Saturday, October 6, 2007
We made it!
Finally, after only 4 hours of sleep and multiple cramped car rides, we finally have made it to the Smithsonian research lab in Bocas del Toro. And boy was it worth the trip. This country is gorgeous, complete with crystal waters, tropical rainforests, and damn good food. haha But before I tell you about the adventures we went on today, let me finish telling you about how we got here. So we made it to Atlanta around 1:30 and had a 4 hour layover. No worries. Most of the gang spent those hours eating or sleeping. We flew out of Atlanta around 6:30 and made it to Panama at 10 where we proceeded to Gamboa for the night. On the way there we stopped at a local gas station to pick up some munchies and rehydrate. The funny thing about this gas station is that in order to get OUT of the place you had to push this tiny button on the side of the door then push on the door normally. Well, 99% of our group couldn't figure this out. So multiple people, including myself, stood in front of this door pushing and pulling looking like complete idiots trying to get the door open. Well after a few minutes of humiliation before a kind Panamanians put us out of our misery and showed us how to use the button. haha Needless to say, it was pretty entertaining for the locals to watch. We spent out first night in an old school, which happened to be one of the first Panamanian elementary schools in the country, and was located right next to the Panama canal (which unfortunately we weren't able to see because of the hour of the day (but we will be back later in the week)) Our beds were in old classrooms still equipped with chalkboards and other classroom furnishings. We went to bed around 12 after celebrating Cc's 22nd birthday!! YEAH!
The next morning we headed out around 5 am to catch our flight to Bocas del Toro. First line of business: set up the research equipment, particularly the crab wheels that I mentioned earlier. All 24 were set up successfully and we proceeded to lunch...which was out of this world, as was the delightful breakfast we ate upon arriving. After lunch we set off to a local beach to try and collect the three types of crabs we will be using for the circadian rhythms experiment (using the crab wheels). The three types of crabs we will be using are ghost crabs, a local hermit crab, and a land crab (exact species names will be given later). Unfortunately, we were only able to find ghost crabs. But despite this, the group still managed to keep high spirits. Exuberant yelps of joy could be heard up and down the beach as we successfully dug up ghost crab after ghost crab....totally 10 in all. It was quite humerus to see the methods used to dig up the crabs, which often burrow feet into the sand. Students could be found using buckets, spatulas, spoons, and sticks to try and dig up the elusive little buggers. By the time we decided to call it quits, nearly everyone had succeeded in finding a crab.
Free time came after crab hunting and everyone seemed ready to take a dip in the crystal clear water. Many of us spent the next hour snorkeling around the boat docks looking at all the interesting marine life. Just a handful of the organisms that we found included barracudas, donkey dung sea cucumbers, arrow crabs, corkscrew anemones, cleaning shrimps, pen clams, sea squirts, blue tangs, French grunts, and the list could go on. Very cool stuff.
That pretty much sums up day 1...up until now, which is dinner time. Tonight we will be hunting for more crabs and hopefully getting a good nights sleep. =) BYE!