Saturday, August 23, 2008

Mexico here I come!!

Not sure how I occasionally stumble into awesome things, but I did this week.  I was at a meeting and a friend of mine jokingly asked if I could fill in for Ana (a student at the Univ of Yucatan) at bird banding stations south of Cancun.  I was immediately like, um, yeah right! 
Then after some thinking and talking, I will be getting a basically free trip to Mexico to train a student from the Univ Yucatan and other field technicians in banding birds.  In return they will teach me a lot of Spanish.  The guy I need to train speaks no English, so it'll be pretty hard. 

Unfortunately, Ana the gal I'm filling in for, got pretty sick in May (when she was here in TN working and learning field techniques) and flew home for surgery and to be with family. Complications continue and she's not allowed to work.  Ana is a really sweet gal and she'll be ok.

Sadly I won't get to work the banding stations that are at the resorts in Cancun, where I'd get to stay in an apartment with internet and AC.  They catch very few birds at those sites and need me to train them where they catch a lot of birds.  So they'll pick me up from the airport and take me to the Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve south of Cancun.  There are 4 study sites in and around the reserve and they catch a lot of birds.  More than I'm used to handling in a day, even in my heyday!  The main goal is to teach them about our birds that are migrating through the Yucatan.  So the migrant birds in your yards right now may get caught by me in Sept in Mexico. I don't know what any of their Mexican birds are, but they know them.  Will interesting to catch some species I've never seen before!!

This is no fancy vacation.  It's going to be a lot of long days, hot and humid weather, trees that are more poisonous than poison ivy, vampire bats, more venomous snakes than here, and camping for essentially the entire time I'm there, but camping on the beach.  One of the "field stations," which I use loosely, has running water (for rinsing clothes).  I think one of the sites has some shelters for getting away from the rain, which falls daily.  I'll take bucket sponge baths daily to keep the funk to a minimum and swim in the ocean to try to keep from getting to infected with stuff.  Snorkeling is going to happen since the reserve is adjacent to the second or third largest barrier reef in the Caribbean or world, can't remember.  It stretches into Belize.

In the end, it'll be 5 days of banding birds in a row with 2 days "off" to go to a town and get food and water for the week, hopefully clean some clothes, and do some birding, sleeping, and site seeing.  I've met a couple of the folks down there already as this project is coordinated through the Univ of Tennessee and my agency contributes $$ to it annually.  They promised me they'd put English speaking techs on my team, otherwise it'll be a LONG trip.

Final details are being worked out, but I will fly out on Monday, Sept 8 and spend at least 2 weeks there.  I'd like to do a third week since I have the chance and Bec's approval as this is a chance I'll never get again.  Although after 2 weeks of camping in hot conditions, no real shower, squatting in the woods, and probably getting the Chachen (spelling?, but it is the poisonous tree) all over me, I may really want to leave.  The sites they work are just off the beach and in protected forests, so I'll be on the beach daily and falling asleep to the ocean.  I've seen pictures and the sites are incredible.  Just a chance I can't pass up.  It'll be an eye opener and life changer probably, assuming I don't get malaria.  Yes, I'm getting a billion shots and pills on Monday.  Hope for no hurricanes or I may be swimming back to the states!

Best part is my boss said if I had a chance to go to the Yucatan for this project (or any reason) to go.  hence he is rescheduling a meeting or 2 for me so I can attend them later!  To boot, all I will have to pay for is food while there.  I have comp time built up from all my travel this spring, so I won't have to use my annual leave.  Sweet!

I may need to take Bec to either Alaska or the French Riviera to make up for this:)

1 comment:

Kelly said...

I'm sure you know this, but it just can't be said enough: Do not drink the water!