Our next stop was up! Heading east toward the Andes, our destination was waaaay up in the clouds, a cozy little town called Faique. Cloud forests harbor unique ecosystems home to a wide diversity of different species. We stayed with a lovely little family that graciously shared a room for us to sleep and cooked us some unbelievably good food. The head of the house was a farmer, who grew everything from coffee to passion fruits in little patches along the mountain.
At dusk, we begin to set up the nets to catch the bats. Being this close to the equator, it gets dark super early compared to Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic.
When bats emerge, so do all the other creepy crawly (or awesome) critters!
While showing us his farm (which basically meant and 1000m ascent on steep slippery terrain), our host also wanted to show us some rock crevices where he thought we may be able to find some bats. So as we gear up for a muddy in our fancy North Face boots, cargo pants, bandanas, etc., our host casually strolls up the mountain with a machete in his Sunday best.
My two favorite things about Faique: waterfalls and Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths).
One thing to remember about cloud forests is that all aspects of your life are exposed to a chronic mist. EVERYTHING is wet ALL the time. This leads to very exciting road conditions.
Cheers to our driver Jorgé who bravely got us out of this mess! 🙂
The thing that struck me most about Peru is all of its different parts. It is dry, it is wet, it is cold, it is hot (REALLY hot), it is dry, it is humid (REALLY humid), it is high it is low, it is on the coast, it is in the mountains, it is in the suffocating rain forest. I was amazed at the diversity of landscapes, food, and people that are engulfed within one massive country. I was originally planning to post about all of the Peru expedition, but it didn’t seem fair to all of the amazing nooks and crannies we found ourselves in. Our first stop was in the north of Peru, where it is mostly coastal desert until you reach the Andes. We took an overnight bus from Lima (liquid nitrogen and all), and after a groggy 14 hours, the term “mirage” might be appropriate here. When we finally convinced ourselves of what we were seeing after hours of Star Wars-esque terrain, the surprisingly bustling city of Piura emerged out of the desert. We met with our fellow bat biologists and hopped in a (precarious) pick-up, for yet another 4-ish hours north, until we were almost in Ecuador. A family welcomed us in their home and we were able to set up our field equipment for the night.
Our first night was in Roca Rojada in Suyo. The views speak for themselves.
By day, we are full time dog-petters…
…but by night, the life of a bat biologist really begins.
Others prefer the after-hours as well…
With only a wink of sleep, we get ready to set off to our next locality. But not before some last minute freshening up…
I just arrived back from two weeks in Northern Wyoming. The main focus of the trip was helping out on a dinosaur dig (awesome, I know) in the Bighorn Basin, but we made time for some extracurricular exploration.
So, sit back, relax, and smell the prickly pear flowers….
The Bighorn Canyon is surely one of the best kept secrets of the West, giving the Grand Canyon a run for its money.
Perhaps the highlight of the trip was the pig races. That’s right, the pig races. If you ever happen to be in Red Lodge, MT, make sure to make this your top priority. In fact, make a visit Red Lodge, MT your top priority and enjoy the pig races.
Grab a Moose Drool, pick a pig (Waltzing Fatilda, perhaps? Sausageawea is another good one. Hillary ClintHAM won’t let you down!), and watch the little pigs run their dear, little hearts out because they know that a treasure chest of leafy greens awaits them.
We took a trip up to Cody one night for the rodeo…yeehaw!
My favorite painting in the Buffalo Bill Center of the West:
We cooked dinner every night in our little farmhouse.
Fried bread was made. And all was well.
But that big sky, mmhmm.