How Far We've Come

You have no idea when or where you might see an animal. Sometimes this feels disappointing, but it's also exciting. I'm surprised with what the forest can show me every day, because everything I see is unexpected. I wouldn't have been able to see everything I've seen without spending all of the time that I have in the field.

I remember my first days here, and how apprehensive I was about every bug I saw, how tired every day in the field left me, how nervous I was to talk to any of the other scientists. Now many of the features of the unique culture of Barro Colorado Island seem normal to me.

I still don't love the bugs, but I appreciate their diversity. Last night, one of the researchers who studies insects, called an entomologist, hosted a blacklight party, where we attracted insects to land on a sheet using a blacklight. We got a close-up look at some moths and cicadas that usually spend their time in the trees, far from where we can see them. 

I still get tired in the field, especially when we have early morning runs after staying up late to find coatis (members of the raccoon family). But I notice that I can climb the hills just a little bit faster and with a little bit less sweating after doing so almost every day since the beginning of January. 

Even more, after eating breakfast, lunch and dinner with the same people on a daily basis, I feel much more like a part of the community. For instance, I recall my first meal here, where I sat off in the corner because I didn't know that everyone typically sat together. Now I look forward to mealtimes and being surrounded by familiar faces, sharing highlights of our day.