Number one, I keep thinking about, but forgetting to explain the meaning behind this blog's URL: jungle funk. This term was first introduced to me by my professor Chris Schmitt at the La Suerte field school in Costa Rica. He used it to describe the lovely aroma that all of your clothing (and probably you yourself) will acquire after a few weeks in the field. At La Suerte, we came to understand the meaning of this term very quickly. When after two days I decided "oh its time to wash some of my clothes!" I was clearly an amateur. As it turns out, when you have to wash your clothes by hand, wring all the water you possibly can out of them, and then hang them to dry in an environment whose humidity is pretty much maxed out, your clothes aren't going to dry. So after waiting 3-4 days for my clothes to finally dry, I realized they smelled worse than they had before I'd washed them. Hello jungle funk! In my mere four weeks in Costa Rica, jungle funk came to encompass everything that was gross and uncomfortable that we were experiencing due to the nastiness of our climate; stinky clothes, a mysterious rash covering 1/3 of my body, "swamp ass" (visible-through-your-pants butt sweat), mud and mosquitoes everywhere, a damp pillow from my sweat. So I figured ok, this is what its like doing field work in tropical places. So I showed up in Thailand VERY prepared. I came with all sorts of waterproof stuff, thin clothes that would dry fast, fungal creams, anti-itch steroid creams, powder and vaseline to prevent chafing, etc. Well, to be honest I've barely used this stuff here. Khao Yai is a very cushy field site I have to say. So, when the PI of the project arrived and was surprised at my adaptability and patience at our slightly inconvenient living situation, what he didn't know was that as long as I have dry, clean smelling clothes and no rashes to speak of, I am content.
The aforementioned "swamp ass" of La Suerte
However, in the face off between Khao Yai and La Suerte there are a few preferable aspects to the latter. One: our cook Rosie, the food may have seemed a little heavy on the carb side, and perhaps a little weird sometimes, but at least someone else was making it for you, and it was generally good. Two: dogs, dogs make EVERYTHING better. Three: capuchins, gibbons are great, but I think I'm still slightly more in love with the adorable capuchins of La Suerte. Advantages of Khao Yai include a washing machine, less humidity, mosquitoes that are under control (though leeches are a different story), and it gets cool enough at night to not sweat through my sheets. So, lesson learned: every field site, every forest, is different but I am still thinking coming over prepared was a better call than coming under prepared.
Okay, so now that you know why I named my blog "jungle funk" and how its actually a pretty inappropriate description of anything here other than my dirty running clothes, here are some other random thoughts I have forgotten to share. There is a tree in the forest that smells like marshmallows! What a great creation by mother nature. Julie and I don't actually know what kind of tree or plant it is, or what it looks like, but every once in a while you are walking along and bam, you look around expecting to be near a bakery or something based on the super sweet smell permeating the air. Marshmallow is a good description of the smell, but also for some reason angel food cake pops into my brain as well when I smell it. This of course makes me think of grandma Ginny and her delicious angel food cake. I am looking forward to many baked goods a la Nancy and Ginny upon my return...
Also, in the forest I have been seeing increasingly impressive looking spiders. It makes me nervous that I am eventually going to walk straight into a web and get a huge spider stuck on my face. I've had a few close encounters. The other day I walked face first straight into a web, fortunately I don't think it was occupied. The web sure was sticky. It was all over my hair and face and took a few minutes to pick off, and even longer to get the creepy feeling of imaginary spiders crawling all over my body to disappear. YUCK.
huge spider, body over an inch long
I guess I should stop rambling now. I've filled up almost my whole morning with Skyping and writing this, so I would say I have killed time successfully. I got to four-way Skype tri-internationally with Alaina, Katie (USA) and Elsie (South Korea) early this morning, and then with Nathan a little bit later. Lucky me! I suppose I'll make lunch soon and then spend the afternoon entering some data and reading on the porch. Until next time something interesting happens...