We can now say the campaign has officially started. A true Brazilian start that is, with several waves of installations, numerous delays and the occasional drama created by an inopportune rainstorm. For the last seven days practically all the instruments that are supposed to be measuring are running and getting data. For most of us it seems as if we’ve been living at the site for a long time, even though we have only been here for a little more than a week. Our food is quiet monotonous, but still very good: we have pasta with garlic, rice, black beans, and some salad every day for lunch and dinner, only the meat part of the meal changes, well change means either chicken or meat. Also we have tried to keep our beer supply as constant as possible, with the temperatures and humidity we have, drinking 3 beers a day is a low count, and even the non drinkers have acquired a drinking habit. I have to say, the beer keeps the conversations flowing, everyone happy and keeps us away from thinking about the snakes (not trivial, considering the venomous one that apparently lives under the dining hall. With the large, hairy tarantula-like spider.) The sleeping part has gone amazingly well, we don’t have a big snorer that keeps everyone awake all night, and the heat is not as bad as I thought it was going to be, we even occasionally have cool mornings. It is a testament to our ability to adapt that people who were only a couple of weeks ago in the midst of
Our every day life has also begun to take a regular schedule: early in the morning the cook wakes us up turning the Brazilian radio on around 6, and don’t think this is a request, it is his schedule, we have just “adapted” to it… we then have our regular toast with eggs, coffee – with that constant hope for that occasional treat of sweetened fried dough to dip in the coffee. After breakfast, almost everyone goes up to the container to check that instruments ran smoothly throughout the night, get the data out for the last day, and go back to the cabin to begin a preliminary analysis. We sit in front of the computer as if we were back in our regular office until lunch is ready, and after lunch we either go back to the computer or to fix whatever problem the instrument might have, of course if it was fixed in the morning, the computer takes over.
(Editor’s note: This ‘typical office morning’ only holds true for those lucky enough to have functioning instruments. The rest of us spend hours trying to troubleshoot broken valves, find leaks and cobble together inlets from string and leftover tubing…) However, we can all agree that the “day breakers” are definitely more interesting than at our regular office: a 3 meter snake deciding to rest in the middle of the road, monkeys screaming (and the resulting futile, but daily attempts to find them with binoculars or cameras), rain showers so strong that a small river is carved through the road, or the little puppy (full name: Pegaleve Pirahna Anklebiter) from the cabin biting our ankles to get some attention. And even more interesting are our conversations at night: it is not common to have people from China, Germany, Canada, Brazil, Austria, Mexico, Spain, Israel, Sweden, the US, England, and India sitting at the same table expressing their ideas. Particularly when there’s no internet or television to distract from conversation. I think we have successfully figured out how the settle all diplomacy issues in the Middle East – not to mention global climate change and
I believe most of us are very happy with our daily routines, and not having internet access has somehow made everyone more relaxed. The perfect example of the low-key attitude around here was two nights ago, when the lights went out in the lodge after dinner. Not a single person got flustered – there was a calm, slow move to acquire flashlights. The only concern was over the instruments, and an initial search party was sent up to the container. But all was well, and the power-sucking culprit in the lodge appears to have been the hot water heater in the shower. And, really, who needs a hot shower in the middle of the Amazonian jungle, anyways?
Michel and Delphine