Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Bunnies and boating

Easter came and went. Fremont paid its respects the way you'd expect: with bunnies.

I myself kept it low key, spending Saturday running errands and cleaning my apartment before eventually curling up in my armchair with season one of The Walking Dead on DVD and a reasonable amount of Easter candy. Nice and quiet, albeit perhaps not the most exhilarating.

Easter Day offered more excitement as I got to visit one of Lake Union's amazing houseboats (finally!) and then cruise the lake and Lake Washington Ship Canal in a turquoise little vessel, accompanied by the lovely naiad Lia. A wonderful Sunday afternoon and evening.

Bye! (Hey bunnies, cheer up.)

Sunday, April 20, 2014


It's been more quiet here than usual lately, and you might wonder what I'm up to when I'm not blogging, i.e. about 98.7% of my waking hours. Well, I'm writing. I've been working quite hard to wrap up a scientific manuscript; my first as main author since starting in the Press Lab. It's been quite stressful at times, but I think it'll turn out rather well in the end. In addition, I've been doing a fair amount of reading and writing for a number of "extracurricular" projects I'm engaged in, at the Hutch and at Bio Ventures for Global Health, which is a non-profit organization I'm volunteering for on my spare time. In case you didn't know: I have a tendency to keep myself busy.

I've managed to do some traveling too; two weeks ago I went to St. Louis, MO, as a representative for the Fred Hutch postdocs at the National Postdoctoral Association 2014 Annual Meeting. It was intense, starting just a couple of hours after my arrival when a tornado hit the city. After that, the drama subsided but the pace was kept high with seminars, workshops, networking sessions, and social events for three days. A word of advice: if you happen to be in the area, go to City Museum; the craziest place I've ever visited.

Fun fact: in June I'll revisit this city to present my research at the 2014 Annual Meeting of the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging. A little weird though; what's up with all the Annual Meetings, St. Louis?

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Mainly Manuel Antonio

Enough with the silent treatment; let's wrap up the Costa Rica story once and for all. From Nosara we drove towards San José once more, to drop off the little one (Pedro) at the airport. Unfortunately, the three-hour drive included an almost four-hour standstill as some fishermen had decided that this particular day was a terrific day for a strike, completely blocking the main artery that Costa Rican traffic depends upon. Consequently, the four of us reached our destination about eight hours after leaving the beach. Fun for the whole family! It's marvellous how everything in this country is just three hours away by car! Marvellous.

Pedro obviously missed his flight, but got up before dawn and managed to get a seat the following day. David, Amelia, and I chilled out in the city, running errands, doing laundry, shopping and being touristy. And we had chocobananas! A lovely kids' treat made by freezing a banana, putting it on a stick, dipping it in chocolate and covering it with crushed peanuts. It looked like crap (literally) but I can certainly recommend it. If nothing else, you'll get a good laugh.

The next day, Amelia and I left David behind and went to Quepos in the province of Puntarenas. This time we decided not to venture on another alleged three-hour road trip and instead boarded a tiny airplane and swoosh! landed at our destination 30 minutes later. Nature, I'm sorry! Like, super sorry.

Ok, bygones; from Quepos we took a shuttle to Manuel Antonio, checked in at a cute hotel by the beach and hopped on a huge boat and spent the afternoon snorkeling, swimming, watching dolphins, having drinks, eating fruit, going down waterslides, socializing, and just generally having a blast.

Those red things? Life vests. We had to wear them like that to be allowed to snorkel close to the "sharp rocks". Sigh. Fortunately, these merbabes can make anything look good.

However, the main attraction was Manuel Antonio National Park, listed by Forbes as one of the world's twelve most beautiful national parks. When David joined us the following day the three of us headed out on a guided tour and spent a couple of hours in the heat walking through the lush, green paradise. It was great, but honestly, without a guide I don't think we would have seen almost any animals. Well, monkeys. Monkeys were everywhere, but the rest were very good at hiding. And to all of you who have asked me, I would like to finally say yes, WE SAW SLOTHS! Both three-toed and two-toed, one even cuddling with a baby. That's right: A BABY SLOTH. Admittedly, they were all hanging out high up in the tree tops, and even though we watched them through a spotting scope it was sometimes tricky to see more than just a big, hairy, greyish lump. But they were sloth lumps! YAY!

This photo was taken through the scope. Hello cutie!

What else did we see? I actually took notes.
  • Gladiator tree frog
  • Jesus Christ lizards (sic)
  • Giant green anole
  • Eyelash pit viper
  • Squirrel monkeys
  • White-faced monkeys
  • Black river turtle
  • Mexican hairy porcupine
  • Black-tailed iguana
  • Agoutis
  • Blue morpho menelaus butterfly
  • White ibis
  • Hermit crabs
  • Long-nosed bats
  • Brown pelicans

Naturally, we did lots of other things during our last days in the country; had fabulous meals at lovely cafés (Milagro!), met interesting people, and enjoyed ourselves immensely. But this story has to end somewhere, and I decide this is the place.

My conclusion after all this: if you ever get the chance to go to Costa Rica, do it. Ok? Ok. Also, don't trust your GPS when it says that your destination is just about three hours away.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

It's all over now, Baby Blue

Dearest Bike,

It's time to part ways. Your owner has returned to Seattle and I must let you go, no matter how much it pains me. Let's cherish the memories of time spent together; the rides, the runs, the races. The rolling hills and jolly thrills. The sun and the rain. The moon.

My darling Baby Blue. Remember me.


El Rojo Adios feat. Andreas Söderström & Titiyo - Baby Blue

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Surfin' birds and nesting dinosaurs

Our first stay in San José was very brief, to say the least. We spent the night at David's house, after having dinner and partying with his brother, sister, and friends. The next day we took off again, back to the beautiful beaches of Guanacaste. The aim was set for Nosara, just a three-hour drive from San José.

We arrived about five hours later and checked in at a hotel with a fabulous view. Pedro and I spent the late afternoon on the beach; him surfing and me reading. The waves there were something else, compared with the calm waters in Tamarindo... They looked absolutely frightening to me but it was wonderful just hanging out at the beach, watching the surfers show off their talents.

The next morning, Amelia and I took a hike on the beach and in the forest surrounding the hotel while the boys hit the waves again. They picked us up around noon and the four of us had lunch (and dessert, importantly) at Robin's Cafe & Ice Cream: a fabulous place specializing in vegetarian and vegan wholesome grub, not to mention delicious homemade ice cream. I never wanted to leave... Completely smitten! The rest of the day was equally fabulous; Amelia and I rented a couple of surfboards too, and built up the courage to attack the intimidating waves. And holy cow, was it fun! I was hurting all over afterwards; ribs beat, hips bruised, and knees scratched, but it was so worth it.

SLOTH! SLOTH! Wait... Why is it carrying a red bag...?

The evening was spent at Playa Ostional, watching sea turtles nest on the beach as the sun set. It was just one of those experiences that can't really be described. Seeing those ancient creatures emerge from the sea, lay their eggs in the sand, and then nobly return to the great blue was like seeing paleontology vivify in front of our eyes. Dinosaurs, basically. In the sunset. Words fail me... Photos are better.

This lovely lady was throwing a lot of sand my way, for instance in my face. I'm sure I deserved it.

Dig dig dig dig...

Bye, darlings!

Now what do we do? Back to San José! (It's just a three-hour drive.)