Archive for the ‘Mexico 2008’ Category

Picture as promised.

Here I am jumping off the rock!  (I’m tanner than it looks in the picture I promise.)


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Picture: Puppy number two for the semester.

Last night was the beginning of Passover (which most of you probably knew) and we had Seder at dinner. It was great. Rebekka, one of our professors is Jewish, as well as another student, and I count for half right? So between the two-and-a-half of us, and Brady who’s not Jewish at all but went to Brandeis for her undergrad, we cooked up an amazing meal. We didn’t really have a traditional meal exactly, but we made about two gallons of charoset… mmmm. The rest of the menu was Middle Eastern since we could manage that. We had falafel, hummus, Arab salad, carrot salad, deviled eggs, homemade cinnamon applesauce, homemade coconut macaroons, and matzoh of course. I was in charge of the deviled eggs, sixty eggs to be exact, and they came out pretty good too. It was probably the best meal I’ve had all semester, and a lot of fun to cook too.

The puppy we found yesterday morning in a muddy box right at the edge of the water during our beach clean-up. She’s adorable, and only about a month old. We gave her a bath and some food and water and are hoping to find her a home. The vet says she’s perfectly healthy, just needs her shots and a flea bath and she’s good to go home. I realized I forgot to write about our first puppy, temporarily named Bo-Fugly. He’s been at the vet’s for about a week because he had such bad skin problems and was really malnourished. The Center, mostly thanks to Rebekka, has a history of rescuing abandoned puppies here. This new puppy will be number eight to go home to a family in the US. The people in town aren’t really sympathetic to “street-dogs” as they’re called and they lead pretty miserable lives. As you can see, this new puppy (no name yet) may be a street-dog but she’s going to be beautiful when she grows up. I wish I could bring her home, but I know I can’t have a dog at school and shouldn’t.

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Best Trip Yet.

This camping trip was easily the best of the semester. We left campus in the early morning fog Tuesday at 8am heading for Cabo San Lucas (seven hours away) as our first stop. We ate our packed lunches in the car and got to Cabo in time for some shopping and dinner. Sarah B. and I decided we’d had enough of the fighting and passive-aggressive girl drama that’s been increasing daily within the group and went off on our own. We shopped for a while, took some pictures for our environmental economics class research papers, and headed to Johnny Rocket’s for dinner. We each ate a plate of cheese fries and a chocolate malt for a grand total of $10 each. Everything’s expensive in Cabo and that meal was well worth it. After dinner we all met up again and headed to our campsite near the Cabo Pulmo National Marine Park where we set our tents in the dark and went to sleep early.

The next morning we awoke to find ourselves on the banks of the Gulf of California on a beautiful little inlet. After breakfast we packed lunch again and headed to the Sierra de la Laguna Biosphere Reserve for a lecture and swimming. We were at a freshwater creek that pools into a convenient swimming hole, and also serves as drinking water for nearby towns. After the hike down, while I was trying to get to a spot in the shade, I lost my balance on the rocks and fell into some more rocks and a conveniently placed bush of prickly grass. It hurt a lot, and scraped up my leg and bruised my knee pretty bad… but now it feels much better. Because of the biosphere reserve/drinking water issue, no sunscreen was allowed and we all got pretty good sunburns despite our efforts to cover up when we weren’t in the water. Being able to swim in freshwater was great though! There was a small waterfall and a couple large rocks that were over water deep enough to jump into. The bigger rock was about 15’ up, about the height of a 3m high dive. Of course, I’m thinking “no problem, I’ve done high dives before…” but it’s a lot scarier when you’re standing on a rock over water that you’re not really sure how deep it is. Turns out it was maybe 12’ deep with a soft sandy bottom, and jumping was a lot of fun! I think somebody took a picture of me jumping so I’ll try to get it and post it later. After returning to the campsite for dinner we had another class and then played cards and charades until bed.

Thursday morning we headed to the core area of the marine park for what was supposed to be a biodiversity survey of the coral reef. Cabo Pulmo has the northernmost hard coral reef on the Pacific coast of the Americas, as well as the only hard coral reef in the Gulf of California. Last week the dive shop saw a few whale sharks in the area so we all hopped into the boats with high hopes. Unfortunately the weather does not always cooperate, and no sooner had we entered the water and started swimming did we have to clamber back onto the pangas because we had drifted so far off the reef. The pangas circled back, Gustavo yelled “Vamonos!” and in we jumped again. This time we had a little more success, we saw the reef at least, but we had to kick so hard against the current that the field exercise was soon called off. Fortunately for us we later learned that this means we don’t have to write the usual paper on the diversity inside and outside the park (since we didn’t even attempt to snorkel outside). Finally we headed back, had lunch, some more classes, and ate dinner. During the afternoon (and again this morning) some manta rays put on a great show for us jumping out of the water over and over to knock of parasites. It was really cool to watch. After dinner, the wind that had made snorkeling so hard finally died down enough for some of us to throw a frisbee around on the beach until it got dark. Boy do I miss St. Mary’s sometimes. After dark we sat around the campfire and made s’mores, then headed to bed. We slept the last night with the rain fly off our tent, since Cabo Pulmo didn’t have the morning dew we always have here in PSC, and were able to see the moon and stars through the mesh ceiling.

This morning we packed up and left right after breakfast and went to La Paz. We did some shopping and ate lunch, also stocked up on snacks for the remaining four hour drive. Who knew you could have a good Italian sub in La Paz? Well apparently Cassie did. They were pretty good. So here I am, glad to be home in my cabana, desperately needing a shower, and completely exhausted. : )

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Another week…

Picture: Morning fog at Banderitas

Another long and busy week… another walk through the dump for dead turtles, another seven hours watching osprey on the side of the highway, another overnight turtling, and lots of running around for lectures and field exercises. Turtle monitoring was in Estero Banderitas again this week, but we only caught one turtle the whole night. My shift caught a big bat ray though so that was cool. When we woke up it was really foggy (see pic) and we had to wait around for about an hour before the pangueros said it was safe to head back to school. We’re leaving this Tuesday for four days camping near Cabo Pulmo (on the Gulf of California side, a little north of San Jose del Cabo). The semester’s really starting to speed up, I can’t believe it’s almost over.

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Picture: The desert out my car window.

We left on Tuesday right after breakfast for Loreto and camping at El Requesón. It’s about a two-hour drive to Loreto through the usual desert, but on the other side, heading up the Gulf of California to El Requesón, another hour-and-a-half, is beautiful! We spent a few hours in Loreto to have lunch and check out the town (and shop). I had huevos rancheros again, and this time remembered to ask for them “bien cocidos” which I guess is like saying “well-done?” After that we headed to El Requesón for two nights of camping on the beach and class in between. On the way back we stopped in Loreto again for a tour of a supposedly “eco” tourist resort/community called Loreto Bay Company and lunch again before heading home to Puerto San Carlos. Loreto seems pretty nice, it’s a small quiet town. Not as blatantly American as Cabo San Lucas, but clearly used to tourists. I bought a woven “Mayan” style hammock! Can’t wait to hang it up at home.

On Friday we went over to Isla Magdalena again for a hike to the rocky shores on the Pacific side of the island. We were told that it was short hike through the valley, some people like to have sneakers but Chacos/Tevas were fine. By short, they meant long. And by through the valley, they actually meant up and down rocky hills and across cliffs and ridges. And I wished I had worn sneakers. But it was fun, and as usual an adventure. We’ve all gotten pretty used to not knowing what’s going on, and our schedule changing several times a day. Once we came over the last hill and saw the Pacific on the other side, it was all worth it. It was so pretty. Most of us didn’t have our cameras out though because rock climbing with a camera is hard and generally a bad idea. But I promise you, it was beautiful.

Also, today was Mexican daylight savings so I’m back to a two-hour difference from you east-coasters.

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End of month two.

I can’t believe March is over…  mid-semester crunch has officially hit and a lot of us are feeling the stress.  We got our midterms back this week and I think I got one of the highest grades in the class on Coastal Ecology!  Unfortunately I also think I got one of the lowest in the class for Principles of Resource Management.  (A brief rant about PRM: I hate it and I don’t think we’ve learned a damn thing worthwhile.  Sorry I promised myself I wouldn’t swear in this blog but there’s just no other word to complete that sentence properly.  I’m not the only one though, most people agree with me, and the highest grade on the midterm was an 84% out of thirty students.  Most people got Cs and Ds.)

Anyways, I’ve been sick most of this week with some sort of cold/flu-bug but I think it’s finally leaving.  At least I can walk around without feeling nauseous so that’s a start.  Being sick here is not fun.  You can’t just skip class when your entire school has the same classes and your professors live next door to you…  Thankfully they’re all really understanding and I was able to skip most things that involved hiking or snorkeling.  We leave Tuesday for our trip to Loreto, turns out its only two nights so I’ll write about it at the end of the week.

If you’re in Montgomery County and reading this, go say hi to Honey for me ok?  I keep having dreams about horseback riding.

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Picture:  on our horses at the beach (you can see land’s end in the background)

We got back from spring break Sunday night, and I finally have enough free time to write something.  Cabo San Lucas is crazy (they don’t call it San Locos for nothing).  I was so surprised to so many people younger than me!  It was fun, but it is definitely a college party town.   They really cater to tourists and it took me completely by surprise when I’d ask how much something was (asking IN SPANISH) and they’d answer me in English and give the price in dollars.  Elyse even had someone give her change in dollars.  It’s to their advantage of course because the exchange rate is about 11 pesos to the dollar, so by charging you $10 for something that they sell for 100 pesos, they’re actually getting 110 pesos from you.

Honestly the best part, besides the beach of course, was the food!  On the first night, we went out to Johnny Rockets and I had a chicken club sandwich, cheese fries and a chocolate shake.  French fries have never tasted so good.  Another night we went to an Italian place and had real brick-oven pizza.  Other than that we had Mexican food, and I finally got some real huevos rancheros.  They were so good I even ate the runny parts (and if you’ve ever eaten eggs with me you know that’s really an accomplishment for me).

We went to the beach most days, and the water was great.  On Friday we tried to go out snorkeling, but apparently we were there at peak spring-break season and snorkeling was banned for the week by the coast guard because there were too many boating accidents last year.  We ended up taking a ride on a glass-bottom boat to go see the rocks and “lands end,” the southernmost point on the peninsula.  Saturday we went for a trail ride in the desert so I finally got my horse-fix for the semester.  My horse was named Pollo Loco (that’s “Crazy Chicken” for you English-speakers) and he was great!  At one point the guide turns to me and says, in Spanish, “if you want to gallop, go ahead, just wait for us at the top of that hill.”  So I did, and it was a blast.

So it’s back to work here at school…  we’re going out camping to catch turtles again on Friday, then on Tuesday we leave for a four day trip to Loreto a couple hours north of here.  Thank you to everyone who’s been reading and leaving comments!  I miss you all!

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