Life as a falconer, insect systematist, and double Masters Student (or a look into the mind of someone who is questionably sane).

07 January 2007

Guatemala Day 5

The alarm went off at 2 and I promptly went back to sleep. I woke up around 630 and AMC looked over and asked what time it was. I told her and said the alarm would go off at 730, she said she needed to get up a bit earlier so I pushed it forward a few min and went back to sleep. We woke back up an hour later and got ready. Then we grabbed stuff for 2 malaise traps and headed off towards the top light sheet on the hill. I wanted to put one kinda near that in hopes of drawing in more bugs at they were heading towards the light. We decided to try the worrlpack idea but when we got up there AMC realized that the 1st trap didn’t have a bottle so we couldn’t use that to support the bag. I had a rubber band in my pocket so we used that to tie up the pack. I knew there was some reason to leave it in my pocket last night. We got the trap up without any issues and were on the move again in about 10 min. AMC wanted to head down the trail past the other light sheet so we took of in that direction. I found a small clearing and started working on it to see if it would work for a malaise trap while AMC headed up the trail to see if anything jumped out that required less habitat modification. She came back just as I was sawing down a tree with my knife are reported that there was a possible spot further up just as the trail started descending again. So we headed up to it and after a bit of moving stuff around we got the trap up. When we went to put the worrl pack on I realized that it wasn’t wide enough to go around the bottle so we could screw the bottle back onto the head. Since we didn’t have another rubber band we just decided to set it up the traditional way. We finished up shortly after 830 and we headed over to the main building to see what the plan was. Dave said wed be leaving around 9 so AMC sat down with Jose and Dave who were finishing up breakfast. I went up to the room to get some stuff ready and discovered one of my leps from the nite before wasn’t dead. I asked jose if I could use his syringe and he said go for it so I grabbed it and killed my lep. By now JRJ was almost ready to go so we loaded up and headed down the road to our 1st site. It was a short drive of about 30 min. We passed tons of people walking along the road apparently going to church. One girl was dressed in her 1st communion dress. All the people were pretty nicely dressed- men in starched jeans and button down shirts with clean cowboy hats and the women in nice pants or dresses.

Our 1st site was a small river flowing under the highway. There were quite a few leafhoppers here including quite a few id never collected. Our next site was similar as was the 3rd site. One thing that was really cool was that at the 2nd site there was a huge swarming group of Cicadellinae. The red and white ones- they were everywhere. I collected a huge series of them including some probable nymphs of the species and also the food plant they were feeding on. Maybe it could make a small paper. We then headed down the road a piece and passed through some small towns. We stopped in one and got some pepsi for dave and jose bought us all lime chips. I also got a coke. The chips were pretty tasty. Just the right amount of tangy lime and salt. We kept going and stopped in at a river under the highway. This site was pretty trashy looking but I got quite a number of bugs including some Tingids. I was all proud of my 2 tingids until AMC reached up while we were driving down the road and grabbed one off the ceiling in the truck. O well. It was nice while it lasted. We got to a larger city and I remined Jose we needed a fish for the malaise trap. He drove though the town looking for the open market then asked for a booth selling fish. He got some directions but we couldn’t find it. Saw a place selling raw chicken and live bunnies. Jose said we could always get a bunny. Dave said predead was better, but AMC and I are like live bunnies are fine. Jose found a parking spot and said hed be back with a fish in a min. Sure enough he showed back up with a small fish in a bag. We took off again down a dirt road that headed back to the reserve. Apparently it was the original highway. Jose wasn’t totally sure which fork to take so we stopped and asked some girls who didn’t know so he asked a guy on a horse with a dog. We got some directions after explaining what finca it was by since he didn’t know road names. We headed back down the road into some very different habitat. This area is in the rain shadow from the mountains the reserve is in. It was very dry with cactus, suclients, and small bushes. The whole area was also very flat. We came upto some cropland and Jose pointed out a tree that was part white and part brown. He said he thought some sort of homoptera did it but he wasn’t sure which. He said we could check it out if anyone was interested, so he stopped and got permission to check it out. We walked out there across this huge bone dry field that looked like it had been used to grow corn but had been plowed up. We got to this huge tree (related to an acacia) and jose jumped up and grabbed a branch. Sure enough it was wax that covered the branches. We couldn’t find any evidence of what type of bug it was though until Jose spotted a Flatid wing in a crevase in the bark. He proceded to tear out some chunks uncovering quite a few flatid wings. They were huge- 2 in long or so and white with dark spots. We poked around for a few more min before deciding there were no whole bugs. We all walked back to the truck and drove a bit further until we got to a small stream. There were some kids playing in it and dave gave them a bag of m&ms. We swept the area pretty good and I got some additional leafhoppers. This trip has been very productive for me as far as hoppers go. We drove down the road and started gaining altitude. We passed some long dead cows and some really cool scenery. Our last stop was a small stream up in the mountains. It was in a very dry area and there were some really cool bugs including some lavender cicadellids. On the way back to the reserve we passed through the oak forest were we will go tomorrow and an abandoned farm. Apaprently the farm managers had been aiding the army and some guerrillas came in and killed them then burnt the buildings during the revolution. The revolution sounds pretty terrible- the army rounded up a bunch of men in one of the towns near hear put them all in the churches then burnt them down. Back at the truck AMC and I collected some rocks for our geology buddies. On the way back to to reserve joses said dinner was chicken or steak if we wanted it. He was eating that and having a beer. This set off a drinking discussion and he asked dave if he drank. Apparently he only has a beer or 2 a year- basicly after getting a tattoo. That’s a little back wards. The he asked jrj who also said he didn’t drink. Jose must think tx people are strange- the women drink, are on time, and ride in the bed of the truck while the men are pretty much worthless. We got back to the reserve and Dave and JRJ promptly discover they locked the room key in the room. Shocking. We got back to our room and unloaded. Dave came by to say he was eating dinner at the main house so me and AMC went over there after checking the light. We went in and the woman said something in Spanish. We caught sit down and that was it. So we went outside and sat. after a while AMC went back to the room for a bit while I waited to see how this was going to work. Jose came down after a bit looked at me and said is there a communication issue? Im like yeah pretty much. Hes like what do you want? I said both me and AMC want steak and the best I could come up with was carne de vaca. He said that would have worked or just carne was fine too. And I got beef right even though AMC though I was making it up. Guess I do remember something from Spanish class. So he ordered it up then some random dude showed up ands like can you understand it? Im like not really but jose can translate if you need it. So jose ordered the random guy (who was from germany) dinner too. We stood around in the shop then Jose got him and me beers. The german guy didn’t want one. AMC showed back up and I told her id been right about how to say beef. I still don’t think she belives me. O well. Dinner was ready pretty quickly and she went off to get dave. I went inside and grabbed her an orange coke. The little girls like narania I said si then she said orange and I said si again. Then the woman appeared and im like por my hermana and she said si. I went out and put the coke at AMCs spot then when she appeared told her about the exchange. She was like hermana means sister. Id forgotten that but o well it convayed the meaning of this if for the other girl. That’s all that matters. We all ate- it was quite good. Steak, beans, rice, plantain, and some cheese. We ate with the german dude who was pretty fascinated with the whole insect collecting thing. I never though so many people would find it so interesting- comparing us to national geographic and all. After we were done eating we called JRJ to eat the scraps which he did. Daves like you feel like the family pet and he said yeah so im like at least we don’t make you do tricks for it and everyone but him got a good laugh. Hes going to try fogging again. Well see how that goes- its become the running joke of the trip really. After dinner we went over to the sheets with the german and he took some pictures. On the way over jose took the bag o fish and tied it to some kite string then threw it over a tree limb in hopes that the ringtailed cats etc would leave it alone. He asked for a knife and both me and jrj said we had one. We both grabbed for them (I went for the assist opening one). Unsuprisingly I won- I had mine open and in joses hand before jrj had even gotten his out of his pocket. I love the way it springs open when flicked. Jrj made some comment about how I carry around 3 and so it shouldn't be suprising and im like I have 4 don’t short change me a knife. He didn’t seem to understand the beauty of the knife and made some comment about people from texas. Whatever. I went up to grab the head lamps then back downstairs. My hopper catchers starting to break along the joint and I asked jose if he had any epoxy. He didn’t have any of that but he did have some strong electrical tape so we fixed it right up with that. Then the 3 of us went to check the malaise traps. Neither of them had very much but there was some stuff. We checked the other light and he gave me a Chrisina he caught and I also got a click beetle. It was raining a bit by now and then the fog rolled in. It was amazing how fast it came up. Jose went to bed and AMC and I went and checked the other sheet. I killed a couple of leps using the ammonia syringe then we called it a night also. I worked on my notes then typed this up while listening to music- it's become my tradition to listen to Bowling for Soups "Come Back to Texas" each night as I'm getting ready for bed. I love it down here, but nothing beats home. At 1120 AMC woke up and said she was having a bad dream where shes collecting on a cliff and got the label data wrong. Then she caught a silver beetle and though it was the coolest thing before waking up and realizing she was dreaming. I too dream of collecting while im collecting but mine have more to deal with bugs I really want (that actually exist) or ones ive already caught. Most of this trip its been dreams of catching leafhoppers in huge malaise traps that run for miles. Wish we actually had traps like that. Cammacks been in all my dreams usually as the other person on the trip. I keep wishing we could swap him out for JRJ. Life would be so much more fun. Jose made a comment about the 3 of us terrestrial people being collecting buddies and im like no our real 3rd member is back in tx then told him about the musketeers and the ets. The musketeers are the 1st time ive truly been part of a group where we all talk and hang out all the time. Now the 1st of the musketeers is in the real world and while the other 2 of us wont be joining if for a long time (really if ever) our time in the same school is rapidly ending. I really hope jac, me and tff (as AMC is known to JAC) take a trip down to this area. Itd be so much fun.

No comments: