Janet C. Buckner, PhD
It has been two months since I've posted my last blog, and I assure you, with good reason. I wanted to take a break from it (even though I had just started!) and commit all my energy to resolving an unfortunate issue that came up with my research. It wouldn't be real life if there were no challenges.
Long story short, a serious lack of communication, too much blind trust on my part and a whole lot of overlap in the research proposals of two determined PhD students lead to an apparently unresolvable conflict, to which my response was to gracefully bow out and cut my losses. So, no more South American primates for me - at least for now. It may seem drastic to give up on primates all together after bad luck with one group (Amazonian marmosets) but the challenges seemed to be the same for other monkey groups, so I decided to save time and jump ship.
At first I was extremely disappointed, and even a little depressed about it. I had dedicated the last 2 years of grad school to making this project happen just for it to fall apart after only 2 weeks in Manaus. Also, because of the terrible timing of the official and final failure of the project ("discussions" about minimizing my losses went on for a while after my initial decision to quit the project), I missed out on a Fulbright reunion trip to Chapada Diamantina! If you have never heard of this place, google some images of it and you will see why I am thoroughly distraught that I did not get to go.
However, in the end it worked out. With the help of some great biologists here in Brazil and in the US, I already have a new project that I am working on like mad (hence my prolonged absence). The focus of my dissertation has turned to biogeography of neotropical birds. I'll give more details on this after the project is fully under way on my research page.
Now, the past two months have been tough and involved lots of slow going ground work to start a brand new research project toward the end of my fourth year in grad school (ugh), but it hasn't been all bad...
I've eaten some great food and learned to drink beer. I've always hated beer, and wouldn't necessarily say I like it now but being able to drink it is a new social power I suppose (if maxing out at two doesn't make me lame).
Tambaqui and another local freshwater fish from the Manaus region. Served with black-eyed peas and rice, farofa and vinagrete. Oh and lime of course. Delicious. I had this at an exclusive (so exclusive I never did get the name of it), very out of the way restaurant in Manaus with a great view (see pic below).
I've adopted a Brazilian cat. Meet Mia Feral. This kitty was rescued by my current housemate just days before I arrived in Brazil. She was extremely young, her eyes hadn't completely opened yet. She was abandoned at a local bar (while it was closed) along with two siblings. My roommate found them because of Mia, who was meowing with all her might. Her meow sounds like "mia mia" which is how she got her first name. Sadly, her siblings did not survive but Mia has grown to be very strong since her days feeding from a syringe (thanks to the dedication of my housemate Carla). I have fallen in love with Mia, and since Carla already has enough cats and was going to find her a nice home, I decided to keep her. Now I just hope the transition in the US is smooth (and possible!).
I hung out on a floating bar or "flutuante" for the first time.
I visited a cool little town, Novo Airão. Another blog on that later :)
And so I've received many small reminders about why I tried so hard to get back to Brazil to do research in the first place. Thinking about this, I've decided to do a series of flashback vlogs about my previous adventures in Brazil which will include some things I got to do earlier this year before I started the blog.