After a few weeks in Panama I feel like I have finally come into my own. I love it here. Its hard not too- with beautiful landscapes everywhere and friendly people- who wouldn’t like Panama? My research has really started to take off. I’ve been put in charge of the behavioral study and the cognitive study (which are my two favorites). The behavioral study basically entails me and another person pretending we’re Jane Goodall in the jungle for 3 hrs/day. We watch the Howler Monkeys and record every little moment down to scratching, tongue flicking and yes, urinating. The cognitive study is basically testing to see whether or not Howlers can distinguish an outlier bucket (which contains food naturally). Thus, testing there partital lobe or spacial reasoning. But researching can be stressful/tiring so luckily I’m allowed to take up to 30 days off while I’m here! Thus, the first place of travel was to a small island in the Pacific Ocean called Boca Brava.
One of my good friends so far is a hilarious Italian hippie named Giorgia. She has a nose piercing, plugs in her ears and tattoos all over and is a great travel companion!
So off to the island we went. We took a bus for about $3 to Boca Chica where we caught a water taxi for another $3 to Boca Brava island. It dropped us off at this random resort, so we decided to walk 20 min to a semi-private beach. We swam in the 80 degree water, found this starfish below, and fell asleep in my hammock.
After, we walked back to the resort for cocktails and a traditional Panamanian meal. The view was spectacular! As we sat and sipped our drinks we watched a few fishermen float past swarmed by birds. It was quite the sight.
Boca Brava was a perfect break from the hectic life at the research station. But little did we know, our trip was only beginning. Once back at the mainland Boca Chica, we realized that there were no more buses for the day. Well now what? Best to just pick up a few beers, relax in the shade and make a decision about our next move slowly. Whats the rush after all? We decided that instead of paying for a taxi, we would hitchhike back. I decided to get another beer. After a couple beers I was ready. Lets do this. I’m going to hitchhike in a 3rd world country where I don’t speak the language with a tattooed Italian girl. Bring it on!
We stood on the side of the road and stuck out a finger. Within a few moments a car pulled over. It was an American couple who couldn’t take us and warned us about traveling with the Panamanian workers. Naturally, the next truck that stopped was full of Panamanian workers so we jumped right in. And it was one of the best decisions of my life. I sipped another beer as we drove around corners that would have normally scared me in the States. We shared a bag of chips with the driver and exchanged understanding smiles.
I liked riding in the car with these guys. They were so respectful and genuine, nice people. We passed a few shacks along side the road. They were made from a few pieces of wood and straw- we stopped and half of the truck (3 people) got out. These were their homes.
The rest of the workers dropped us off at the driveway to the Sanctuary, however, we knew it would be another 1 hr hike until we would finally make it home. At least that’s what we thought was going to happen. Luckily another worker truck came by that was going up the same driveway to the indigenous village above the Sanctuary. It was a black Toyota pickup and there were a lot fo us that needed rides. In fact, we fit 20 people in the back of that pick-up that day. 20 PEOPLE. The females were all dressed in traditional long colorful dresses and the men all wore shinny shoes. This was a one in a lifetime experience. ~B