Saturday, 8 November 2014

Shipping out

So we've reached our last day in Brazil, for now. We took the overnight boat from Brevez to Belem, which was an adventure in itself. 14 hours up river, with decks of colourful hammocks slung from every available piece of metal. We had small cabins - comfortable enough despite the tiny bunks and freezing a/c. Better than a hammock though!

Hammocks on the boat from Brevez to Belem.
I watched the sun rise over the river and we made our way off the docks to the hotel, with all our cargo still in tact. Minus the target poles, which we left behind for Alex to use to mark the plots in the forest. We managed to lose/break only about 5 or 6 poles out of 70-odd, which is pretty good going and a testament to Lucy's organisation with the pole layout. That's been a very valuable experience in terms of the registration - we now know how to do this much more effectively than we did before, and how more poles isn't necessarily better. Systematic is the way to go.
Sunrise heading towards to Belem.
We've had a couple of days in Belem, doing some sightseeing - the old colonial parts of the city remain, slightly run down, but with some spectacular architecture including the old cathedral, the Theatre of Peace and the fort. We lucked out with the Theatre - after taking a tour we were given free tickets for a Richard Strauss concert that night. It was really beautiful, and a very strange contrast after getting off the boat from the remote jungle that morning, to sitting in a 19th C concert hall listening to Viennese waltzes.

Fresco on the ceiling of the Theatre de Paz, Belem.

Cathedral in Belem.
Our last thing to do was go to the Institute of Geoscience at UFPA, the University Federal do Para, to see Prof. Lola Da Costa, the driving force behind the Caxiuana experiment. Lola has been working at Caxiuana for more than 20 years, and is the reason the experiment exists, and has survived various funding threats over the years. We showed Lola some of early results from the scanning, and he was excited about the prospects of what we can do with data to elucidate links between structure and physiology. We're all extremely grateful for Lola's help in organising our trip and I'm sure we'll be back.
Pro. Da Costa with Lucy, outside the best fried fish place in town.
Lola took us for dinner on our last night at a small fish place - only thing on the menu was fried fish and prawns, and it was amazing. Some great local Para musicians were playing, (many) beers were drunk and it was a fitting finale for our trip to Brazil. Andy and I chatted about the tasks ahead for processing the lidar data - we worked out that we think we can do the registration much more efficiently, which would be hugely time-saving. Our idea needs needs testing but I don't know why we didn't think of it before - better late than never though eh?