September 21, 2011


We found a scorpion in the house today! Specifically, hanging out on our stove.

I was skyping with my parents when my roommate Chelsea called me into the kitchen to check it out. We took some pictures and then began our attempts to kill it. Check out this bad boy (it's HUGE!)

Neither one of us wants to get too close because we're afraid of getting stung. We'll get close with an item for smashing and then shriek like little girls when the scorpion threatens. We trap it halfway under the kettle and pause for more pictures.

Big mistake. It frees itself! Now not only is there a scary scorpion around- there is an angry, scary scorpion around. We try to smash it but it races behind the oven. With only its tail and stinger visible, we can't hope to kill it. But I decide to grab a huge knife in an attempt to chop off the dangerous bit of this ravenous beast. I wield my knife like a pro (i.e. frightened 7 year old) and barely knick the tip of the tail as the scorpion rushes farther back behind the stove. Alas.

Teresa and I decided to name the scorpion MC, short for The Scorpion of Monte Cristo. I know that MC is lurking behind the stove, just itching to avenge itself on me at 3 in the morning as I stumble around in the kitchen. Waiting. Lurking. Brooding on its wrongs. Planning a massive sneak attack that will leave me with a painful welt for days. Curse you, MC!

Anyway, that was the most exciting bit of my day today. Stuff with the monkeys continues in much the same way as previous posts. I saw an awesome interaction between an alpha and beta male the other day. It started off as a slow and gentle play wrestle, then the alpha started play biting the beta's head. The beta starts to let out these little half yelps like he's saying, "Ow! This is fun but ow! Also I don't want to piss you off, but ow!"

Finally, beta has enough and runs away. But only for a few feet before he turns and starts sex dancing with alpha (capuchins make duck faces and walk back and forth quickly on a branch, pirouetting, whilst courting). They dance for about a minute, making ridiculous sex squeaks and grunts, before alpha mounts beta. Then all of a sudden they start threatening someone out of view! Mood killer. They freak out a bit and start screaming at the other monkey. Beta runs away.

And we got all of it on dictaphone (recorder), so the data from that will be top notch.

September 13, 2011

Best monkey day yet!

Today was so awesome!!!!!!!!!! I had such an amazing time. Basically everything about it was perfect. I was with Pelon group, which I had seen about 3 weeks ago and not since, so I was pretty much seeing the group for the first time.

The day started off with a river crossing. Which I totally beasted as I hopped from rock to rock and didn't get my feet wet at all! We had an eeriely lovely predawn hike through misty forests and pastures with an almost full moon illuminating everything. It only rained a tiny, tiny bit which cooled down the forest. There were barely any bugs. Sunset was glorious.

Once the monkeys woke up, they behaved themselves all day. They were mainly close to the ground, didn't move too fast, and stayed away from nasty parts of the forest. They played on the ground and did adorable things. They got into big, interesting fights. I saw two very browy, ancient females eyeball-poking each other. I saw two monkeys having sex and the female didn't bother to stop chewing on a stick the whole time. I saw a lovers' tiff between Jorge and Brava. Pitufo, the one-handed male, was his normal badass self- running around, "stumping" things, threatening everyone.

I also had a great day for monkey ids. In order to "pass" a monkey, you have to correctly identify them 5 times, separated by a reasonable amount of time. If you make a mistake, you go back to 0 for that monkey. So far, I've been stoked to pass 6 monkeys in a day when I already had some points for them. Today, starting from 0, I passed 12 monkeys and got a total of 73 id points! It was crazy! It was just "bam! there's a monkey I know" over and over again.

Happy times.

September 10, 2011

A day in my non-monkey life...

A few snapshots of my life outside of the jungle... The first set of pictures takes you on a trip through my town as I run errands.

First, I head down this street to get to Norma's Shop to pick up basic groceries (for fancy things like meat I have to go to SuperCompro). Norma's is a small store run by a woman that Susan (the director of the field site) has grown close to over the years. We have a running tab there and forage behind the counters for whatever we need. I didn't take a picture of the shop itself because I didn't want to feel like a silly gringa. And no, I didn't mess with the colors in this picture- those houses are pink.

Next, on my way to the post office I pass this store. I haven't explored inside yet, but I'm loving the door.

And for those of you who thought you couldn't get quality poutine in Costa Rica... Think again! My town of Bagaces with its 15 streets has Comida Canada! I bet their poutine is better than Montreal's.

And of course, no trip to the post office would be complete without Rawley, the house dog. He follows us everywhere, regardless of how hard we try to lock him inside. Barb wire fences are no obstacle when his moneros are running errands! (Seriously. He crawls through our barb wire fence so that he can walk with us). He's pretty well behaved while you're walking but is impossible to keep out of the stores.


And now here are a couple pictures from my recent trip to Liberia, the main city in this region.

This is a guanacaste tree. And it is awesome.

These are statues outside of an old fort. And they are awesome.


Finally, I leave you with something I see every night. My bootleg mosquito net, repaired with bright purple duct tape.

September 9, 2011

A day in the life...

Hello again! I'm fresh off another 4 days in the field with the monkeys, and I feel I'm starting to get the feel of this job. Here is a description of the exciting bits in a recent field day:

While hanging out with a group of monkeys called "Splinter" in the early morning, Lindsey, Theresa and I spotted a lizard upside down in tree. Lindsey was about to start throwing rocks to determine whether or not it was alive when a tayra showed up! The tayra raced up the tree in which the lizard was lying and stole it. The monkeys spazzed. Predator alarm calls abounded. After the excitement we sat down for breakfast. The monkeys did not. We proceeded to lose them by 6:45.

We searched for a while. First we did a couple trails, then we sat by a favorite river crossing for 2 hours. I ate a delicious field potato and had some field gazpacho (also delicious). Lindsey decided we should check the other side of the river and so we crossed. And found monkeys! Five minutes later the monkeys crossed the river where we had been waiting so I did again as well. Got my feet wet for no reason. Ugh. Aaaaand then 15 minutes later they crossed back. Stupid monkeys.

We got to follow monkeys up an awesome cliff (so much fun!). It was great to literally pull myself up a cliff using vines while avoiding scary ants and thorns. Adventures! We stayed at the top with a fig tree that Splinter was going crazy over. It sounded quite delicious. Capuchins give a little "food peep" when they are snacking on something tasty, and the louder and more frequent those peeps are, the more awesome the food is. Apparently they sound quite obscene during mango season.

All of a sudden we notice ominous rainclouds upriver. We rush down the slope to escape the imminent flood in the river! Very nerve-wracking. We cross and sit by the banks to watch its fury. It proceeded not to flood even the tiniest bit. Anticlimatic.