It’s Friday at 12:30pm. I leave for Peru at 8:30am on Tuesday. You’d think I’d be better prepared for this, a crucial trip for my doctoral dissertation (and my career).
As for the actual work, I still haven’t decided on sample points for my study, which I need to make my field log books. I’ve put that off as long as humanly possible. And seem to be putting it off even longer by writing this post. What do I mean by sample points?
Protocol: Walk to previously selected point on map according to GPS data. Take records – text, photo and video – of what the environment at that point looks like (flora, fauna, soil, geology, urban structures, etc). Every few points or so, ask guide or local person what the environment looked like 5/10/25 years prior. Document this as well. Repeat this approximately 20-25 times per day, covering an area approximately 40 square km per day.
So today I’m attempting to select my points, print the maps and get the GPS data for each and every one of the 400+ sample points. It is far more labor intensive than it sounds. Also, if I pick the wrong ones, I will have inaccurate models. Picking the wrong points and being robbed are pretty much the things I fear most about this trip, and I’m really not that worried about being robbed.
Other things I’ve procrastinated on? I need to permethrin treat my clothes. Permethrin is a pesticide chemical. Ever bought a Columbia or North Face shirt that said “insect blocker” on the tag? They most likely impregnated the fabric with permethrin or another chemical in the same class. I buy bottles of permethrin and spray it on all of the clothes I wear in foreign countries where malaria and dengue are rampant. You get the clothes damp with the permethrin spray, let it air dry, and you have a good insect block on those clothes for 10-12 washes. And yes, there is a very noticeable difference in the number of mosquitoes that land on me between my permethrin treated clothes and my non-treated clothes.
This morning I went in to my personal favorite travel clinic in town. I really hate waiting the 4 weeks it takes to get an appointment at the University travel clinic (and I also find the doctors there condescending). At Concentra, I don’t need an appointment and can get the entire appointment over with in less than 75 minutes – including getting any vaccines I need. Another reason I like the clinic I use – they don’t treat me like I’m an idiot. The doc I saw today asked the standard doctorly “so what are you here for?” question, to which I responded “I’m 20 months away from my last Typhim Vi and need to get a scrip for 42 Malarone and 2 single dose treatments of Cipro”. I think he was just expecting “I’m going to Peru.” He chuckled, checked out my yellow card and immediately switched into treating me like a international public health professional (I have been everywhere and I’m vaccinated against literally everything except rabies, anthrax and smallpox). We then discussed the pros and cons of getting single dose treatments of ciprofloxacin versus single dose treatments of azithromycin. I walked out, re-vaccinated against typhoid with my scrips in hand 65 minutes after I walked in.
I think maybe I’m just too used to international travel. I’ve spent like 12 weeks in Peru over the past 2 years. Not to mention 4 weeks in Kenya, 3 weeks in Jamaica, 6.5 weeks in India…. all in the past 2.5 years and most of that time was spent in middle-of-nowhere places… Sadly, this is still not enough international travel for me. Am I weird?