As of now, I have not gotten out to go sampling. The weather kicked in and blew a bunch of floating freshwater pack ice over to our coast which has done two things: #1) The zodiac boats can't get out to take us anywhere. and 2) the fog has come in which means that we can't go sampling (since we can't see where we are going. Not the safest situation.).
So, I have been socked in. But, today I am taking care of one of my two "Maria" days. When it is our day to be "Maria" we clean the base, set the tables, help the cook with the meals, serve coffee during meals, get people what they need and even where aprons that say "Hoy de Maria esta:" (Today, the Maria is:). So, I have been cleaning, I learned how to make Paella, helped make a cheesy fried thing (Croquetas de queso Cabrales), went to the beach to get some ice for the drinks (everyone drinks with lunch and the appetizers are sooooo good!), learned some Spanish, learned I like Cabrales (which is weird because normally I HATE blue cheeses), ate some cured meats (some sliced right off the smoked leg that has the hoof attached) drank a few beers and washed a few dishes.
I learned yesterday that one of my four sites is considered nearly impossible to get to. Luckily, the guy that will take me there thinks that it might be possible. That one is on the East side of the Island and will require a boat to get to. I can't get there until the ice leaves (of course, before the ice was here, it was on that coast of the Port Foster, which meant that if the ice leaves but resettles back there, I still won't be able to get these samples). I have hiked toward the two sample sites that are on the West side of the island but the fog made us turn back. I saw pictures though of Cerro Caliente (one of the westside sites) and it looks just like spots at Tramway! This is great news! The temperatures might be a little high, but the zonation is gradual enough that I will probably be able to find a good spot. I am totally stoked about this because if those samples are Tramway-like, we automatically have the perfect sample set and this sample site is the easiest to get to. This is gooood.
Here is some other tidbits that I sent to Charlie, Craig and Ian:
<Friday December 2nd to Ian Craig and Charlie>
Just a quick update. First of all, wow do things work differently here. I guess it is partly due to it being a smaller base. Muy Intersante!
We are woken up in the morning by blasting rock music being piped directly over the PA system into the dorm rooms. It is loud. It hurts. You think you can escape it by heading into the dining hall. Surprise! it is playing there too and everyone is dancing around. Definitely no way to "accidentally sleep in". Then we work from 9-2:00 and we take a break from 2-4 for lunch. I am not sure if it was just yesterday that we got appetizers for lunch (queso, jamon, random pickled/oily seafood bits) but we will see in a couple hours. Wine and beer is on each table for lunch, and lunch was delicious. Then we work again from 4 to 8:30 and have dinner at 9, also delicious. Lights out at midnight.
Each evening around 8, the head of each science group meets with the base commander to go over the plans for the next day. This is not an orderly organized happening. The base commander attempts order while the scientists battle it out for the resources for the next day. Luckily, two of my four sites happen to be near a senior researchers installations. So, I got bumped up the list. Unfortunately, the base isn't tidied up yet from the last influx of stuff coming in from the ship (stuff that came with us), so the sampling trips have been put off for at least a half-day, hence I am emailing instead of sampling this morning. Actually, there is one other reason I am not sampling today, which reared its ugly head at around 8:30 this morning...
I had problems with my permits. Turns out the application never got forwarded to the correct person. Also, there was a second permit application to fill out...well really it was the primary application for the permit to enter the ASPA in the first place. In it, it asks if sampling will happen and if so, the second permit "permiso_tomo_muestras" needs filled out. This secondary permit was the one I filled out originally. All the paperwork is now in and I have been assured that all is on track.
Oh well, if nothing else works out, I will submit my screenplay "Lost in Translation 2: Craig goes to Deception".
<Saturday December 3rd to Ian Craig and Charlie>
I officially have my permit and will be collecting samples this afternoon rather than simply doing a recon mission. I was warned that an ice sheet often blocks the passage to the area we want to go to so we may have to turn back. It will be interesting to see whether the Spaniards are more adventurous than the Kiwis when it comes to walking over ice sheets. I can't imagine that they are. The other thing that happens is that fog comes in and then we have to use GPS to navigate our way back! Adventure! If we finish quickly, we might do a second trip to a second site nearby. If I get these two done today that is 2 of the 4 sites I am permitted to collect from. Quite exciting indeed.
You know, I never mentioned this, but an observation I had on the ship was that everyone was so vomity and seasick. I mean it is the Drake Passage and all, but c'mon! The Spanish Armada went all over the oceans hundreds of years ago. I suppose I always figured that meant that there was a natural resistance to seasickness. They were all taking meds and vomiting constantly. Me with a landlocked genetic background took no drugs and did not get sick at all. So it was obviously not genetic, could altitude exposure protect against seasickness? Just another thought to ponder.
OK, I think that is it for me for now. I will let you all know how the sampling goes. Today feels more mellow, we were woken up with "Let the bodies hit the floor" (which seems counterintuitive) but then had some classic Billie Holiday to smooth over the frazzles from waking up.