Member Login



Auto-login for future visits

Join or Renew Today!

Membership Benefits:

Close Button


Gathering Supplies in Trinidad, Bolivia

Sarah Faegre | Nov 12, 2007


My last night in civilization for the next 2.5 months and I am ready to go!

I have been in Trinidad, Bolivia for three days now, gathering and organizing field supplies for the next month with Carmen and Carlos and resting up in the Hostal Las Palmas.  Carmen, a young woman from Chile, is one of the project field assistants and is completing her second season with the Blue-throated Macaws.  Carlos, a Bolivian volunteer, arrived about a month ago.  The three of us will be leaving for the field tomorrow.

The weather here in Trinidad is hot and humid.  This morning it was clear, but dark clouds gathered quickly and finally broke open into a torrential downpour around noon.  The rain is pounding down around us at this moment, threatening to flood the much like some of my experiences working in Chaco.  But here, in the Beni, rain is much more frequent than the "Dry Chaco" of Argentina and all the city streets are lined with deep canals.  In my room I have a thermos lid and soap dish set out under the two biggest leaks from the ceiling.

I am very excited to get out into the live in my tent again and be surrounded by savannahs, forest islands, and best of all, parrots.  I will begin my work in the "campamento", which is accessible only by horse (and an inner tube crossing at the river) from the main camp at the estancia.  At the campamento I will be living and working with a Canadian volunteer, also named Sarah.  There is one active nest in the area, which we will observe from the blind, and will also climb regularly to check the health of the two chicks in the nest cavity.  Our other work will be exploring nearby forest islands to observe the activities of other macaws and parrots, and if we are very lucky, perhaps we will find a new Blue-throat nest.

The campamento sounds amazing.  Aside from the macaws and parrots, there are anteaters, peccary, ocelots, yaguarundi, armadillo, yabiru storks, and even the occasional jaguar or rare-maned wolf!  If all goes as planned and the landing strip at the estancia is not flooded after this rain, we will pack all of our stuff into a little Cessna tomorrow and head out into the field.  At the camp there is no electricity, no phone and no mail.  Our only communication with the outside world will be through a radio, charged by a battery, which can be used in emergency or to coordinate activities between camps.

While this isolation is part of my attraction to this work, it also means that I will not be able to send e-mail updates (or update my World Parrot Trust blog) at all while I am in the field.  If at all possible, I will send a handwritten report out with Igor when he leaves before Christmas, which he can type up and send out as an e-mail.  Except for the pre-Christmas report, which I hope to send with Igor, I will be entirely out of contact and unreachable until the end of January or early February, when I leave the field. 

I will continue writing reports by hand in the field, and will have many stories and photos to share upon my return to civilization.  To close this e-mail, I will tell a funny story about a miscommunication that occurred due to my "Gaucho" Argentinean Spanish.

Carlos and I were walking down the streets of Trinidad and discussing mate, (which I a managed to fine here in Trinidad and am happily drinking twice per day since my arrival).  I told him that I need to find a thermos but that I did bring a tea kettle with me from the United States.  The word in Argentina for kettle is "pava", and while I know it may seem a little strange that I am traveling with a tea kettle, Carlos seemed inordinately shocked by this.  "Una pava!?" he exclaimed.  "Viva?" 

"Of course," I said, understanding "viva" to mean that is was a functional tea kettle.  "I bought it just before I left.  It's very small," I said, demonstrating its 8-ounce capacity with my hands.

"But they didn't have a problem with it at the airport?" he asked.

"No, of course not.  Why would they care?  It was in my checked baggage anyways," I replied.

"Are you sure you're not joking?" he asked.  "But why would you bring a pava?  And where is it?"

"It's in my backpack, in my room," I said.  "I can show you later."

And so went our discussion, on and on, until somehow I discovered that he thought I was talking about a turkey.  "Pavo" is the word I know for turkey and I guess here in Bolivia, "pava" is a female turkey, not a tea kettle. 

"I thought maybe you wanted to eat turkey for Christmas..." Carlos told me later.