Today George, Luis and I had to leave the team in Manaus and travel to Belem to meet the archaeologists and anthropologists that work at the ‘Museu Paraense Emílio Goeldi’ in an attempt to identify sites for the next field trip in may. Leaving was tough as although everyone had enjoyed collecting their favourite species rather than the systematic sampling we had done the rest of the week (due to the rain) it meant we were leaving the team three down with a lot of work in the balance. For sunday the group was split into three, a preparation team working at the hotel to catalogue and label the sites/samples so far, an advanced Manaus site finding team and ourselves who after a brief meeting with a great archeologist is Manaus over a late breakfast on the way to the airport we fly to Belem to start to look for new sites and establish new connections with the tera preta network.
The portance were poor when the taxis driver took us to the wrong restaurant so we were late for our breakfast meeting, then after a rushed discussion both Luis and I made school boy error of leaving our pen-knives in our carry-on bags and had to leave them behind when we hit the security at the airport. So three very exhausted and dejected earthworm hunter hit the plan and summarily went to sleep.
The arrival in Belem lifted our spirits as our host, Marlucia (Boniface Martins) Deputy Director of the Museum and an Earthworm sympathiser, met us at the airport and took us to a small house (bottom right below) she had arranged to rent. Waiting for us was Marie (Luise Carolina Bartz) of Universidade Positivo, Curiteba one of George’s closest collaborators and friends who was in Belem cataloguing their earthworm collection.
Unfortunately, the evening brought although pleasant did not bring good news from Manaus – the advanced team had gone to two sites both good tera preta sites but neither accessible by road – boats and considerable walking would have been needed. This meant the team potentially only had two sites left – the ones we had aborted on Sunday. Also the forest sites we had hoped for in Belem seems too small and sites in Santarem (on the Rio tapajos) seemed to be also be incessible. And to cap it all we did the accounts !!
The logistics of taking 18 people to the field and all the integrated sampling was starting to stretch both our sanity and the projects budget……time for sleep.