West of the Fields

A tropical ecologist reporting from the field. Musings on life and art, botfly extractions, tropical plant identification, beer, parrots, machetes. Etc.

Friday, June 30, 2006


Every morning as I cross the suspension bridge on the way to breakfast, I have a habit of checking the water color where the narrow Quebrada Surá flows into the river. When it’s raining in the mountains but not in the lowlands, the Surá is a clear green thread spilling into the red-brown. When it’s raining here and not in the mountains, the creek brings in billows of red mud to the jade-green river. This morning, the outlet of the Surá was an almost unrecognizable bay in a new coastline of tree crowns. I took an unwise detour back into the woods, and found the little creek flowing backwards with the force of the flood.

The rain started coming down like a fire hose from the sky about 5 AM yesterday, and it hasn’t let up for more than a few minutes since. The river is only a few meters below the suspension bridge, a roiling brown torrent carrying entire trees, and all the forest trails are closed. (With good reason—about 500 meters down the STR, the main bike trail to the back of the property, the water is apparently now chest-deep and swift. Trees are falling left and right.) The low-lying buildings have been evacuated. To get to the station now, you have to take a boat for about 100 meters of the entrance road. I just checked the weather satellite photos, and Costa Rica is the epicenter of a not-inconsiderable storm system moving up the Carribean. I guess we have more of this to look forward to.

Oddly, the atmosphere on-station is relaxed and almost festive. Nobody can really get any work done, since the forest is closed. It reminds me of snow days when I was a kid: a legitimate excuse to sleep in, read a good book, or, in this case, watch the World Cup finals nearly guilt-free. In a day or two when the river goes down, I’ll have to work double shifts to catch up for the lost time. At the moment, though, I’m happy to be on enforced break.


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