Yesterday, we met with Alberto Rivera-Gutierrez.  You can’t categorize this man, who originated from Columbia, got a PhD and taught in America, and now has thousands of acres of a nature preserve in the Atitlan basin near Panahachel. Alberto is a brilliant man who has hundreds of ideas and has implemented many of them into his reserve and way of life.  When in his presence, you feel inspired by much that he says.  He is one of those people you just want to be around.  I am so glad that I had the opportunity to meet him and listen to what he has to say.  Our conversation ranged in topics from the problems of the lake and the people’s history to Marxism.  After talking for a few hours, he showed us around part of the reserve where he has butterflies and showed us how he is taking breeding butterflies to an industry level and will sell hundreds to people for weddings and things like that. I never wanted to leave. 

After being at Alberto’s for a few hours, we went to Pana and had lunch at a pizza place, then went to this really neat coffee place called Crossroads.  Mike, the man who owns it, was an amazingly cheerful person and gave us all custom hacky sacks and our coffee for free – which was really good coffee by the way.  Meeting him made me really happy and we will definitely going back to that shop in the future.

Today, we tested the mesocosms again.  We collected samples testing the change in carbon dioxide over time that we will send to UNR for analysis. We also tested some of the chemical attributes such as the temperature, oxygen percentage and mg/L, pH, and conductivity.  We also set up filtered samples of the lake water and the mesocosm water to prepare for spectrophotometry.  We use the spec to test the samples for phosphorus concentration, which is important to know because phosphorus is a main nutrient that plants and cyanobacteria need in order to grow. All this testing took the majority of the day, so we didn’t finish until around 5:30.  Jenise and Eliska cut us free so we all walked around town until dinner.

I’m very happy I have the chance to get experience with all of this hands on lab work.  This morning Jenise gave me the opportunity to plate coliforms, so I could have practice for labs in the future.  It’s also giving me an opportunity to figure out what kind of things I like, since the program covers such a wide range of material from hard science to ecology to social science.

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