair raising sound ever. I had the unfortunate opportunity to appreciate it in its full when setting out Labidus traps in a foggy forest...trying to beat the on coming storm...with thunder booming...by myself.)When thermotolerance testing goes late into the night (and by late into the night I mean like 7 pm), I run the short covered gap from the back door to the bodaga.
Or so Steven King would write.
It doesn’t really take long for one to realize why this ecosystem is called the cloud forest.
We’ve found a rhythm, the three of us. Kaitlin and I trade off meals, borrow each other’s copies of Walking With Wolf (a memoir about a resident here in Monteverde, I highly suggest it), and entertain each other on the long hikes with stories of our childhood escapades. Kaitlin’s are definitely the funniest. Kaitlin in general is pretty hilarious. Of all the grad students that I could’ve ended up working with, I’m so grateful that it’s Kaitlin Baudier. Not only is she incredibly passionate and excited about her work, she is in general an awesome, crazy, and chilled person. She always keeps Tessa and myself laughing. Here is one story of her craziness: Sour Milk.
It was my turn to cook last night. As a nice treat for all of us in celebration of surviving 3 weeks in Costa Rica (with no internet), I decided to make cinnamon rolls for dessert. This required milk. The issue we had was that there was the really good milk...or once good milk from the creamery down the road. Two days ago it started to smell funny but if we heated it, it was fine. But by last night, it was just getting too funky. Forgoing the risk associated with maybe possibly bad milk, I just used some from the cartons we have also. I just left the tub of mostly drunken, probably bad milk on the counter reasoning that we would figure out what to do with it later.
Well four hours later, after dinner, we are once again confronted with the decision of what to do with bad milk. (One does not simply throw anything away here in Monteverde.) For some reason, Kaitlin decided to really test how bad the milk was, knowing full well how...off it smelled four hours ago. She popped the lid off the jug and took a big wiff.
“WHEW!” Though I do have to admit, the look on her face was priceless. We spent the next few minutes bent over laughing at each other.
Just today, Kaitlin and I were discussing the unfortunate experiences of bad hand shakes. This was a response to the line “I’ve never really been good at handshakes” that I read in the book I’m reading (The Thirteenth Tale: Diane Setterfield).
“What?” I exclaimed. “How can you be bad at giving a hand shake? It’s really not that difficult.”
“Well you do get people who give you the awkward ones,” Kaitlin offers.
“Or crush your hand.”
“Or gives you a dead fish.”
“Or offers you a really sweaty palm.”
“Ah! What’s worse is when they’re like ‘hold on a second’ and wipe their palm down the side of their jeans. I really don’t want to shake that but you went to all of the bother to wipe it for me.”
This is probably not what STAR wants me to blog about. So to add in some relevant stuff about our research: we found a bivouac in Curi Cancha which is both awesome and not awesome. It’s awesome because it is at a high elevation and exposed enough to get iButtons in. It is not awesome because it is an hour hike from here to the bivouac and we have to check on it everyday. Tomorrow Kaitlin wants to hike up to the radio tower on the adjacent mountain. I’m afraid if we find a bivouac up there, we’ll have to do that hike (3 hours from here to there I think) everyday as well.