Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Views of Manaus

There is a certain irony in being a field scientist - we have the incredible opportunity to go to interesting places - Mexico City, California's Sierra Nevada, the Brazilian Amazon, and yet we spend almost the entire time working in small spaces fixing equipment, emerging only to drink a beer or buy some bottled water in whatever cobbled-together version of the local language we can muster.

For example, I have only two photos to show for myself after a week in Brazil. And they're not particularly exciting photos at that.

The first photo is of Qi (graduate student from Harvard who I'll be working with) and myself in front of the AMS (Aerosol Mass Spectrometer) that we're going to be taking out to the middle of the jungle. It took three months to get through Brazilian Customs, and no less than a week to track down a computer problem that prevented us from turning it on. But here you see us working on it at INPA - the local research institute we're collaborating with. They had no space for us, so the AMS was located at the end of the hallway. 'Was' because it got moved last night into someone's office as construction workers accidentally (?) tore the wall behind it down. This is what happens in Brazil. It makes me laugh. On a daily basis. Make that hourly.

The second photo is from our hotel room in Manaus. (I told you I hadn't taken any exciting photos). I took this on Sunday afternoon - in the midst of staying in my room with a decidedly unpleasant stomach bug, I heard a choir. Which turned out to be a massive close-down-the-streets parade - more of a moving congregation with a minister preaching, choir singing and enormous audience responding and praying. Quite the sight.

This photo also gives you a lovely glimpse into the glamour and sophistication of the city of Manaus.

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