Wiebke just sent the following note about her time at Lomas, as she thinks over her time there in anticipation of the project's 25th anniversary this summer:
"I joined the Lomas Barbudal Monkey Project as a field assistant in November 2003 and never expected what a profound impact the experience would have on me. I remember being quite overwhelmed by the physical demands of the job, coping with tropical heat, enduring torrential rainstorms and accepting being eaten alive by mosquitoes and chiggers. My whole body felt like tiny needles were spiking into it from the permanent heat rush and my backpack was rubbing into my shoulders as if it was trying to slowly sever my arms. In my first month I seriously doubted I would last through my one year contract.
I did last. I grew stronger and the demands of the job seemed easier. Dry season is a good time to do field work! It also turned out that I was quite skilled as a monkey observer. I found friends and genuinely fell in love with Costa Rican biodiversity. In short, I felt happy and at home in my new environment. So the girl that considered quitting in her first month came to stay ten years on the project working as data analyst, field site manager and outreach officer.
The Lomas Barbudal Monkey Project shaped me to be the person I am now. That was not always an easy or comfortable route and I made a great many mistakes along the way, but I was also lucky to enjoy the support of all the wonderful and extraordinary people I have met on the job. The army of “moneros” (as assistants of the project proudly call themselves) is a magnificent one. Every single one of these brave, tenacious and loyal men and women worked hard to make the project what it is today. 25 years of wild capuchin research is truly remarkable!
In 2013 I left the project for Britain. In the meantime I have obtained a Master’s degree in Conservation and Biodiversity from the University of Exeter where I currently work as a teaching technician. Last year I was invited to join the Board of Directors of the Wild Capuchin Foundation, so I am still in touch with development in Lomas and monkey antics (as well as hard science!). Hearing about it just is not quite the same and I hope I will have the opportunity to go visit the field site before long. I miss it dearly.
Congratulations, Lomas Barbudal Monkey Project! Wishing you many, many more anniversaries to come!