Tuesday, May 3, 2016

A Muddy Situation by Robert Haemmerle

In our final stay at La Selva Biological Station we dove into our research projects (some more literally than others as you'll read in a little bit).  My group and I decided to take on the issue of antibiotic resistance in livestock, a topic with serious implications in both the agricultural sector and public health.  This included interviewing local cattle farmers and taking samples of cow poop and water sources on their property – a seemingly straightforward task.
We arrived at the first farm and were met by a kind man who started throwing around jokes from the first "Hola, pura vida!".  Throughout the interview, he continued to poke fun at both himself and us (the young foreign researchers).  Upon finishing the survey, he brought us to the pasture where the cows were grazing and showed us a little pond from which we could take a water sample.
We approached the pond, and eager to collect the first sample, I took two confident steps toward the pond. I would have loved to take two more steps, but unfortunately my boots were not going anywhere except further into the mud.  I sank and sank until the mud was just over my boots. 
Stuck in the mud!
After struggling to get out on my own, the farmer and the research team worked together to pull me to solid ground.  However, my boots did not make it out with me. The suction of the mud would not release them, so I was forced to dig them out barehanded.
My boots are in here somewhere...
A couple of minutes later, I was reunited with my boots and finally ready to continue collecting the samples, but not without some lighthearted jokes from the farmer.  We continued to work hard (and a little smarter) throughout the next two weeks.  We spent many hours on the farms and in the lab in order to take full advantage of the opportunity to conduct our own research project.  It was an experience that will serve me very well in the future, providing important research skills and (thanks to my research partners who happily filmed my fall) a funny video to show the family back home. 

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