Ecology is frustrating- logistically, intellectually, and financially. We’re each of us Don Quixote, tilting at nature’s bizarre windmills. Some days it’s easy to forget what we’re doing and why we’re here.
I haven’t had a lot of those days in the past few weeks (although sitting on a milk crate in a hollowed-out tree trunk today came close). The magnitude of the accomplishments of the people around me has knocked me on my ass (or off my ass, if we’re sticking with the Cervantes metaphors). Prior to coming here I was working on filing permit paperwork and writing an ever-morphing project proposal-not, I think, the preferred tasks of any ecologist. But after hearing about fig-wasp mutualisms and ant plasticity and all other sorts of things, I feel reinvigorated. I’m ready to dust off my pants and write (and then hopefully do).
So thanks everyone. Thanks to the course organizers, the speakers, the support staff, and my fellow grad students. I’ll be sorry when the course is over, but I hope we get the chance to work and learn together again.
Oh, and something I meant to include in my last post: don’t eat meat from the grocery store in Bocas del Toro. If you want to know why, just feel the glass case it’s kept in. Restaurant meat is fine, I think.