Trip to Barcelos

Mario Cohn-Haft - Friday, September 20, 1996

    So, too, for Barcelos: eventually I was able to track down everything I needed. A nice lady lent me her husband’s bicycle while he was travelling. That turned out to be a handy way, not only to do errands around town, but also to get into the primary forest at the outskirts, which otherwise were a 3 km walk through town and second growth. You should have seen me on a proto-mountain bike (that is, the old-fashioned, balloon-tired, one gear, girl’s frame type) with my recording equipment in the basket on the front, my hunting vest and knapsack on my back. I had to pedal mostly standing up (because the bike was too small to really stretch my legs), and go rattling along a muddy and bumpy track through second growth past manioc and banana plantations, asking to be excused by folks with heavy loads balanced on their heads who looked at me like I was some kind of high-tech, Rambo, Mary Poppins.

Gerry was a real trooper. He had been a participant on an eco-tour I’d led, had taken an interest in my research, and had offered to join me as a field assistant, just for the experience. But, he wasn’t really prepped for the heat and chiggers and waiting around, the unglamourous parts of field work. Mostly he accompanied me, carried some of the equipment, and struggled with Portuguese. He tried to tell one Brazilian that he likes to sing, but it came out as “I’m a jerk!” In another couple weeks he’d be doing great here. His spirit and desire to help out the project were real assets.

This trip, my time was restricted by Gerry’s need to return to the States and by a birding tour which I’ll be leading, which starts in a few days. I’ll have to go back to Barcelos at some point, but for now I think it’s more important to hit other sites and see where the sampling weaknesses are, rather than overemphasizing complete samples at any one site.

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