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.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Otra salida

Once again I find myself in the departure lounge of the Juan Santamaria International Airport in Alajuela, watching the clouds begin to build up on the ranges of mountains that hem the Valle Central. Late August; classes start tomorrow. It’s a field lab, nothing too exacting, but lord knows how I will stay awake. I am bone tired from ten weeks of being responsible for twelve young people’s welfare, not to mention the sleepless night last night as low planes shook the second story of my hotel every half hour or so. Still, I keep going. It’s one day at a time, often one hour at a time, doing what I need to do to keep my head above water. It seems sometimes as if no time has passed since the first weekend I was here, back in May. Alex was leaving town for a few days and I would be alone in the house with all those memories, with no one in the neighborhood to call.

“Are you going to be OK?” she asked me.

“Do I have a choice?” I said.

And that’s the way it is; I keep going because there is no alternative.

I thought I would wait until I had something momentous and good to talk about before posting here again. And I do, in a way: I got the job. The teaching job with OTS, the one I’d dreamed about, traveling around Costa Rica teaching natural history, conservation policy, and methods of field ecology to undergraduates. In many ways this is the ideal job for me: I love teaching, I love traveling; I love this country, though I fear I will never really understand it. And yet, and yet... part of the reason I applied for the job was to be here with Franklin. I had hoped to share the good news with him. Instead, I’m celebrating— if it could be called celebrating—alone.

Friday afternoon in the OTS office I signed the contract. I’d hoped to feel some sense of victory, something, but instead I was just numb and exhausted—I’d spent six hours doing the final inventory for the REU program, and I’d stupidly forgotten to bring anything for lunch. I scrounged a donut from a tray of goodies that someone had brought in, but mostly I survived on coffee and the kind of single-minded determination that, I hope, will see me through this and get me my doctorate.

Yesterday I wandered around San Jose, bought lunch for a homeless man, got rained on, wondered what exactly I am doing here. Hopefully when I return in January I will have a better idea.


At 11:28 AM, Blogger Waterfall said...

Hi jackrabbit! I made a little labelled map that I thought might bring a smile to your face: http://asortofnotebook.blogspot.com/2008/09/waterfall-makes-water-fall-from-sky.html

At 11:29 AM, Blogger Waterfall said...

Oops, I meant "labeled"!


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