Trailblazing

If anyone notices the lack of photos recently, it’s because we recently got a new internet provider and now uploading a picture can take near an hour.  I may go back and add pictures later if I can find better internet.

Mosquito populations seem to have tripled overnight.  It must be the rain.  Wet season started late this year, and reached a critical point a few days ago, triggering all the mosquitoes to lay eggs.  Now the latest batch has hatched, and started to swarm.  And it’s only going to get worse.

We’ve been spoiled so far.  Bugs have been light, and I haven’t even worn repellent for weeks.   I was finally forced to break some out today.  I still try to avoid using DEET, which, while effective, is made out of hundreds of dead baby seals judging by most people’s reactions to it.  It will also melt plastic.  I have found a brand called Natrapel to be effective in Costa Rica, and it’s made out of, at most, one or two dead baby seals.

I’m concerned about this now because our current work involves a lot of standing in one place within the forest, and sweating a lot.  We’re putting the finishing touches on a new trail along the coast to a point where we can watch the sun set.  Clearing trail in the primary forest isn’t that bad—with a thick canopy, the forest floor is surprisingly empty, with most plants persisting as seedlings waiting their chance to shoot up at the first glimpse of sun.  Trees have broad sympodial branches, so trunks can be spaced pretty far apart.  The trouble begins when the path tries to go up or down a hill.  Then you are forced to carve steps in tropical soil, which is either rocky and resists your puny attempts with angry splinters of flying basalt, or is clay and collapses into a Slip-n-slide with the first rain.

We’ve joined the termites, microbes, and other jungle forces of nutrient recycling and cut up a fallen hardwood tree that would probably be worth tens of thousands in lumber.  Hardwood being the only available material that can last any decent amount of time in this climate, we chainsawed a fallen fortune into boards and stakes to support our steps.  The problem still remains of pounding these things into the soil (see above observations on local geology).

But good monotonous physical labor is a nice follow-up to a near week of draining academics.  Plus, as long as you keep moving, the bugs can’t get you.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s