Sep 6, 2014

Three photos (poster from Kunming restaurant, in Borobudur, meal in Slovenia)

Back to Bogor to become Toad Catcher-in-Chief

        This year, 2014, I’ve traveling every month (which is a lot less than most CIFOR colleagues!) and when not traveling I’m was most happy to just “be” rather than “do”.  Or if I was doing something, it was something away from desks, chairs, or keyboards.  That meant no blog posts.  
So a overview of the trips.  Be warned that what follows reads like a travelogue, and is more romantic in the telling because it involves no fatigue other than feeling dizzy with reading!  We celebrated the new year (probably asleep) in southern India finishing up our lovely vacation in Fort Kochi (Robert must have written about it somewhere and posted pictures).  I returned to India in February for the World AgroForestry Congress in New Delhi.  At the end of March, we went with our good friends Louis and Tony to Bali for Nyepi, the Balinese new year which is celebrated in a style that is wonderful -total silence and no external light or gadgets.  We went to Candidasa, which used to be a big resort until the reefs were mined and caused the tourist industry to tank.  The reefs are being recovered, and Robert and our friends had a wonderful time snorkeling and swimming. I enjoyed the beauty of marine life vicariously through their descriptions.  Thanks to Tony, we are now fans of the French game Tarot!  In April, thanks to Louis, I got to visit Kunming, southern China to learn about some of their forest restoration work.   Every meal we eat there was spectacular and the restaurants there had this amazing poster on the walls (see photo on blog).  I tried getting the actual poster but each restaurant gets only gets one and I could get one from city hall.
-->On the way back, I met up with Robert in Bangkok for a long weekend.  I felt and thought so much in both places, and have much to say about both trips.  The month of May saw us in Jakarta for a CIFOR conference and then in Yogyakarta for a workshop.  Between work, we had a fantastic trip to Borobudur (see photo above) with our friends Manju and Kanchi, and Annie, a student-colleague from UC Berkeley.  This was my third trip Yogyakarta and the second time we stayed in the marvelous Dusun Jogja Village Inn.  There were a few public holidays later in May but I was so tired of traveling that we went no further than to Vila Botani, an organic farm on Salak, the volcano around Bogor.  With some planning we were mercifully spared traffic misadventures and had a rejuvenating day trip.
In June, I had to go to Italy and Turkey for workshops, so Robert joined me in Istanbul on his way back to the US.  Yes, we had a fantastic time walking around the streets filled with cafes and cats, eating great food and also got great views of the Bosphorus from the terrace of the apartment we rented.  The highlight of the trip was meeting up with Ipek Ozgul--one of my former students who is from Turkey.  After a few days in Istanbul, we went to Slovenia to see our friends Steve and Mia.  They were superb hosts and we were lucky that the weather was excellent while we were there.  Among the many fantastic things about the trip was eating one of the best meals I’ve had in a year or more (photo above),  hiking in the mountains, going to the Adriatic, and eating more great food from the farmers markets. Robert returned to the US from Slovenia and I returned to Indonesia and spent a month working with two student colleagues.  They also shared the house with me, and with most CIFOR scientists gone, we had a few pleasant weeks of work and play.  They latter was mainly lollygagging (in the wonderful hammock and sewing).
I went to the US in mid July and stopped in Chicago to see my mom before heading back to Massachusetts. After various minor dramas associated with resettling in the house after having rented it for a year, I flew to Charlottesville to visit the Redicks and help Robert drive back with Chloe dog.  I worked from our Massachusetts home for three weeks.  Non-work time was spent hanging out with friends, visiting old haunts, hiking or hanging out with our pets, enjoying summer and the ability to walk or drive without traffic dogging our every move!  I was lucky that the weather was perfect during my time there. The heat and humidity held off until I was in Bogor.
Back in my Bogor home I returned to the warm embrace of tropical vegetation and the bestiary of my back yard.  The black cat that lives around the yard came by just as a poor fish that had jumped out of our pond died.  No I don’t plan to adopt the cat but it serves its purpose of keeping the big rats at bay. I saw a big rat crawling down the pipe near the back of the pond.  I shooed it back up.  Too bad that neither the cats nor rats catch the toads that have somehow breached the barriers that the gardener has rigged to keep them out.  With Robert and Annie gone, I have become the toad catcher-in-chief, and taken over Robert’s job of involuntarily migrating anything that croaks!  
Following parade of rat and cats, was a bat (alliteration unintentional).  It was a medium sized one flying low in the back yard and especially over the fish pond.  I have yet to see the javanese kingfisher that comes to catch the fry from our pond.  However, the tokays have been calling all night and all day.  Love them!