April 6, 2005
Last night it rained....hard. At the time I didn't realize the effect the rain would have on our hike into the forest........so we got up at 6am and piled into the rana mobile and headed out, Edgardo driving. He told us that we have to cross a river (Rio Chagres) by vehicle and when we reached the crossing spot we saw the major problem that the rain had caused. We all got out of the vehicle and watched attempted crossings by people and horses. The water was moving fast and hard, and was belly deep on a horse. I've crossed several questionable rivers in the rana mobile in the past with Edgardo, but this was too much to ask of the vehicle. At that point we had a choice 1. wait for the river to hopefully recede (and also hope that it didn't rain more.....it is the beginning of the rainy season), or 2. start hiking from here. Edgardo points off in the distance.....2 mountains would have to be crossed before getting to the point where we would have driven to.........we chose to chance option #1. I could tell that Edgardo thought that the really long hike might be too much for the gringos.
So the waiting...it worked. The river receded and we drove across (strategically of course....and with a couple extra people hanging on the back for a dry trip across). We reached the house of Samwell's family which is where we leave the vehicle. There were several kids in the "neighborhood" so I left the remaining PGF coloring books and crayons with one of the mothers. Samwell's family has been working to help the golden frogs for years. They are good people, and we want to make sure that they understand we value their dedication to the frogs. We pay the family to watch the vehicle while we are gone. Edgardo asked if we could rent a horse to carry the packs, but the horses were not available, but Samwell and a friend (and Chumbo, his dog, of course) offered to carry a couple packs themselves. I, being the stubborn person that I am, decided that I would carry my own pack (a decision that was regretted a little later in the day). I thought that 60 lbs. of gear....frog supplies, one change of clothes, some powerbars, and a hammock....cross a couple mountains.....no biggy, I'd be fine. When we reached camp (truly the moment before my knees would have given out on me), I was pleased with myself, but it was a little harder than I thought it would be. We all were hurting a bit, but we made it to Marta. Our "house" had been built several years ago by Samwell's family for a student who was working on her Ph.D. It was great, a perfect place to hang our hammocks and call home. It even had a small enclosed room that made a nice changing space, but a flashlight is advised to keep from stepping on the scorpions.
We set up "house" and made a fire to boil water for the frogs (when we found them). Water for the frogs had to be boiled in order to kill the chytrid fungus so as to not reinfect the frogs after we began the itraconozol treatments. (The disease that kills the amphibians caused by chytrid is treatable, but the environment in which the fungus lives is not)
Tonight it was early to bed so that we can get an early start on the frog search tomorrow.