Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Making the Rounds

July 20, 2012
Do you ever just look at yourself and think “I like who I am. Crazy hair, ripped to shred boots and all.” Those people who you met on airplanes and they have this amazing life story and they are just Superman or Wonder Woman. I finally came to the realization that I can be one of those people. I can race triathlons, travel where ever I get the chance, and be a doctor. (If I work hard enough to accomplish it.) 
I’ve also discovered that wearing shirts from old races gives people a starting point to talk to you about. I wore my City 6 5K shirt and have had 2 different groups of people comment on it so far. In this way, I met a bunch of teachers from Iowa, Arizona and Wyoming. 

On a completely irrelevant side note, I have discovered Cinnamon Tea and I’m not sure how I’ve lived my life without it. 

July 21, 2013
Despite the fact that yesterday was a iButton refresh day (the temperature probes only have enough space to collect data for four days and then must be plugged into a computer to retrieve the data and refresh the iButton) which entails hiking to all our currently deployed iButtons (these days are normally followed by an easy day to rest our legs), it sounds like today will be doing a lot of hiking. Kaitlin. The Puma bivouac at the top of Curi Cancha still has not emigrated so I will hike up there and check on them again. Kaitlin wants to go down to Bajo del Tigre to see if we can find and collect some more Eciton for thermotolerance. It’s hard to deploy iButtons there since one side of the path is a cliff face and the other a drop off. It makes it really hard to follow the raiding ants back to the bivouac over a cliff. She also wants to see if we can go down the Cafetal to hack our way through the valley of fallen bananas to find a bivouac we know is there somewhere. “Easy day” my butt. (In reality it’s really not that bad. Keeps a girl in good shape.)
I have recently been on a cooking and recipe kick. Since most of my cooking will be paleo when I return to Philly and I don’t know too many paleo recipes, I have been spending a good deal of my wifi time looking up paleo blogs. It’s odd. When people say no grains or legumes, you automatically think “uhhhh no.” But a lot of these recipes actually look really good. (My favorite so far is the coconut chocolate truffles but the curry made with coconut milk looks really good too.) I’m not saying that I could ever give up grains entirely but I think I am capable of limiting it. I also discovered that quinoa is a seed not a grain which means I can trick myself into thinking I’m eating grain when I’m not actually. (I didn’t know there was a difference between grains and seeds.) I also need to look up whether corn is a grain, seed or vegetable. I think it depends on what definition you are going by. 
On a side note: I did go back to La Colina and get the recipe for those Oreo truffles:
You need: cream cheese, Oreos, and chocolate chips
(I didn’t get the proportions but my guess is a block of cream cheese to a bag of Oreos to a bag of chocolate chip is around the right ratio. I’ll have to experiment when I get home. Oreos are pretty hard to find here and I don’t think the school would want me experimenting on their dime.)
To make (and I love how easy this is): Blend the cream cheese and Oreos in a food processor, roll into balls, and put on a cookie sheet. Melt the chocolate chips (a double boil system would be best I think) and drizzle it over them. Stick it all in the freezer until firm. And viola! Instant diet killers! (But they are so worth it, trust me.) 
July 22, 2013
Our time in Monteverde is drawing to a close. For some of us, I think we are relieved to go back to our families and friends in the states. Kaitlin is certainly feeling the crunch to get as much data as possible. With the finding of another raid yesterday, we only need one more colony to sample from to reach ten colonies, her target. Unfortunately, we keep finding them in Curci Cancha where we are not allowed to sample from.
Last night we took a very welcome break from our own house. Ms. Mary was invited to family night at the Guindin’s (the ones with the baby sloth), and, being the really awesome person Ms. Mary is, she asked if she could bring us along. So we made chili to bring and drove up to their farm. At this time, it was pouring. The rain was so loud on the tin roof that we could barely hear each other speak. 
The Guindin’s are a very large family. There were three of their children present, all the age of my parents, with their children but I think there are eight Guindin children in all. They were all incredibly welcoming. Everyone brought a dish which were all really good. There were some of the grandchildren there, some of whom were in college as well. When the meal was about to be served, we gathered around in a circle and again, as if on synchronized clocks, they all bowed their heads. Quakers. Then it was dig in time. Ms. Lucky, I thought, was incredibly clever and had everyone wash their own dishes so there wasn’t any clean up after. She also made a chocolate cake and frozen whipped cream. (Yea...I had two piece. But Tessa had three. I don’t blame her, it was a really good cake.) 
They have quite the menagerie: not only do they have the one baby sloth, they also have another grown one that hangs around outside.They also have a porcupine that was really cute though that ones not allowed in the house anymore after Ms. Lucky found it creeping beside her head when she was sleeping one night. They also have the regular pets like a cat that likes you one moment and hates you the next and a dog. Adding to the over the crazy top-ness of the house, everyone, excluding us, were bilingual. So there was always a whirl English/Spanish going around. At the end of the night, I was invited to play doubles solitaire. This was nothing like the slow, calming, and boring single player game. This was instead a crazy fast game where everyone can play off each other’s aces. Everyone else had obviously already played this game and on the first round I was thrashed. It was a bit sad actually. The second round I did much better, with the help of Ms. Mary. After that we went home to get Tessa to bed. (We’ve been going to bed pretty early here since Tessa and I never switched time zones. I’ve slowly been pushing my time later and later but Tessa goes to bed at 9:00 pm sharp.)

Still searching for lower elevation ants, today Kaitlin suggested that we hike down into the San Louis valley via the main road. And so down we went.
 You know a hill is bad when it’s so steep that it hurts to walk down it. We all agreed that it was going to suck coming back up. But, as with ever other hard hike we’ve done, there we some pretty incredibly views to go with the aching knees.
 And that was our morning hike. All in all we hiked for about three hours though most of this was spent hiking up the mountain.
 We all try our own way to get up: Kaitlin just powered up the hills, I went at a mildly faster pace and practiced yoga breathing, and Tessa decided to walk backwards up the mountain. To each his own I suppose. We did all stop to wait for each other and take breaks. These were my favorites. We got to sit down, eat some cracker to stave off the hanger (anger resulting from hunger) and enjoy the incredible views. And since we were on the pacific side of the mountain, we enjoyed and were a bit blown around by the wind coming over the mountain. 
Taking a short break at La Colina before heading over to whole foods and Abuela to get some lunch, we were distracted by the man at the lodge advertising home made lemon bars. Well Kaitlin and I could hardly resist. So we happily ate our snack as other animals around the lodge noticed. I saw them coming. Keeping a sharp eye on the turkey that has more than once come strait up to us and tried to peck at our shiny laptops, I didn’t even see the chicken until it had already snatched a bite from my dessert. Angry face. 
After quickly finishing our delectable treat before more critters could do it for us, we hiked over to Abuela so we could eat some more. Then we did some much needed grocery shopping. We had gotten a ride to  Packing everything into our backpacks to save on plastic, we realized that we did indeed look like school children.
 ... obviously my lunch was pineapple. I love pineapple and here it is sweeter than any at home. We’ll cut a pineapple at lunch and eat the entire thing in one sitting. I have this sinking feeling that we are going to go back to the States and I’m going to be “What is this? This isn’t a banana. Why is it green? Why is my pineapple still green? Why was this picked before it was ripe? Oh. Right. I’m not in Monteverde anymore.” T’will be a sad day I’m certain of it. But hopefully this will instill a new sense of greenness in me, if only because fruits are a thousand times better when they are picked when ripe and not before and left to ripen on a ship or in a truck. 

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