Thursday, May 8, 2008

Posted by Noah

I think anyone with even the slightest inclination towards psychotherapy would assume that I continue to take field jobs in out of the way places to somehow assert my masculinity. To hunt, capture, colonize, dominate or whatever (all the great things white men used to be allow to do). Which, naturally, is why this job was like hitting the jackpot: climbing trees, catching snakes, shooting oversized sling shots etc. I could finally be the real man that I knew was hiding somewhere deep underneath the surface.

At first I thought it was actually working quite well, but as I’m sitting here thinking about it, I realize that I’ve still been successfully emasculated so frequently that I might even worse than I began. How depressing. Here the highlights of my emasculation:

1) I was fishing and Charne decides to join in and basically catches a shark-sized piranha within the first five minutes. I only caught a 4 inch guppy looking thing. The guys cooked it up and brought it out to her at dinner. I think they did it just to humiliate me.
2) We found the cavity of the elusive Nictimantis rugiceps and I was nominated to catch that beautiful beast of a frog. So we went out that night, I climbed the ladder, put the net over the hole, shook the tree to flush him out and alas, instead, he decides to sink in there and hold his ground. The only way to get him is to reach in there and grab him. But my hands are too big. And now under “Collector” in the data book is written the name “Charne”.
3) I was bragging to everyone how I was finally getting to know the forest and could recognize certain areas and trees and know where I was even off the trail. Then I go out the next day to count bromeliads and count 124 on this one tree and think out loud, “Wow I just counted another tree near here yesterday that also had 124 bromeliads. What a coincidence!” I think you get it.
4) The BBC comes to Tiputini and wants to film a tree climb. What’s cooler than that? We get to the tree and my one job was to tie the rope in a daisy chain so it would unwind fluidly. It was all wrong, totally tangle. Mariano (one of the “Tigres”, the workers) and I spent the next 10 minutes untying knots, on camera. He did most of it. And speaking of the Tigres, how am I supposed to feel manly when these guys can do everything from tracking jaguars to carving canoe oars with chainsaws to weaving beautiful lampshades out of palm fronds?
5) I finally catch an edible sized fish. A nice catfish. It was sitting gulping its last breaths for 15 minutes and hadn’t moved once. Then somehow it summons the energy for one final leap and makes it back into the river. And now no one believes that I caught it and I don’t blame them.
6) We go to catch an anaconda and during the capture I get a fang in my finger. It bleeds substantially, even showing up on the video, and all I can think while we were holding it down and taking blood was “man, now I can tell everyone back at camp I got bitten by an anaconda!” And then, on the same freaking day, another researcher gets a bite from a huge constrictor on her leg, stealing all my thunder. Now no one remembers my bite.

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