30 August 2009

Whirlwind Northeast Tour

On August 16th I flew to Newark, NJ from Panama City with Anarelys, a fifteen year old girl from the village where I work. She receives a scholarship from a group at the Marvelwood School to continue with her schooling. Laurie Doss, the Science Dept Chair at The Marvelwood School, has been bringing a group of 10 students to visit Panama for the last three years. They arrive usually end of January and spend a week at our field station. These students help to raise money for three scholarships for girls in the village and also helped to pay for our trip.

Although her first plane trip didn't seem to phase Anarelys, I discovered upon arrival that her true fear was of escalators! We spent an uncomfortable hour in immigration where she was questioned over and over by different people about the purpose of her trip while I was trapped in Baggage Claim on the other side of the glass wall. As we tried to pass through customs we were stopped again and sent back to immigration and the agricultural inspection where we spent another hour being questioned individually and having everything completely searched. Luckily when we were finally let out Laurie and 3 other familiar students' faces were waiting for a us with a photo of a Royal flycatcher to catch our attention.

The rest of the trip was go go go! We spent the first day at the school in rural Kent, CT mist-netting and banding birds and eating lots of blueberries from bushes that were donated by Henry Kissinger. That evening there was a welcome dinner at one of the student's homes. The next day we went to the new Science Center in Hartford, CT that just opened in July. It was really great with many of the exhibits related to hot topics (climate change, energy, water, etc).

On Wednesday we drove to Falmouth to spend a night with the family. My mom had other friends visiting as well so it was a full house. Anarelys got to see the Woods Hole aquarium, the Knob, and the drawbridge in action. Laurie and my dad hit it off and had fun discussing birds and beach species. Thursday midday we said good by and drove back to Kent via a Butterfly Garden in South Deerfield, MA.

We spent the next few days checking out the local waterfalls, American Indian museum, more bird banding and practicing English. We spent Sunday at the Mystic Aquarium and the following day we went bright and early to New York City on the train to see the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. We returned to NYC the following day to visit the Bronx Zoo and go to a Yankees game. I was most impressed by the gorilla exhibit and it was definitely weird seeing a giraffe in the middle of NY. The Yankees played the Texas Rangers and ended up loosing 9-10.

The next morning we went back to Newark and had a pretty uneventful trip home. On the plane Anarelys told me she didn't want to leave the US. Hopefully she'll be able to visit again next year and stay for a month or more.

Now I'm in Panama City, working in the CREA office for a couple days before heading back into the field. Sabine's 24th birthday is tomorrow so we'll be celebrating. I'll be coming back to the city September 17th to meet my friend Meg who will be visiting for a week. Can't wait!

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