How Far We've Come

Barro Colorado Island, Panama
9.152101700000, -79.846480400000
Journal Entry:

A group of tourists slowly climb a steep trail in the forest. Alexis and I follow closely behind, ready to go out on one of our morning runs for monkeys. Many of the visitors are huffing and puffing as they make their way uphill. I remember how I felt just as out-of-breath the first time I took this trail. Nearly two months later, it still makes me tired, but at least I know that we're more than halfway to where the path flattens out. These tourists don't have any idea when the hard part ends, as today is probably their first time on the island. 

I wonder what they will see. The forest is home to some amazing animals, but they can be hard to spot. It took me a week to see howler monkeys, a month to see an ocelot (a wild cat) and I just saw my first tamandua (anteater) last night. Animals hide from people because they're shy around loud noises and big groups. It took many hours of being in the forest, along with being quiet, to see what I've seen. Most days, I'm lucky to see a mammal or two. Will this big tour group be happy with catching only a glimpse of a monkey, far away in a tree? 

Being in the field is very different from going to a zoo. It's hard to get a close look at an animal without binoculars, and if it runs off you're unlikely to see it again.