I am in Panama for the next year looking for capuchins.
The Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute on Barro Colorado
Island is the Ritz-Carelton of tropical research stations. In
addition to the excellent cooks, constant electricity, fast internet
connection, and hot running water, we are also spoiled with
The research station is in the Panama canal, so huge cargo
ships are the backdrop to the rainforest.
Its not an isolated field station here. There are twice daily boats
to the mainland, and it is only about an hours bus ride to
Panama City. The city is really hot and dirty though, so I prefer to
spend my days off on the island, swimming off the raft and
avoiding Gloria–the alligator who lives in the lagoon.
The forest here is really well protected by the Guardabosques–a
group of large, intimidating guys who patrol the National
Monument to keep poachers out. Because they aren’t hunted,
the animals are really tolerant of humans, and you see lots of
mammals while walking in the woods. The spider monkeys
even come visit the lab clearing about once a week. They are
actually here right now:
The night life here is also pretty cool.