News and updates from our outreach events as well as journal entries from Katie's fieldwork seasons.


Updates - Round 2 Week 9

We finished our second rotation with Balam this week! The group kept moving from tree to tree all week, but on the last day they stayed in areas that were more easily visible. Only one more week left with Motiepa! In the next two days we will send our first shipment of samples to the U.S. as well.

In other news, my rubber boots now have holes in them. I guess they weren't made for walking over Mayan ruins everyday all day for a whole year. My next big field decision is whether to try to tape them or patch them or buy new ones.

No pictures from this week, but since I had to post two weeks at once (no internet on the permit trip last weekend), the pictures from Week 8 will hopefully help ameliorate the situation.


Updates - Round 2 Week 8

The weeks are starting to fly by. It's interesting because the days seem long in the field. (My focal observations require me to be looking at my watch every two minutes for the entire eleven hours I am in the field everyday.) However, because we really don't have time for anything else during the day, before I know it a whole week has passed.

The weather took another turn this week, unfortunately. After starting with a few beautiful days, we had an entire day of rain followed by a less-cloudy but equally-rainy day. It has been keeping the weather cooler, but it starts to wear on your mood...especially when the monkeys seek shelter as well and make data collection difficult.

On a more positive note, the female infant in the group we were following has grown significantly over the past month. It leaves its mother sometimes to go investigate other members of the group, and this week I saw it putting leaves in its mouth. No ingestion yet, but it's at least interested in "adult food."



Brianna and I also made a trip to San Cristobal de las Casas y Tuxtla Gutierrez over the weekend to get export permits for the samples I need to send. We stayed with a fellow primatologist friend and even got to see "snow." It hailed and the pieces of hail accumulated like snow. We built a small snowman with it. Aside from the snow, we also enjoyed some coconut candy, and got our permits without a problem. Although the bus ride is 6 hours on bad roads with lots of curves, the whole process is fairly easy. I only wish it was a shorter trip.



Updates - Round 2 Week 7

Time is starting to pass quickly as we get closer to the end of this sampling block. Although this was a short week, it was busy. My birthday incited some social events that took extra time as well. Of course, birthdays are always fun. The highlight was coming back from a run and realizing that Brianna had decorate our entire cabana in balloons.

In the forest this week, there was quite a bit of howling. I'm not sure what provoked it, but it seemed like all of the howler groups in the area we work in were encountering each other. We had a loud few days.

It also seems to be agouti mating season or something similar. On our way into the field on Saturday, we stumbled across at least six agoutis running around making grunting and screaming noises. One almost even ran into Brianna before it noticed her...only to jump out of the way in my direction, which lead to another last-minute leap. It was hilarious. Unfortunately, agoutis are too quick for pictures.


Updates - Round 2 Week 6

This week went by quickly, and we were able to collect great data. It also seemed to be "animal encounter week." We saw an inguana, an agouti, a kinkajou, a boa, and an owl while following the monkeys. I almost stepped on the boa, which scared me because my first thought was that it was a fer-de-lance (or nauyaca, as they call it in Mexico). It was stretched out alongside the path, and I stumbled upon it just as we were leaving the forest for the day. My reaction was not graceful, but it got me out of the way quickly enough.

As for other animal encounters, we found an interesting insect on Brianna's shirt. I've included a picture below. The monkeys also decided to come down from the canopy on some lianas for a visit. They were actually traveling along the lianas to a different tree, but the close-up view was amazing. They do not come down low very often, but whenever they do, it gives me a greater appreciation for them. It makes the work seem more personal.

We took a long weekend to rest (and even out our data for the two focal groups). However, instead of lounging around in Palenque, we took a quick trip with some friends to Campeche and Merida. I had never been into the Yucatan Peninsula, so even though it was only a two-day adventure, I enjoyed it. We got to see the ocean, and we even tried some local specialties like cochinita pibil (a marinated pork dish), sopa de limon (lime soup), and agua de chaya (spinach water). I also got some great seafood. Aside from the food, the cities were both very pretty. The houses are painted in bright colors, and in Campeche, old forts are dotted throughout the city.

Field work starts up again tomorrow!


Updates - Round 2 Week 5

This week was much better than last week. The weather cleared up, and we have beautiful blue skies. The group this week hid in difficult trees a little bit, but for the most part they were clearly visible, and we were able to collect good data. The warmer weather is also making the monkeys come down a little lower in the canopy for shelter from the sun. Nothing too extreme yet, but it's much better than it has been. Hopefully things will continue this way until the end!

No pictures this week. I've been delinquent. I will be better next week!

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