Friday, April 17, 2009

Friday Fantasy - Ecuadorian Equinox Part 1

Previously posted Sept. 21, 2007

It was another morning cappuccino at the Foundation for Understanding Nature in Bethseda, Maryland. I, Sue Fairview, looked down at the swirl of foam on my double and went off to look for Mr. Butterfly. I found him at his desk in his cubicle; we all have cubicles even though we have PhD’s. What ever happened to doors? I gave a gentle knock on his off white fuzzy fake wall. He was so engrossed at looking at the Lepidoptera on his desk; he didn’t even give me notice. I cleared my throat. Finally I had his attention.

“You want to grab a latte and go to the café?”

“Sure Sue!”

With that he stood and off we went towards the node, where the small coffee stand was. He bought his from the attendant, who had substituted a photo of Greta Garbo for her own on her photo ID without security noticing, and we found some seats in the airy atrium space.

“Gosh it has been so long since our trip to the Nile, what has it been, three months?”

He said “I think so. My luggage is feeling ignored. It has never been this long since between trips before.”

“What do you think is going on?”

“I don’t know. We keep running into trouble when they send us out. That could be it.”

“Yeah, I guess. In the Amazon, we both had a spot of trouble, in Iceland we ran into that nutcase who took me hostage, and then in Egypt, you know the harem thing.”

“I remember. But each time they send us out, we still come home with results. I mean in the Amazon, we came home with a possible cure for HIV, we did a great job in Iceland, and in Egypt, we verified the finding of a new water strider species. I’d say that is success. Wouldn’t you?”

“Yup! I don’t know what they are thinking. But, I think it has been long enough, and we should ask.”

“I agree!”

Just then, Dr. Gutekunde strode up and joined them. “Hey, how are my two favorite field scientists?”, he said, giving Mr. Butterfly a hard slap on the back.

“We were just wondering when we were going to see the field again.”, said Mr. Butterfly as he recovered from the slap. “And how are you Dr. Gutekunde? And how is our pet compound?”

“Ah, I am well thank you! Not to worry, you two will be back in the field before you know it! We have a special trip planned for both of you. But first and update on our compound. The scale up is going well and I don’t think the difficult synthesis step will be a problem. The safety studies were begun on time and should be completed in three months. No significant safety issues have been noted so far. Human protocols are written and we should be first in man by then. Try to think of name for it. So it is all good news for the compound.”

“That’s great Doc!”, I said.

Mr. Butterfly smiled and nodded. “Hmm. A name, I’ll have to think about that. ‘Mr. Butterfly’s HIV cure-all and lube’ How does that sound?”, he said jokingly.

“Very funny.” And I gave him a finger poke in the ribs.

“Ow!”, he said comically.

Dr. Gutekunde just smiled at our antics.

“Now,” he said, “for your next assignment. So, have you been studying up on new orchid species Dr. Fairview?”

“Why yes. Do you mean the ones in Papua New Guinea or the ones in Ecuador or the stinky feet ones in Yosemite?”

“Hmm. Actually I was referring to the ones in Ecuador. If I sent you to Papua New Guinea, you would never come back. They have 300 or so plants to go through over there. No, no, you guys are going to Ecuador!”

“Oh boy! I’m going to get to see Teagueia in their native habitat!”

“Yes, that’s true.”

“And me?”, said Mr. Butterfly.

“You my boy are going to get a look at the rare butterflies and moths of the cloud forests of the Andes. So pack your photographic equipment because you are going there too!”

“Oh boy!”, we said in unison.

* * *

Several days later, the trip was shaping up. Our flights were set with American Airlines from Baltimore to Atlanta to Quito and we would arrive in Quito in the morning the day after we left. Our team of nine in all would be assembled and ready to meet us at a small town near our base camp. Our native guide, Jose, would meet us at the airport.

So it was, that we would be in Quito, Ecuador on the Autumnal Equinox.


Thonnibg said...

I remember that episode.Esp that cappuccino part is still in my mind.
The Ecuadorian Equinox was quite adventerous.I would love to go thru it again.

Sue said...

Your wish is my command Toni!

Anonymous said...

Yay for the coffee attendant covertly adding a little spice to her day!