Friday, March 20, 2009

Pucón & Villarica

26 February

We collected at Rincón in the morning and found lots of Auca. I caught one blue, which was sitting right next to an Auca, but the Auca was worn out, so I snagged the blue instead. We drove toward Pucón and collected a few things alongside the road near Quepe, just south of Temuco, but no satyrines. They have Pieris brassicae here, a common white butterfly, but for some reason it's twice as big as it is elsewhere in the world. Apparently, it was introduced from Poland.

From Quepe we continued on to Villarica. We stopped again near Coipue Viejo at an access road that leads to an antenna and found some nice satyrines here. We stopped at the Donde Manolo restaurant for something to drink and then went on our way to Pucón and Villarica.

I've found Gatlinburg. Apparently, they have Gatlinburg here, except there's a big lake and a volcano, but other than that, it's Gatlinburg. Complete with kitchy little shops and drunken American tourists. Here in Villarica, we've found the slowest restaurant in the entire world. I wish I could remember the name. It's very verdant here and Hydrangeas are extremely popular and blooming, so it's very pretty in places, but there's no bamboo.

The owner of the little upstairs cabaña we stayed in, an Argentinian, says he knows of a place where there's bamboo. I had trouble understanding his accent, but Tomasz was able to figure out where to go, so we'll check it out in the morning.

27 February

Nothing, and I mean nothing, is open before 8:30-9:00 in the morning. We finally found a bakery and I had some empanadas tipicas and coffee. They were good, but not as good as the ones on the road to Olmue. I've decided that I should learn how to make these. I love empanadas. Mmm!

We went to one of the sites described to us by the Argentinian guy and there was indeed bamboo there, but no butterflies to be had. The quality of the blackberries was quite poor, thus further confirming our theory that the quality of blackberries is directly related to the quality of collecting. We went back to Coipue Viejo and collected almost all poliozona...or is it reedii? coenonympha? thelxiope? I'll have to take a closer look when I get back to the lab.* At lunch break, we stopped at the Donde Manolo restaurant and had a hamburger and coke. Except that an "hamburguesa" means a sandwich with tender sliced beef, palta (avocado), and tomato. Not bad. It's far better than a Whopper, anyhow.

We're on our way to Curacautín and Lonquimay. I have several specimens in the lab that were collected from here, so it's definitely worth checking out. We may even check out the Argentinian border.

*Upon further review, I still can't figure out what these little guys are. They're not poliozona and they're not coenonympha. I'm calling them thelxiope for now, even though thelxiope is a nom. nud. What that means, for my dear non-biologist readers, is that thelxiope is meant to be a separate species, but the name is invalid because it was not properly described.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Puente Aserradero and Recinto

24 February
In the morning, we collected at the same site as yesterday and in the afternoon at another where the road crosses a stream, not far from the end of the paved road. It's called Puente Aserradero and other than the fact that people who come here are complete slobs and don't put their trash in a proper receptacle (or their poo, either!), it looks like a lovely place for a picnic. 9AM to 10AM is rush hour for butterflies and in spite of the evil vegetative land mines of doom, we caught over eighty butterflies! We went on a nice long walk last night after dinner and saw a live, wild tarantula. I couldn't see what color it was because it was night time, but I'd never before seen a live, wild tarantula. It was wicked cool and just kind of sauntered in it's eight-legged way across the road.
Tonight's wine was Santa Ema Merlot, 2007 and it was good. Better, I think, than the wine from last night.

25 February
I had a dream that I saw a dear friend of mine at the Ren Faire with his betrothed. I was all dressed up in my doublet, but I'd left my sword at home.
Also, I've realized that I'll have to rip out sock #2 of the Chile socks because it's all the wrong gauge. I'll probably work on the January socks for a while. We collected in the site with the evil burs in the morning and then at Pte. Aserradero before lunch break. We've checked out of our little room and will soon be headed South.

Except that we found a really nice meadow for collecting this afternoon. We collected two Spinantenna tristis in a place where there's mint, lots of little flowers, and big fat blackberry bushes with big fat blackberries on them. The best part? No land mines. After procuring some cash in Chillán, we've decided to return to the little cabaña in Las Trancas. It's nice accomodation, cheap, and nearer to our meadow in Recinto than any hotel in Chillán would be. Besides, it's nicer in Las Trancas.

They have a mall in Chillán. It is full of people.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Las Trancas y Termas de Chillan

Valle Las Trancas is located about 8km from Termas de Chillan. There's plenty of bamboo here, so that's good, but I realized yesterday that I will run out of yarn before I run out of sock. That's bad.

I climbed Volcán Chillán (I'm pretty sure it was Volcán Viejo) and after having done nothing active over the winter, it was, to say the least, a difficult climb for me. To add insult to injury, a group of French tourists - people my parents' age, mind you, started out well behind us and because I'm so out of shape, they passed us up. And I lost my hat. As we are hiking up at a 45 degree angle the entire way, with me out of breath, Tomasz says "Don't stop, Jess! It's bad to stop, just go slowly. The French are catching up!" The thought of a French invasion and the prospect of butterflies kept me going and even though I was passed by a woman nearly twice my age, I did it. We caught nothing but a Vanessa, but suspect that Argyrophorus might fly here earlier in the season. In fact, our locality data shows Argyrophorus here in December and January. As far as collecting goes, it was a pretty dissapointing start to our day. On the other hand, I climbed a volcano - an active volcano.
We found a spot just off the road, about four kilometers from the big hotel in Termas de Chillán, where there's lots of bamboo and a good diversity of species. The only downside is that there are these evil vegetative land mines from Hell. There's this bur plant that produces sharp spiky seeds that stick to everything - your boots, your clothes, your net. Other than that, it's a good site. We found wallengrenii, simplex, leptoneuroides, stelligera*, chiliensis, and a single germanii (which went home with Tomasz). All in all, we caught about 30 butterflies, 21 of which had been caught by Tomasz...
We treated ourselves to jugo de frambuesas y panqueques con chocolate. For my non-Spanish-speaking readers, that's raspberry juice and crepes with chocolate. The evening's wine was Misiones -D- Rengo, a 2008 Cabernet Sauvingon.

*the stelligera turned out to be ambiorix. They're very similar in size and wing pattern and easy to confuse, but they are distinct species. I'm not putting down many genus names because part of my work is to determine what the heck genus these guys belong in. What's Neomaenas today might be Auca tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Sorry for the delay

More notes from my trip to Chile should be up soon. I haven't been getting a full night's sleep lately because, it seems, there's a burglar in our area. Night before last, the police knocked on my door at 4:30AM to make sure we were okay because our patio door was open. Last night, our neighbor (who is a police officer, but was off duty) knocked on our door at 3AM because someone was trying to climb up onto our balcony.
We're alright, nothing's been stolen and the perp was duly thwarted by said neighbor, though not yet caught, but I've been really tired. I considered not going to work today, but I've got a couple hundred labels to make for insects and that needs doing as soon as possible.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Espero y espero

22 Feb, 2009

Spent most of yesterday waiting in the airport as I finished sock #1 and started sock #2. I finally met up with Tomasz at the Holiday Inn. We stayed the night at the Hotel Vitoria, which was very nice, clean and with breakfast included. Dinner was meat, potatoes, and beer at a restaurant nearby. The two of us have agreed to a joint scientific study of the quality of wine at different latitudes in Chile. We know this is very scientific because we are scientists. We woke up an hour later than we meant to and are headed North to Til-til.

Collecting happened on the road to Olmue, 10-15km from Til-til at Puente La Laja near a stand with good empanadas. We found wild blackberries and wild grapes not far from here. The owner of the place with good empanadas. We found some Chusquea and a good spot with lycaenids and some of our little browns. Collecting was surprisingly good for a place so dry.
Huesillo - "little bone" a drink of peach juice with two whole peaches in - very sweet. The "little bone" refers to the peach pits.


We arrived in Las Trancas late at night and are staying in a little cabaña. There is bamboo here and we will be collecting tomorrow, possibly staying a few days here. The corkscrew is MIA and hopefully, we will have proper glasses tomorrow, hopefully in celebration. The place is all but empty and very quiet. On the way in, we saw scores upon scores of people headed out of the countryside and back into the cities. Their summer break is done and it's almost time for classes to begin.

The two scientists in the field:

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Leavin' Nashvegas

19 Feb, 2009

Chilean Butterfly Traveling BraceletHusband drove me to the airport and I talked the whole way because I was so excited. I don't even remember what I talked about and it's probably not important, but I was really excited and a little nervous. Anyone who knows me understands why. There was a time I wouldn't even dream of stepping this far outside my comfort zone. Anyhow, I took a picture of my "Chilean Butterfly Traveling Bracelet" that was made for me by Miss Beady. To quote her:

"Brown with a little red or orange, and some of them are silver." (That's how you described your study species.) This bracelet has been designed with the colors of your butterflies in mind. The brown beads are Czech glass. The orange/red/peach beads are all coral. Coral offers protection and prevents ill fortune and illness. The turquoise beads are real turquoise. Turquoise is native to the Andes mountains in Chile. (Although this turquoise is not from Chile. It is from Arizona.) Turquoise is a symbol of friendship and provides strength and brings good fortune. I hope this bracelet witll protect you and bring you strength on your journey.

The other one is a beetle (yes, it's a real insect) from Miss Jenn. It glows in the dark. I love it. I wore both of these on my way to and on my way from Santiago and it helped tremendously to know that there were dear friends thinking of me and wishing me well, even if they were in another hemisphere.

Arrival at Miami:
Miami sunsetAccording to my notes, from the time I arrived at the Nashville Airport to my arrival at the Miami airport, I knitted three inches of my Chile sock. On the flight down, there were two people from Chicago sitting near me, both Cubs fans. I saw palm trees, though far away, and for the first time since last summer, the city I was in was having temperatures of over 80*F (26*C).

I met a knitter from Chile named Milenca who lives in Chicago, but was visiting family in Santiago. We chatted for a bit on this and that and she told me where to find a yarn shop. This was extremely valuable information. Thank goodness for knitters the world over.

20 Feb, 2009

From here on, I'm going to try to take directly from my notes. I may add a bit, edit, clarify, or skip over parts as best pleases me.

I had to give up my snack food at customs - a total waste, but not worth the fines. I've checked in to my room at the Airport Holiday Inn, within walking distance from the Airport. Quite a change in environment. I'm sweating like a sweaty thing. I'm going to have to venture out into the world to get cash, get my car, and eat. I'd rather hole up here, but I don't have the luxury. Perhaps I'll visit the yarn shop Milenca recommended. It's on the Plaza de Armas, so it should be easy to find.

I hired a cab and went to downtown Santiago. I spent most of the afternoon wandering around, getting good & lost, but eventually found my way back to the Plaza de Armas. I was feeling kinda down, not having eaten or found a yarn shop, so I went into a place called Marco Polo and ordered a Coca-Cola. I'd started the heel flap of sock #1 in the cab and was well into it at this point, working on it as I sat in the restaurant. I shoulda done this to start with. I conversed as well as I could with the waitress about my knitting, ordered a sandwich and water (Santiago is very dry), and instantly relaxed. I made myself do it and it ultimately paid off. I got directions to where teh yarn shops were, picked the one where there were ladies sitting down and making stuff, and bought eight skeins of alpaca. It's Peruvian alpaca from the same company as the store I went to in Cuzco and cost roughly $3.75 a skein, but the yarn itself is hardly the point. I went out into the world - the Spanish-speaking world - and managed a sandwich, one or two conversations, and alpaca yarn.

Patricio, my cab driver, even held the sock for me for a picture. I'm sitting in my underwear because it's so damned hot and considering whether I should go eat. I'm not hungry, but all I've eaten today is airplane breakfast (which wasn't bad, actually) and most of a chicken and ovocado sandwich.
...I could have wine...
Sleep: 1, Wine: 0

Friday, March 06, 2009

There goes my carbon footprint.

I've just flown in from Santiago, and boy are my arms tired.

AHAHAHA!HA!...ha!...ha. eh, heh...achem...

After two weeks of hunting butterflies, I'm back at the ol' homestead. I haven't slept in something like 36 hours (overnight flight and I'm a light sleeper, despite the two glasses of wine on the plane), so I haven't got the spare neurons to put together much of a blog post.
At any rate, eleven hours of flying and fourteen hours of waiting, give or take, and I'm back home safe with all butterflies as they should be - in my suitcase and as intact as they ought to be.
I'll really update when I've slept some. I haven't even uploaded any pictures.
For now, I'll say that the plane ride from Santiago to Miami was very nice. I watched Kingdom of Heaven and The Day the Earth Stood Still and other than the lack of sleep, it was a good flight. If you're ever flying to South America, I highly, highly recommend LAN.

I will have more later, in bits and pieces as I upload photos and translate my notes from my field journal. Now, I think I will sleep until a reasonable hour tomorrow morning.