Some notes from living in a tropical developing country… and in the nature world!
The ants will find everything. This includes anything with sugar, sauce, carbs and sometimes protein.
If you fall over, get up again quick-ish. Otherwise you will never get where you are going… nor get to the other ‘umpteen falls that await you.
Be patient – nature loves to test you. You being to understand stories of BBC camera men in hides, alone, on mountain tops, for 3 months without a sighting , even when you are just searching for a primate, hoping and waiting (only for a few days!) for one to show its furry face…
If you have a chance to visit somewhere, go. You’ll never know what you will see and what nature and inspiration will find you.
You learn a lot if you help others, even if the task seems simple. Recently I held a small conference over skype for current BSc students , detailing small bits and bobs about ecological careers options. I am interested and enjoy helping people understand a bit about working in ecology, and what I contribute is simply based in listening to collegues & friends experiences and learning from my own. Answering simple questions and dicussing honestly about how people progress whilst working in Ecology always leads to some interesting , unbelievable stories of luck and opportunity…
Often, if it can be late/delayed , it probably will be – therefore you can’t schedule very well.
If you need someone’s help, they will be either able to help straight away or not for days or weeks. Therefore always contact someone early and plan ahead… with your very rough ‘maybe yes maybe no’ schedule because nothing is on time… hmm. Tricky.
Insects happen. Enjoy them, ‘cause if you let them BUG you, you will have to leave. They are not going anywhere…
Ask questions. So far I have been able to learn about many plans and places I intend to follow up on. This refers to places, topics to learn, skills to prioritise and understanding of making your life awesome.
Be prepared to adapt what you think you know.
When taking field notes/field labels, be precise, clear, logical and sometimes very obvious. I shudder to think how many scientists come back to their own notes and don’t understand them, let alone other people’s notes/instructions. This also means don’t write notes when you are so tired you can’t see…
Don’t leave biscuits in your bag over night unless you want rat-sized-holes in your bag.
The human body is often more physically strong than you think.
Do turn off your phone and the internet. I find I connect better if I have been a little disconnected.
Invest in hard drives to back up your work. While you’re at it, invest in two more.
Whilst in the tropics, you are likely to need less alcohol to get drunk than before. Do not test this on a night before field work.
Use your eyes – look to all sides and corners of you square of vision. You chose to be here, so as my colleague says, “actively apprectiate!”
Don’t forget your glasses.
Judge whether to take a photo – a colleague says “live in the moment”…Don’t look at a screen that documents the past minute when the moment is still out there.
Do get suitable shoes. This does not always mean buy good shoes.
Do buy good socks… and know where your towel is(1).
If you can’t yet sleep at any time of day, you will probably learn.
Do eat ice cream. If nothing else it is a source of milk…
Do eat pie.