Riiiiinnggggg, riiiingggg! Sounds the alarm clock, it’s 9:00 and another Monday begins as a volunteer in this piece of land floating in the Atlantic.
Wake up, Marcel! You wash your face, you wear comfortable clothes, and going to the kitchen for breakfast a bowl of cereal, with swollen eyes like tomatoes. -Good morning Marta! Hello Miriam! (Your roommates are being completed to arrange to go to the SPEA office, where you work all three as volunteers). You throw a couple of fruits in a bag, go out of the house and you throw downhill walking, through streets steep as hell. Five minutes later you are in the office (which in Portuguese we say “desktop” because “office” means “garage”). Cátia has come before you, and Isabel does five minutes later. Up to date, you are all plugged into the computers doing things.
You look at the weekly planning: today is time to computering the data you gathered last week. You get to it. There is nothing exciting but is a complementary activity to the field work, and you must do it. Around 11 you get the street to take a garoto (a cofee) and sometimes a bolo de nata (an irresistible sugar bomb harmless-looking pastry), while trying to talk in Portuguese with the owner of bar, a woman who spent six years in Venezuela as an immigrant. You go back to the office and still moving data. About 13:30 is lunchtime. The girls have brought food from home in a tupperware, but you prefer to go to college bar because it is very close, and because they serve a full menu for € 2.45, but you had to impersonate student. A vegetable soup, chicken baked with pasta and salad, juice, yogurt and bread later, back to work. As you still have a couple of hours ahead, you do to inquire about possible topics to write, and to contact individuals or associations to which you want to interview, in order to create the two weekly articles for Island Shake. At 17 finish and have the afternoon off.
The next day is time to do bird census from the airport control tower. In teams of two or three, and equipped with binoculars and telescope, the census is to be doing a visual sweep of the entire land and air space near the airport and runway to detect birds and record their behavior in a table. The first 15 minutes of every hour for six hours, someone observe and says out loud, while other points: -Two seagulls, flying low, east-west across the runway M-sector, or – A blackbird perched on a fence, without interaction with the track at the K29 grid. Meanwhile, another team of two people walking the grassy area parallel to the runway, collecting samples of insects that swarm there, and they are the food of birds.
The next day, you shall bring the bugs that have picked up to a small laboratory in the forest, and you will analyze under a microscope to see if they are of a particular species. This is a job a little complicated for someone inexperienced like you, as there are a lot of different insects in each sample, some of them really small and hard to distinguish from each other. Luckily, two of your teammates are biologists, and with his help and a manual, you’ll learn to classify them into families.
Next month you will travel by boat to Porto Santo for performing these same activities for 12 hours a day at the airport on the neighboring island. You’ll sleep in a hostel for young people and will cook your own food. And who knows, with a little luck also get surf in the white sand beach and 9 km long …
But, for now, keep working!