Day 8: Monday, June 13, 2005
September 21, 2005
Most of us went to get empanadas but it took a while for him to make them all because there were so many of us. I got a ham and cheese one which was alright, but was too greasy for my liking. I stuck to dry cereal from then on.
We all went down to the lake to study its current flora and fauna. We found many shells from species that could not possibly be living at this location and must be reworked from much older deposits. This was somewhat discouraging as it means I have to be all the more careful in my study of bivalves in the sequence. We took salinity readings of the lake, but they always came out very low until we realized the fresh streams emptying into the lake were floating on the denser salty lake water. By taking measurements from a depth of a couple feet we obtained readings of around 90 parts per thousand.
No visible macroscopic life in the lake other than some stromatolites, but there were very small fish living in the fresh water streams emptying into the lake. They would chase food bits floating down the stream right to the opening into the lake, and dart back up stream knowing that the salty water means certain death. Apparently there are salt water crocodiles living in the lake, but they only live on the sand bar in the middle of the lake because of extensive poaching. We all walked a bit away from the lake through the large iguanas to a sulphur spring pool, which looked exceptionally blue and clear but algae thrived on the bottom and walls of the pool.
The whole group went to Los Clavellinas and I assisted the other students with their projects. I managed to finally get to talk with Lisa about the geological history of the region, previous work in the area and the specifics of this project. I suggested a theory about the sequence of events that could produce what we see in the stratigraphic record and how it is influenced by the ITCZ (intertropoical convergence zone). She seemed interested in my idea, but I’ll have to see if the data supports my theories.
Neil wanted to go scout a site on the other side of the lake that we briefly visited on Day 4, but the day was getting on and the plan had been to get to a phone so everyone could call home. Because now only the van that stayed at Los Clavellinas would be going to the phone, and there was only so much room in that van, a group of people had to forgo that opportunity and travel to the other side of the lake with Neil. So Neil, Al, Pam, Kelsey, Sarah and I started traveling to the far side of the lake but we quickly ran into a military presence in one town and they demanded to see our passports. Neil and Al did not have their passports and men armed with fully automatic rifles instructed us to pull into their military complex.
They asked us some questions, but Kelsey only knew some basic Spanish from high school, and communication was difficult. They ordered us out of the van and told us to line up, all the while Kelsey was trying to explain the nature of our presence in the Dominican Republic . I was certain they were looking for an excuse to search our van and take what they like, or were fishing for a bribe. No one was listening to my insistence that my passport was in the van and, frustrated, I went back into the van to get it. Sarah, the only other person to have a passport with them, followed me to get hers. Upon showing the passports to the officer they seemed to lighten up and eventually sent us on our way. Kelsey translated their parting words as they would ‘spare us this time’.
We finally got to our site of interest and were swarmed by mosquitoes, so many in fact that field work would not be feasible without pants and long sleeved shirts. Fortunately, we found no outcrops of particular importance and would not have to return. On our way around the lake back to Descubierta we ran into a torrential downpour like I had never seen before, slowing our progress in the winding elevated roads. Lucky for us all the roads were paved and we did not have to worry about getting stuck in mud.
We got back late and had little time to review our days work before supper. I went to bed early, as usual, to get as much sleep as possible before the animals began their morning chorus. As it turned out it rained almost every night from that night on, which helped drown out the sounds of the night.