Written by Megan Tanlimco, a Conservation Science resident, pictured above.
I came to A Rocha as a break from school, where my time was governed by lectures, assignments, and exams. Rather than the start of new courses and constantly approaching exams, this season began with planting leeks and choosing projects and will end with presentations and a final harvest of the term. Rather than beginning and ending the day according to to-do lists, the days began with birdsong and ended with the sounds of chorus frogs. In reality, a lot of the time it was waking up to my housemates’ alarms and falling asleep to an electric fan, but there is something nice about that too.
There was plenty of waiting involved in following the timing of creation. For my project I spent a good portion of the summer waiting for the Western Toads to make their next move. We waited for fresh veggies to grow and for wild berries to ripen.
Surveys and other conservation work were all planned around the timing of whatever we were studying. That meant some early work days for hummingbirds, some late work days for turtles, and a few days of missing community lunch for crab trapping at low tide.
Sometimes, the sun was a good clock. Some mornings it served as an alarm clock, although it was usually a little too early. On music nights and other evenings at the main site, the sky turning a certain purplish blue was my cue to start heading across the river before it got too dark. If I missed that, I waited for others to walk with.
So even the schedules of the people around me were woven somehow into my own. Outside of scheduled events, this often took the form of having breakfast with the farmers before they started their early work day. Though few words were exchanged at such an early hour, I enjoyed seeing everyone in the morning.
So, to answer the question in the most literal way possible, my time at A Rocha was governed by the timing of the environment around me, both human and non-human. My routines were rooted in the connectedness of both ecological and human communities. I hope that in some small ways, this way sticks with me as I return to a busy student life.
Find out more about our Tatalu Conservation Residency program here, and get in touch with us for more information.