Farewell Rainforest


My husband told me to be sure to soak it all in and remember this trip forever… I can honestly say that I have appreciated every moment, even the miserable ones.

Today is our last day here at CICRA (Los Amigos Biological Field Station). This morning I took a long walk by myself down my favorite trail to a beautiful mirador overlooking the Los Amigos River. I sat there for a while just thinking about all of the things I have seen here and all of the great people I have met on this trip. It has truly been a wonderfully unique experience that will stay with me long after I go home. I really feel that I have a much clearer understanding of what it takes to do field research and I will say that it is much more work than I ever could have imagined. My hat is off to all of the researchers who devote months and even years to field research.

On my way back to the station I was fortunate enough to walk into a huge group of squirrel monkeys foraging right over the trail by one of my favorite sitting spots. I was able to get some great video but they move so fast that I couldn’t get a really good picture of them. It is really incredible to sit in the middle of the forest completely still and have monkeys climbing and leaping all around you. It was a great last hike.

For our last sunset here we all went down to the tower. It is a 75-meter tower that overlooks the canopy and the Madre de Dios River. It was a tough climb and one that I will never ever do again but it was so worth climbing it once. The view was breathtaking… It was the perfect way to say goodbye to the rainforest. I am ready to go home now.

I will be posting my favorite photos and videos on here when I get home so there will be more.

I’d like to thank the academy….

My heartfelt appreciation goes out to my amazing husband for his unwavering support, for holding down the fort so that I could go on this trip, and for continuously encouraging me to do awesome things, many of which I never thought were possible. Big hugs also to my girls for being so supportive and excited for me!

I want to thank Dr. Anneke DeLuycker for all of the time and planning that went into this trip, for all of the valuable information that I learned from her, and for her friendship along the way. I asked Bernie to watch over Tammy for us… 😉

Thank you Primates Peru for all of your encouragement and for sharing with us the incredible work that you all are doing here. Mini, Gideon, Gordon, Dara, Effie, Varun, and all of the research assistants, we had a lot of fun with you all and we learned so much!

Last but certainly not least, my classmates and new friends, it was truly my pleasure to meet and get to know each one of you. Remember when you are back home telling your tales of jungle adventures… we were in quicksand surrounded by a jaguar, a caiman, AND the largest anaconda on record. 😉



For the record, the view was incredible… the climb up and then back down was terrible. My legs feel like jello. I might not be able to walk tomorrow.


Linda is almost to the top!





Me at the top of the tower overlooking the canopy.






Spider Monkeys, a Tayra, and Gramps in the Water


This morning was really fun! We all hiked down to some abandoned gold mining sites to see how activities such as gold mining can impact the forest. Along the way we saw a whole troop of spider monkeys (coolest monkeys ever), another storm of squirrel monkeys (it seemed like there were hundreds of them), a Tayra, and found another species of bat with crazy camouflage skills! The spider monkeys were so much fun to watch! They swing through the trees so effortlessly with their long arms and prehensile tails. I love watching them hang from their tails while they munch on fruit!

Gramps (Seamus) waded into the lake at the mining site and his boots started sinking into the muddy water. He couldn’t get his boot out of the mud so he asked Christian for a hand. Christian went in to pull him out and both of them ended up falling into the water! It took three of the girls to finally pull them out of the foot and a half of water they were in. Stephi got pictures of the whole thing including one of me laughing so hard I literally couldn’t stand up. lol

Today was our last official day of observations for the course. Now we are just working on our research paper and the presentations that we have to give on Friday. We still have a couple of fun excursions and hikes planned before we leave here on Sunday. This trip has been so amazing but I am really looking forward to getting home to my own monkeys next week. J

On my list of jungle favorites: Spider Monkeys

spider monkey

Spider Monkey!!! [photo credit: Christian Bordoli]

 Grandpa’s rescue [photo credit: Stephi Matsushima]

Grandpa’s rescue [photo credit: Stephi Matsushima]

Here I am praying for a successful rescue… or laughing uncontrollably. [photo credit: Stephi Matsushima]

Here I am praying for a successful rescue… or laughing uncontrollably. [photo credit: Stephi Matsushima]


It moved too fast to get a pic so I swiped this off of factzoo.com so you could see it. ☺

A Muddy Hike


Today Ari found a family of sleeping bats! They were only about 50 meters from our dorm so we all went out to take a look. They were so cute all huddled together! I looked them up online and I think they were Heller’s Broad-Nosed Bat (Platyrrhinus helleri). I still haven’t figured out the species of the first bats we saw. Google images runs incredibly slow here so I might have to wait until I get home for that search.

Our hike was pretty muddy after the heavy rain we had last night. I sunk my boots deep into the muddy water a couple of times today but by some crazy miracle I managed to not fall in! At one point in our hike we heard a noise and stopped. A group of well over 40 squirrel monkeys came tearing out of the trees all around us. It felt like it was raining squirrel monkeys as they leapt through the air from tree to tree across the trail just over our heads! There were even some capuchins mixed in with them. They were moving so fast that none of us could get a clear picture of them. It was a pretty incredible sight to see!

We also saw a tiny floating reptile (that I will try to identify when I get home), and the largest Amazonian tree I have seen yet! It looked like one of the trees from Jurassic Park. It was really beautiful.


The bat family!



Christian, Courtney, Linda, and I walking down one of the trails after the rain. [photo credit: Seamus Riley]


Tiny floating reptile. [photo credit: Seamus Riley]

Our drinking water after a heavy rain…. Mmmm yummy! lol

Our drinking water after a heavy rain…. Mmmm yummy! lol



Just when I thought it was finally safe to go into the jungle without every part of my body covered, two of the guys here now have botflies!  One of them has a botfly in each arm. The other guy had two botflies in his forehead and one in his lip. They extracted all three of his botflies out this evening. He said he could feel them moving around under his skin while they were eating him. It was so gross, very creepy, and at the same time kind of cool. I am completely ok with
missing out on that particular jungle experience. If you are unfamiliar with the human botfly try googling human botfly removal. Or better yet, check out a few youtube videos on botfly removals.

Just don’t do it right after lunch. 😉

A Guilty Monkey and More Tamandua!!!


Today was so amazing! This morning our Titi monkeys came quite close to our dorm. We have an annona tree just outside our door and the Titis were eating the fruit from it. We were able to get about 7ft away from them. It was the closest we have been to them yet!

After lunch, I walked over to the steps that lead down to the water so that I could call home (the reception is better and there is a bit more privacy). While I was sitting on the steps talking on the phone I heard something sniffing just behind my head… I slowly turned around and there, about 2ft away from my face was the Tamandua!!! It was just sitting there sniffing me! The two of us sat there on the steps just staring at each other for about fifteen minutes before she finally decided to cross over and climb up a tree. I loved having her all to myself for a few moments. It was one of the most serene experiences I have had here. I can’t believe that I didn’t have my camera with me! Once she made her way to a branch I ran to the comedor and told everyone what had happened. They all ran out with their cameras in hand and we watched her for another hour and a half. Dr. DeLuycker was able to get some amazing shots of her (we named her Tammy the Tamandua) and Mini and Gideon (Primates Peru) captured some awesome video of Tammy foraging for ants. It was incredible!

A juvenile Titi monkey looking a bit guilty… I feel like this picture is just begging for clever captions.  😉

Titi guilty


Tamandua baby

Tammy the Tamandua  [photo credit: Dr. Anneke DeLuycker]

Tamandua and Jungle Cake


Yesterday was Varun and Tarzan’s birthday so some of the ladies in my group and the Peruvian ladies from Varun’s group collaborated in the kitchen to make them birthday cakes. It was quite a challenge since the kitchen is pretty basic and supplies are extremely limited. We managed to make one coffee and oreo cake by using a bit of instant coffee and most of our oreo cookie reserves and a star fruit-banana cake with a sugar glaze using some of the star fruit we picked from the tree and a couple of bananas we managed to beg from the Primates Peru researchers. It was so much fun working together to bake our clever creations. J Both of the cakes were so good! I can’t wait to make the star fruit-banana cake again when I get home!

This morning I was in the comedor working on my paper when I noticed everyone running to the cliff side. Not wanting to miss out on anything I jumped up and started running like a lemming to the water. There walking ever so slowly along the cliff was a Tamandua (anteater)! He was so cute and much smaller than I had imagined them being, I would estimate he was about the size of a large raccoon. A big thank you to Seamus for once again being at the ready with his camera! He was able to get a great video of the Tamandua climbing the tree. The picture below is a screen shot from his video.




(Courtney, Linda, Me, Anneke, Sonya, Pamela, Nadir, Ari, and Tuco in the kitchen baking bites of heaven) 😉

Good Morning


Good Morning

Today was another surreal day watching monkeys. We were able to get some good data on our Titi monkeys and had a great hike through the trails. We saw some more jaguar tracks and a family of agouti who were not very pleased that we were walking on their trail. I also made a great recording of jungle sounds that includes some of our Titis calling in the background. As soon as I get back to a strong internet connection I will share it with you all.

Morning at CICRA


The Titi monkey 4: Seamus (Grandpa), Christian (Tarzan), me (Mama), and Linda (Duckie). Dr. DeLuycker gave us walkie talkies so we all had to have handles… ha ha!

Group of four

Jaguars and Star Fruit


This morning my Titi group (Christian, Seamus, Linda, and I) followed our Titi monkeys off trail through the jungle. it was so much fun! We were able to get about four hours of data from them before we finally lost them. Thankfully it was almost lunchtime so that worked out pretty well for us.

After lunch we heard that someone saw jaguar tracks on one of the trails so Dr. DeLuycker and I went down to find them. The prints we found were so awesome! We were both so excited as we followed the tracks down the muddy trail. It looked like there may have been two cats, one larger (pictured below) and one that was quite a bit smaller. We didn’t find them but we did find a star fruit tree at the end of the trail! We don’t get a lot of fruit around here so we were pretty excited about our fruity find. Most of the fruit was up pretty high in the tree so Dr. DeLuycker gave me a boost and I climbed up far enough to shake some of the fruit loose. It was worth it.

On my list of jungle favorites: Star fruit.









Today’s post is a short one. Mostly I wanted to share this really great picture of a Titi eating an aguaje fruit (Mauritia flexuosa) that Seamus took today. I bought some aguaje fruit from the market in Puerto Maldonado. It has a really large seed inside and a scaly covering (almost like dragon scales) that you pick off revealing a thin layer of soft fruit that is slightly dry and has a texture similar to… nothing I have ever tasted. It actually tastes pretty good but it is a lot of work for very little fruit. We saw 3 groups of Titi monkeys today and were able to get several hours of data on them. Woohoo!

[photo credit: Seamus Riley]

That brown spot on the branch just above my left elbow are the Titi monkeys…



I also wanted to post a couple of pictures of the field station. The main building is the dining hall, where everyone goes to relax. It is cooler than our rooms and during the power hours in the evenings it is where most of us go to work and charge our computers.



The sitting porch where people read, chat, or play the old guitar.


The old 5-string guitar finally got its 6th string! Someone is usually playing this during the evening hours. It can be incredibly relaxing to listen to… depending on who’s playing. 😉


Everything is Awesome


Today was so amazing! First of all the friaje is starting to lift a bit so the temperature today was absolutely perfect. This was our first full day of data collection so we all set out on our own to look for our monkeys. About 75 meters into the first trail I walked down I found my Titi monkeys! They are so cute! I was able to collect data for about 40 minutes before they ducked into this big tree full of vines that I nicknamed “the napping tree” because they all went in to a thick vine clump and didn’t come out for over an hour. After about 70 minutes of waiting I gave up and walked down another trail. A short while later I sat down on a log to fix my boot when all of the sudden another group of Titi monkeys crossed over my head on a thin little vine! I followed that group off the trail for a while before they lost me in the thick brush. By this time it was almost noon so I headed back to camp for lunch. We had yummy vegetables and rice for lunch with WATERMELON!!!! [side note: Dad, I read your email taunting me with your watermelon as I took my first bite… ha ha] Anyway, I decided to go out again after I grabbed some gear from my room and while I was in my room I heard Titi monkeys outside my window! There was another group right outside the door of my room! I still can’t believe my luck. Two of my classmates (Christian and Seamus) and I were able to follow that group for almost two hours. I was able to get some really cute video and pictures of the Titi monkeys eating and moving through the trees and vines, oh and some great data as well. When I got back to my room the internet was working pretty well and I was able to message my husband for a while. Awesome day!