Sunday, August 3, 2008

Posted by Bejat

Shawn’s birthday was fantastic! We took the day off to catch up on some work on the computers and around the lab. I was able to get some paint down on paper and took hundreds of photos of birds with the new 300 mm zoom lens my mom purchased for me as an early birthday and Christmas present. It was sent in with John and I have been practicing for several weeks with my new zoom lens. I have decided that birds are extremely difficult to photograph.

After lunch, Shawn got some more computer work done and I got some rest. In the afternoon we went for a short walk on the trails, however, we decided to return to camp before the sky opened up and dumped. The thunder was unbelievable and we could hear the rain off in the distance. It was a race against the incoming rain clouds to get back before the “jungle wave” hit.

Once we were back in camp, we climbed the hillside to get a view of the rainbow, rain, sunset and lightning. We had no rain gear, but up on the hill is a house where we could take shelter on the porch. I was able to get a few photos of the rainbow and sky before the serious rain hit. Shawn covered my camera with my bandana from the light sprinkles and I was able to get a few photos before the downpour.

We ran up to the porch to watch the lightning. It was something like a fireworks display. The lightning was so brilliant and close that it burned our retinas and left imprints of lightning bolts in our closed eyes. The thunder was so loud that it shook the ground and our eardrums were left with a slight ring. It was the most amazing storm I had seen yet in the rainforest. The wind was blowing fiercely and the rain was so heavy we could not see our hands in front of our faces. We waited for 30-40 minutes for it to stop, but it just continued and we walked down the hillside in the intense rain. We were drenched!

Poor Kaya was worried sick about us because she thought we were at the tower that is up in the canopy watching the sunset. She had located Ramone, who works at the station, and was asking if he could try to find us. We walked up just as she was asking this and she was so very happy to see us. We felt so badly for making her worry so much. She had never experienced a rainstorm like that before in New Zealand. She was so excited.

Kaya had spent the afternoon baking a traditional New Zealand cake for Shawn and made him the most beautiful card with the two different Eleutherdactylus species that he described as new species. I also made him a card with the ventral view of Dendrobates duellmani. We gave him some 70% dark chocolate from Ecuador, cards, cake and a movie (El Presidio). That evening we watched the new Indiana Jones flick, since some other photographers that were visiting the station left it with us for viewing. In Ecuador people can buy pirated videos, sometimes even while the movie is still in the theatres. The quality might not be so good, but you get to watch something entertaining. We’re not complaining since we’ve only seen a few movies this year. Not many theatres in the middle of the Amazon.

We were so hopped up on sugar we were wired and our stomachs hurt so terribly bad. We stayed up until about midnight lounging and the next morning it was back to work. What a wonderful day, Shawn’s birthday.

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