Victor Valley College Tropical Research Initiative
Herpetofauna of Timor-Leste
Baucau, Baucau District
We were based at the Albergaria for several days so and set up out field lab and photographic studio on the verandah.
Since Paulo has worked with Laca, Zito and Luis (the Jets) he was already conversant with the generic names of many species, ie. Carlia, Sphenomorphus, Cyrtodactylus, and he could identify them to genus with ease. Caitlin then took him under her wing and showed him how to remove the liver of a specimen for later DNA analysis, prior to fixing the specimen in formalin which would destroy any remaining DNA. When asked to repeat the task himself he showed considerable adeptness.
Caitlin shows Paulo how to remove
liver samples for DNA
Paulo is a fast learner
The team at work (l-r) Sven, Paulo, Caitlin, Andrew
Hinrich taking notes
Mark taking the photographs
When work was done we would visit the Restaurant Benfica although I had to bring my own all-essential vinegar for the chips.
Lunch at Restaurant Benfica
The team with the all important vinegar
For uploading the "Expedition Field Notes" blog or picking up emails we visited "The Media Centre", an unassuming but popular place in Baucau with a few tables and chairs, some internet connections and PCs. It cost $1 an hour to use the facilities with your own laptop.
Baucau "internet cafe" or Media Centre
We were also able to do a little shopping. Andrew decided to try chewing betel-nut, or buai as I know it from Papua New Guinea. We bartered for betel-nuts, the mustard stick and the lime in the market and when we got back to the hotel he set about trying it out, ending up with a red-stained mouth and a slight buzz but a horrid after-taste. I did not say I recommended buai.
Sven decided to pass up his opportunity to partake.
Andrew with his stash of bettle-net, mustard stick and lime, Sven looks on
The end result, a red mouth, hardly worth the effort
From Baucau we made forays to Venilale and Afraicaimau (the "Carlia Spot") as well as Ossu over the 1000 m saddle between the mountains in Viqueque District. At Ossu we sought out the chefe de suco to obtain permission to do research in his area. We also recruited a guide so that we could investigate Mt Mundo Perdido (the "lost world" mountain), with a peak at 1748 m. Then we returned to Baucau.