Thursday, February 26, 2009

Guerrero Negro Part 5: The Process

We woke up early, had breakfast, and geared up to head to our last capture site of the trip. Everyone had been happy, well-fed, upbeat, and the entire trip went off without a hitch thus far. Which, of course, means that we were due for a snag. And that came in the form of an untimely flat tire.

The Isuzu Trooper that we spent most of the journey in, the same vehicle that Roberto and Victor broke down in on the way from La Paz, had held up fairly well since the breakdown. Despite Roberto's ballsy driving, not shying away from the nastiest of dirt roads or tight corners, we had yet to experience any issues once the car actually made it to Guerrero Negro. It was a miracle that a flat tire was all that was to come. Although "flat" wasn't terribly accurate.

More like shredded.

The sight of what once was our tire was fairly disconcerting, until I realized what our 'new' tire looked like. I envisioned driving on tacks with an inner tube, and feared plunging into a ravine somewhere, mounds of salt preserving my rotting corpse. To my delight, it held up nicely, and I didn't have to worry about seagulls picking at my remains.

After changing the flat with the bare minimum tools to do so (I took the lug nuts off, thank you very much) we hopped in our cars and back down the road.

On the day of the last capture, I decided to remain out of the fray to at least try and capture some of the process on video. While it doesn't convey the true chaos and adrenaline, it gives you an idea of what happens right before the net fires, through the events of the data circle.

This particular day didn't quite go as planned (I found that is usually the case.) We had barely decided on a spot for capture, and were merely hoping for success rather than expecting it.

We had all rounded up and were put in three groups. One group was to walk across the net area to the other side of the dike we were on, one group was to stay close behind the detonation point, and one would remain on the near side of the dike's edge.

I was placed in the first group, and we were all headed out to cross the net area when birds started pouring in unexpectedly. Everyone dropped to the ground where they were at and waited, nobody even close to their intended positions. Victor, chief net detonator, actually had to crawl military style to get to the detonator. Very covert. It was a stroke of luck, but one that came before we were ready.

The videos (two of them, due to photobucket restrictions) begin from there, and they sum up the few hours to follow, from the birds arriving, the net being fired on through the end of the capture day:

Once we got back to the bunkhouse and washed up, Bridget and I went out shopping. We ended up buying some delicious snacks and some Oso Negro vodka (which came with a set of bonus Stanley screwdrivers, which I hope Bridget has put to good use around her house) and we proceeded to drink it with mango and pineapple juice. That lead to the bigger expedition of late night pool playing. Those of us who were still standing headed out to karaoke until, if I recall correctly, close to 4am. And yes, I sang. And also yes, it was in spanish.

Needless to say, it was difficult to wake up the next morning. We all had a final breakfast together in the bunkhouse dining room and said our goodbyes. It was so great to meet and work with all of those people, and sad to say goodbye.

We headed out on our 2-day drive home, stopping in a town on the other side of the Baja coast to look for a lost bird transmitter. More on that, and the last installment of Guerrero Negro, entitled Liquor and Produce (courtesy of Bridget), to follow soon.


cae said...

I really do need to get out of the house more. And not just vicariously, as with this - thanks! Really enjoying coming along with you ...

redwithenvy said...

you know that i read your blog. and it's extremely flattering to have you enjoy mine. you have gifts that i do not, and never will. thank you for reading/watching ;)