Saturday, July 31, 2010

Getting ready to leave

Yesterday was a busy one with 2 trips to the university including a tour of the instituto and meeting some of the faculty, a trip downtown to INEGI to get maps, lots of walking and many trips on the metro and metrobus. The Institute is a beautiful building - actually 4 buildings connected by a 3 story greenhouse roof and the campus has lots of pretty buildings, art, sculpture, etc. TD was particularly taken by these giant rattle snakes.

By the time we got home at 6, we were too tired to hit the grocery store, so we will do that this morning before we leave at 3. 

Gabi (SR and TD's advisor) found out yesterday that we may have direct access to the Rancho el Cielo station which also has a place to stay. This is good news, as we thought we would have to stay in a nearby town and hike in. We may still have to hike in, but at least we will be where we need to be and have a place to stay, plus the staff will be able to show us any caves on the reserve--great places to find salamanders. We will collect any other amphibians and reptiles along the way though. Should be fun!
blue corn quesadillas for lunch - one chicken, one huitlacoche for me

Friday, July 30, 2010

In Mexico

It was all smooth sailing yesterday, which was great. All our bags arrived, no questions about our field equipment or 6 months of medication, and Sean was waiting for us when we came out of customs. The three of us and all the luggage actually fit in the car, and it was a short drive to his apartment on University Avenue between the neighborhoods of Coyoacรกn (a nice historic district) and CU (Ciudad Universitaria). We are very conveniently located - grocery, walmart, cafes within walking distance.

Sean's apartment is very nice, on the first floor, but away from the street. There is a locked entry gate. It has two bedrooms and nice white terrazzo floors. Our room is completely empty, so in the coming days we will be buying a bed and perhaps some other furniture. Last night we slept on the futon which was very comfortable.

Today we have a busy day with  a trip to the university for TD to get his employment paper work started and for Sean to reserve a truck for a trip in August. Then its a big trip to INEGI (like USGS) to get maps for our trip and the grocery store to buy food for our trip to Rancho el Cielo.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Our new life in Old Mexico

The bags are (pretty much) packed and we are (almost) ready for our flight tomorrow morning. I will admit I am not yet mentally prepared for moving to Mexico/working in Mexico/living apart from TD for 4-8 months, but we will take it one day at a time.

We head out in just a few days with our fabulous pal, SR and some colleagues to El Cielo Biosphere reserve in Tamalipas. I've wanted to visit there since college - its the northern most occurrence of cloud forest in the neotropics and noted for unique flora and fauna. We'll be there for a week before we head to Chimalapas, one of the least populated areas in Mexico. In both places we will be with researchers from UNAM, looking mostly for salamanders.

We are excited about our big adventure (our biggest one yet!) and I'm looking forward to documenting our travels on the blog.

Friday, July 23, 2010

The Maiden Voyage of Penelope Penobscot

One of our best wedding presents was a canoe from TD's Bestman. Together, they have had many fun canoe trips in their day and Bestman picked us out a great one. We named her Penelope Penobscot. We took her our along with TD's sister and family, including the pups.

Scout - the labrador - had never swam before, but all he needed was a little encouragement to follow the canoe.

TD also had the brilliant idea to put Scout in the boat. It didn't last long, but thankfully we didn't all go oveboard when he decided to jump out.

The canoe was a blast, hopefully we can go out once more before we head to Mexico next week.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Ecological Honeymoon: Corcovado and Sirena

After a relaxing afternoon and evening at the ecolodge, we headed out the next morning for our hike into Corcovado National Park to Sirena Station. We spent two nights here with our guide Felipe and walkedout on the 3rd day. The hike into the park is about 8 miles with several stretches along sandy beaches. There are a couple of passes along rocky headlands, so its important to time the hike with the tides.

Natural history collection at La Leona Ranger Station

TD hiked in his rubber boots. He carried the backpack, I had a large fannypack plus all of our water. It was good to travel light.

Our first snake

Hummingbird nest made of spider silk


Beautiful view along the beach at high tide

Ameiva lizard with a bird egg

Adorable squirrel monkey

So many hermit crabs eating a coconut

Dead hawksbill turtle

We were really ready to get off the beach and out of the sand

Tapir! We also saw two tapir on a night hike.

Arriving at the airstrip and Sirena station

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

In case you were wondering...

If I was excited to get my iPad - why yes, yes I was.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Summer food

Last week TD and I had a great simple, summer dinner: hamburgers with homegrown tomatoes, and melon. Yummy! I had a sparkling shiraz and TD had a Skinny Dip.

We cooked on the charcoal grill at Tom's sister's because we were house sitting for these two.

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Ecological Honeymoon: Osa Penisula

After leaving SR in San Jose, TD and I had an early flight to Puerto Jiminez, the gateway to the Osa and Corcovado National Park. We had an amazing time and saw tons of wildlife! We stayed at a great family run ecolodge and also hiked into Sirena-the park headquarters-where I spent a few months as a field assistant when I was an undergrad.
Our teeny plane

The ecolodge was a pleasant 30 minute hike along the beach. Thankfully there was a horse-cart for our bags.

We arrived just in time for lunch - the food was amazing!

We had a great tent cabin facing the beach

Fun outdoor bathroom

The beautiful view from our front porch

We stayed at the Ecolodge for one night and left early the next day with our guide for a hike and 2 nights at Sirena inside Corcovado.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Joining the iWorld

For my birthday TD and my family surprised me with an iPad. I love it! It's awesome having something so small and convenient to connect to the world. I do agree that it's not really for 'creating' content as much as consuming - it's certainly worthwhile for email, Twitter, reading blogs, watching movies, sharing pictures, and on and on.
Apple iPad MB292LL/A Tablet (16GB, Wifi)
As I type this I am at a Starbucks in Houston waiting for an appointment at the Brazilian consulate - replying to email, reading papers and keeping up with the world. I love it!!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Jelly time!

 Mom and I put away 26.5 cups (33 jars) of Wild Plum Jelly today. From the tastes we had as we went along, its going to be great - a perfect combination of sweet and tart. These will make great gifts, and will last us for a while. We did the jelly in 3 batches and it took us 3 hours to cook, can and process, plus a trip to the store for more jars and Sure-jell. Thankfully I got a BIG stockpot from my parents as a shower gift - I am looking forward to doing more canning but need to get a jar funnel, jar tongs, and a rack before I can do it on my own.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Plum' happy

TD and I went with my parents to our ranch this weekend. We had a great time - Cooper's BBQ, road cruising, checking out an abandoned house, and the best  part - picking ripe thicket plums. Mom and I will make plum jam this week. Yum!

Friday, July 9, 2010

July Net worth Update

My July networth crept up - barely. The market has continued its downward trend and even though I am in it for the long term, its disheartening to see. Also I am still waiting for about $3000 in reimbursements for moving and work.

On the positive end, TD and I are staying with family this summer. This rent-free lifestyle is allowing us sock away about $1600 a month in savings while still doing a lot of travel. We just purchased our tickets to Mexico for the end of the month - I hope those checks come in the mail soon!!

Net Worth History Chart

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

No really, we're professionals...

When TD and I were describing to his Mom what we were going to be doing at the reserve, she asked several questions about how we would find animals, what we would do with them, etc. After we finished describing to her what we would be doing, she said, "Wow you are really professional!"

Yes, this is actually what we do for a living. Professionally.

So here are some of the creepy crawlies that we found. All of the reptiles and amphibians were collected, identified, photographed, preserved, and deposited at the Museo Zoologia at the University of Costa Rica.

TD photographing. Finding enough time when it wasn't raining to photograph was a challenge.

Trying to tire out the lizard before photographing, so that he won't attempt to escape.

SR and TD photographed while I played photo-stylist and animal-wrangler.

The reserve had a very nice wet lab set up, including scopes and a dehumidifier. 

This big guy was a roadkill. He is a jumping viper (Mano de piedra) - Atropoides nummifer

The guys wanted to show us a large Mano de piedra on the trail, before coffee or breakfast. I could have waited.

Walking stick - amazing crypsis to look just like a mossy branch!

Amazing GIANT caterpillar with orange and lavender spines.

Most adorable creature ever - juvenile Mexican Mouse Opossum - Marmosa mexicana