Saturday, October 16, 2010

La Quinta Totaices (Home)

La Quinta has been home to the Titi Monkey Project since January of 2007. It is a grand structure with 9 rooms, 4 of which have en suite bath, a communal kitchen and recreation room, swimming pool, large central courtyard, and this doesn't include the master suite or separate quarters of the King and Queen themselves, Steffen and Yuvinka. It is also equipped with wireless internet, although painfully slow at times, which makes having a "normal" or connected life possible. It is located in the city of Santa Cruz proper with an easy 10 minute movil (taxi) or micro (bus), perhaps a tad longer, ride to city center for food or entertainment. This is certainly not your typical field project set up, and part of the reason why we like it so much.

We commute to our field sites (Jardin Botanico and Yvaga Guazu) each morning by radio movil (taxi). It is roughly a 25 minute trip to the sites and we return home via trufi (communal taxi) or micro. The bus ride home is perhaps the least enjoyable part of the day, as it takes ages due to traffic, is hot, and often overcrowded, standing room only in many cases. Nonetheless, we know that the comforts of home await us- long shower or perhaps a dip in the pool.

The amenities are only part of the picture. It is the atmosphere... something special, something intangible. There are a set of "house rules"(e.g., your dishes must be dried and put away, don't leave dirty glasses or dishes in the common area, please remember to fill ice trays). But, it is governed by something else.... RESPECT and simply the notion of being nice. A friend of mine described it as a "commune" or "hippie hang-out." I suppose that is a fair representation but I see it more like a home full of brothers and sisters. It is a house of incredible diversity, 5 nationalities here at the moment and 3 languages regularly spoken (English, Spanish and German). The living arrangement demands patience and tolerance for individual and cultural differences. Selfishness is not tolerated in these circumstances and those who can not play by the rules are simply asked to leave, fortunately this has only occurred on a few occasions. Most find comfort and peace in the brother/sisterhood found at Totaices.

In sum, Totaices is more than the sum of its parts as it certainly has emergent properties, like any complex system. To us, however, it is home, a place of solace, and incredible memories. A refuge for strays, like myself, and those that love or at least tolerate us.

Thank you Steffen and Yuvinka for opening your home to us and making this project possible.