I'm beginning to get settled in, in different ways. For the last few nights I've had my room to myself, which allowed me to spread out, and doing so made me feel more like my stay here is more than temporary. Matt and I are waiting to move into the cabana that will be our permanent room while we're here. The lodge has been remodeling and updating this room for us. It has a big common room with a big table, for work, two bedrooms, a storage room that we can lock our equipment in, and a big bathroom. This will be great, we can finally organize all our stuff, and I can stop living out of my suitcase!
Understanding Spanish is getting easier each day, and the more I pick up, the more I use. I really need to force myself to use it! I tend to keep quiet when I'm not sure of what I'm saying (imagine that, me... quiet). I'm getting used to the new faces and names. I'm getting to know all the roads in the different towns, and who lives where, and who's related to who.
Our director, Dr. Venetia Briggs, has gone back to the states, leaving the project in the hands of Matt and I. We're definitely not alone, the lodge owner, and many landowners are exceedingly willing to help. So far things have gone smoothly, and we've made more progress than we had expected in the last few days!
Here are two small anecdotes that I really enjoy:
One evening while helping one of the guides here at the lodge with his GPS, he saw my facebook profile picture (of me standing on top of the High Temple, smiling). He said, "who's that gringa?" (the female form of the word gringo, aka white folk), my response, "me, of course, don't I look like a gringa?" He replied, "No, you look like una chica de bosque!" This made me pretty happy actually, that he would say that I look like a jungle girl. I guess I am settling in!
Just this evening, Matt and I were walking around the town of Indian Church, finding the local landowners we need to check cameras with next week, when we were approached by someone asking to talk. He is the son of one of the landowners that we work with, and associated us with the wildcat project. There is a problem in a town that's pretty for away (half a day drive, which in a small country, is far), where a large jaguar is killing livestock, pets, and even children for food, and this is not the first time we've heard about this cat. This man was asking for help, hoping that we could tranquilize the jaguar and move him somewhere else! Sadly we haven't gotten to the trapping portion of our project, and only have permits to work in our current study area. We did however, promise to make contacts with people who could possibly help, but it was great to be associated with this, as if we are the local jaguar biologists.
So for now, things are going quite well, and the project is moving along! I'm kept quite busy, and luckily haven't had too much time to think about how much I miss home, family, friends, and especially pets.