Ensconced at last in Casa de Sousa

G’day, dear readers! I’m writing you, finally, from Exmouth, Western Australia! I arrived here yesterday morning, settled my stuff into the house, and hit the water on the Team Sousa boat for my first survey effort. But I’ll talk more about that stuff later when I’m not quite so pooped.

For now, here’s a quick summary of my journey here:
After lovely brunchy dumplings with the family, we headed for the airport and unloaded my bags. I waved goodbye to my parents (on their own for at least a week- how novel!) and sat around, as one does in airports. The first leg of the flight took me from San Francisco to Seoul, where I posted a Facebook update and re-boarded the same plane to Singapore. In Changi Airport in Singapore I languished for seventeen hours, which is frankly a bizarre amount of time for a layover- from 2 am until 7 pm I had to try (and for the most part fail) to sleep in the quietest chairs I could find, amuse myself in the enormous shopping sections of the three terminals, re-read the documents for our field research, and take the most boring city tour to have ever lulled tourists into unexpected naps. In the process of becoming intimately familiar with Changi Airport, however, I realized the genius in their marketing strategy. Every photo, as evidenced below, will be of the flowers, butterfly garden, koi ponds, or statuary, causing people to recall their airport experience as actually pleasant.

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How could a person look at a pond like that and remember that at the time of seeing it, they hadn’t slept for more than an hour at a time in 30 hours? And how else to soothe the wandering and overwhelmed biologist than confront her with this?

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Anyways, Changi Airport had its obvious upsides and its inconvenient downsides (torrential rain outside limiting escape potential, for example) but was overall probably the best place that a person could spend seventeen hours in as a traveling sleep deprived mess. And the city tour was free, so I ought not to complain.

I flew from Changi to Perth, where I struggled at 3 am to find the correct terminal, and from Perth to Learmonth on a small place filled with oil rig workers returning from leave (while chatting, I mentioned to the most gregarious of the men that I had been in Australia for approximately three hours and nothing had tried to bite me yet; he informed me that it was mostly the people I ought to watch out for, although if I hadn’t yet seen any big hairy spiders I could be assured that they’d seen me). And finally at Learmonth, I met Tim (the Boss, the skipper, our intrepid leader, the PhD student leading our adventures).

I promise, he did ask if I’d rather not go out on the boat that day. I think he could see in my eyes that I was near-delirious with being tired, but I knew that if I stopped moving for any significant period of time I’d pass out and be jet-lagged for days as a result, so I put on my game face, we sunscreened up, and headed for the outer reef of the North West Cape. More on that and the rest of the project tomorrow- for now, I’m safe and fed and sleepy all over again. Happy to be in the company of biologists, photographers, dancers, singers, chefs, SCUBA divers, and all-around fun human beings- Kaja, Tim, Cindy and Karl, and Tim’s family whose names I unfortunately do not yet know how to spell- this is Agent Red Squirrel, signing off.

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Stay Tuned!

Gentle readers, I am off to Australia tomorrow (via Singapore, long flight, long story) and will be posting updates as I can (as internet access allows). Expect fun photos of dolphins, maybe whale sharks, other South Pacific fauna, and kangaroos!