At the beginning of December, I had the opportunity to attend a conference being held in Cartagena, Colombia. I was asked by the organizers of a special symposium entitled “Parental Care in Anurans” to give a talk on my recent work on parental care in glass frogs. Getting out of Ohio in December, to go to the tropics? How could I say no?
When I left gray Cleveland it was 29 degrees Fahrenheit. When I landed in colorful Cartagena, it was 88 degrees. The city (and my hotel) was hard on the beachfront , looking out onto the blue Caribbean. The conference itself was the IV Congreso Colombiano de Zoologia (the Fourth Colombian Congress of Zoology). It had three official languages: English, Spanish and Portuguese and had attendees from all over Central and South America (as well as a few of us norteamericanos). Though I speak a bit of Spanish, it has been long since I used it much. So, I gave my talk in English with Spanish on my slides. Many others did similarly, which allowed more people to follow the science either by reading or by listening. My talk was well-received and I heard impressive work from many other colleagues. We all went to lunch at a traditional Colombian restaurant to discuss our science further and enjoy excellent food and music.
Across the street from the convention center is the old city. And by old, I mean founded in 1533 old. The walls of the old Spanish citadel are still intact and inside are wide brick plazas, and vendors selling all manner of goods in the narrow, crooked alleys. One has to walk in through the famous clock tower and was a wonderful place to explore on lunch breaks.
Several of the nearby parks were also interesting spots to sit and watch ordinary Colombians have their midday meal. In the parks I also found mating green iguanas, some shrieking monkeys, and birds galore (from snowy egrets to grayish saltators). A successful and enjoyable trip. I would be happy if my travels someday took me back to Colombia to explore some more of this diverse country. But for now I will just try to hold on to some of that tropical heat to help me get through the winter.