Wow, the past 4 wks since my last blog has really flown by. I can officially say I have definitely got the ‘Entomolo-gist of it’ all! Haha, I couldn’t resist that pun hehe. I have now been an intern for 6 wks so I’m well over the half way mark before I leave for my next adventure in Peru.
My confidence has increased and I’ve adapted my own style for my bug tours. Life here has formed a nice lil routine and everyone knows what they’re doing. But the best bit for me, is the fact that I feel like an actual entomologist/scientist of some kind! People comment at how much I know or even ask me things like “So what course are you studying at University?” or “How long have you been a Biologist?” How cool! I love that. I even get people showing me pics of bugs on their phones asking me “Hey, do you know what this is?” 😀
I am really enjoying teaching people what I have learnt about these bugs and I’ve been getting such a buzz feeling people have left (hopefully) with some new found knowledge and hopefully less of a fear for critters in general. One bunch of girls even asked for a selfie with the ‘bug girl’ which I thought was totally amazing aww haha!
But all of that aside, it’s not been easy. Just like everything in life, there is always something or someone that can be hard to deal with just to test us! Let’s just say, the people who own the place aren’t the easiest to deal with so I and a few of the others here have and are finding it hard to keep going at times. One volunteer started and only lasted the 4 wks (instead of the full 10) and actually quit this morning in a bit of a shock exit. That means, we’ll all have more work and more tours between us until we have a new intern start.
But there is always a positive from a negative right…And that is, that I’ve made a wonderful best friend here at the bugs camp – Anna. Anna is the Canadian/Russian girl who I mentioned in my last blog. We’ve been getting along great. We love playing cards and sinking a Pilsen beer or 2 at the end of a long day.
Anna and I share a similar humour and have been having such a laugh during our day to day intern life e.g. pretending we are recording and narrating our own David Attenborough documentaries or even that we’re presenting our own version of Gardener’s World (for when we are helping with the weeding which by the way, we call the ‘Garden of Weedon’) hahah. Anna’s super funny and smart and I get a good feeling her future will all work out just the way she wants it.
Anna and I swopped one of our days off with another intern so we could take a day trip out together. We got up super early one Tuesday morning and caught the local bus out to the Monteverde Cloud Forest. Hell, we were so early that we were arriving with the workers of the reserve haha! It was absolutely bucking it down too but that didn’t matter to us cos it was just fun to be out and about exploring.
We booked ourselves onto the first tour of the morning which was fab. It was a 2.5 hr tour with an experienced guide so he was able to point out various birds and hummingbirds, trees, plants and fungus. Oh and there was a fungus that Anna had always wanted to see and I was so chuffed for her when the guide pointed it out. But this was no ordinary fungus, it’s like a mind controlling fungus called Cordyceps. Basically…it will find itself a host such as an ant or wasp – (any live insect that it can get a hold of really) and it basically attacks the brain of the insect and pretty much turns it into a zombie…so freakishly cool hey! The fungus alters the behaviour of the bug by forcing it to climb up to the highest point (something like a long stem). The bug will die but the fungus will be able to flourish. This fungus will eventually grow upwards and out of the insects head so you can literally see it like a small mushroom cloud! It’s so freaky but so cool at the same time. Ants will even be able to sense if there is another fellow ant that has been infected with this fungus so they will push their infected mate(s) out of the colony and then commit suicide so they don’t run the risk of being infected themselves! Oh how clever nature is, it blows my mind all the time!
Oh and we also saw a side striped pit viper at the reserve too! It was just coiled up in a tree! The snake looked pretty small but one bite from that and you’re basically up shit creek so we admired it from quite a distance hah! I was so happy to have seen it though as I really wanted to see a snake..
It was a long 3 hr drive to reach La Fortuna but oh my was it beautiful! We were just surrounded by lush green hills and fields and a real pretty lake (Lake Arenal). There were also lots of signs for hot springs and ‘come see the volcano’ which I would love to have done of course hah!
Pulling up at the hotel, we could see the volcano standing in all it’s glory…that is until the cloud came along and rudely covered it up hah! But it really reminded me of Bali’s volcano, Mount Batur and took me back to the day when I’d hiked up it Hmmm….my feet began to itch. I really wanted to stay behind and spend more time there and explore.
The presentation went really well and everyone enjoyed it and they freaked watching the boss do her usual trick of putting a Giant Peppered Cockroach in her mouth! We just like proving that cockroaches are actually the cleanest critters haha. So anyways, you can imagine the shrills from people around the room, it’s so funny!
The cloud seemed to follow us back on the way home and when the light faded, the cloud resembled a thick eerie fog like something out of a Stephen King’s horror movie…then suddenly…
“STOP!” The bosses shriek snapped me out of my cosy day dream making me sit bolt upright. “What is it?” I asked. “There’s a snake in the road”. WOW, I couldn’t wait to get out the car to see it. “It’s a highly venomous snake so we must keep our distance”. So we jumped out the jeep and watched it slither slowly across the road to the other side. It wasn’t a very big one and it certainly wasn’t afraid of us. “So what would happen if that bit me right now?” I inappropriately joked…”We’d be rushing you to the nearest hospital!” Ahh ok…I slowly took a few extra steps back ensuring I was well out of it’s striking distance. And for those of you asking….I believe the snake was a young Fer-de-Lance, gulp! Their venom contains hemotoxin which affects your nervous and circulatory system, strewth. Basically, if you don’t seek medical attention fast, you die!
I am so happy to have seen all that I have seen so far but I must admit, the itchy feet and sense of adventure is still beckoning me just like the scent trail from a juicy pie in cartoons…seducing me to follow and wander off again. I have 4 wks left of my internship so we will see what happens and what temptation has in mind for me. I will of course keep you all posted of my adventures 😉
But for now, I will carry on being the student Entomologist that I am and savour all the best bits for my old age memory pot to look back on and smile 😀