Sunday, November 22, 2009

Clouds and Rain

Radiotransmitter Insertion

Maya has a difficult time sleeping in Yanayacu. She cries out in terror in a sleep state and I have to lie beside her on the narrow twin bed. I am not sure what scares her so much, but the first time we visited it was the insects which were being examined by the students which affected her (they caught the insects in a white sheet with a light behind it and we thought it was interesting, but it seems to have affected Maya negatively even though we have twice again returned to Yanyacu). Eric worked until midnight and then he took over. I climbed up the rickedy bunkbed and slept a few hours until Eric woke up at 5 to record the Plain Tailed Wrens. It was raining too heavily to make the recordings, and it continued to rain all day.

Ant Bird

I met some molecular biologists from Yale who set up nets to catch birds and tag them and insert a radio tracking device for the birds for whose nests were unknown. I spent much of the day hiking through the mud to the nets to check for birds, to untangle the ones who were caught, and deliver them to Harold Greene (the owner and originator of Yanayacu) who tagged them, took blood for genetic studies, weighed them and measured their metatarsal length, and added the tracking device if indicated. It rained on and off all day and it was vital to get to the birds before they were stuck in the nets for too long (if cold and stuck they would die). In between finding birds, there were interesting discussions about evolution and sexual selection and I found myself interested and intrigued and more understanding of Eric and his fascination with science.

Genetic Studies on Thrush

Maya was happy to have her friends Lucia and Nick to play with all day. Eric had invited the family for the weekend, and Helen is a birder and was thrilled to be at Yanayacu. The scientists from Yale were birders as well and had a big scope and in between checking for birds in the nets, they were watching and looking for birds with their binoculars and then positioning the telescope for further viewing.

Reading in the Hammock

The rain never really stopped all day. Mist, torrential, downpour, drops, fog, clouds. This is the dry season in the cloud forest, but the rain happens all year.

Pass Before Descending to Quito

On our way home, we stopped at El Quinche again to walk into the church (we had missed entering the church after the procession because of the massive crowds on Saturday). We found ourselves at another mass, and were blessed again with holy water and rose petals. We walked to the altar, which is massive and covered with gold leaf, the statue of the virgin back in its place behind glass.

Mass Inside the Church

I had been told by Jose, a birder at Yanayacu, whose father came originally from El Quinche, that the usual food served at the celebration on November 21 was a soup served with an entire sheep's head. It is called 'mondongo de borrego' or 'cabeza de borrego'. I had seen only pig and sugar cane when we visited El Quinche Saturday, so I tried to find the typical soup (Jose described it as delicious, but I cannot imagine eating it) again but again saw exactly what I had seen before. We all tried some sugar cane taffy, which tasted like molasses taffy.

It appears that after the celebration of the Virgin on Saturday, the city of El Quinche invited everyone for a carnival, and while the faithful stayed in the church, everyone else joined the party around the main square. In a way the contrast was stunning, but on the other hand, there was alot of joy and appreciation of living in both activities.

Altar With the Virgin

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