Off to Colombia for a Year

By Nikki Roach, GWC associate conservation scientist (re-purposed from Nikki’s blog)

Moving is a pain. Lots of people do it, nobody likes it. I’ve moved five times in the last five years (California, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Texas) and now, yet again, I am moving to Santa Marta, Colombia.

Santa Marta, Colombia, the oldest South American city and the crown jewel of eco-tourism on the Caribbean coast of Colombia, offers it all. You can bird in the mountain in the morning and have a sundowner on the beach that evening. With all this topographical variation (it is the world’s tallest coastal mountain range after all, rising 0 to 5,700 meters in less than 50 kilometers), there are a lot of weather extremes, making packing even more difficult.

In Santa Marta the summer of 2016.

I received a Fulbright Fellowship, meaning I will live and work in Colombia for a year, collecting my dissertation data—looking for frogs in the jungle. My research focuses on conservation planning for threatened species by attempting to assess species distribution, abundance and vulnerability to land use and climate change impacts, using a mixture of modeling and field-based data. So while I work to address the vulnerability of frogs to climate change, I will traverse from city to jungle on a frequent basis, meaning, what on Earth do I pack?!

It took me about a week to pack, really. What do you bring abroad for one year? When looking for frogs, I wear quick dry pants and long shirts. I often rely on layers because I work in a cloud forest and it is sunny one minute and then pouring rain 10 minutes later. So, I needed to bring rain and down jackets, hiking boots, lots of socks, hats, sunscreen, bug spray, the whole works. But when I am living on the beach, I need a whole different set of clothing. Back in Texas, after a lot of re-arranging and assistance from friends saying “no, no, no,” I managed to pack two bags that are about 50 pounds each, and a backpacking pack.

Here’s what that process looked like:

(Check back as the Wild World Blog follows Nikki’s adventures and work in Colombia)

About the Author

Nikki Roach

Nikki Roach

Nikki Roach is a GWC associate conservation scientist and a conservation biologist. She is a Ph.D. student at Texas A&M University, where her research focuses on conservation planning for threatened species through assessments of species distribution, abundance and vulnerability to land use and climate change impacts, using a mixture of modeling and field-based data. For the next year she will be collecting her dissertation data in Colombia on a Fulbright Fellowship.

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