Friday, October 9, 2009

Life in the tropics.

There are some aspects of life in the tropics that are just so different from life in the temperate regions. Here there is a fungus that loves to grow on CD's. Any little tiny scratch or dent in the top surface and the fungus will get in and start to spread across the metal film on the underside of the CD. You can see it growing in a squiggly little pattern, but you can’t stop it and it slowly eats away all the music on the CD.

Also, anything made of leather or metal doesn’t really last in the tropics. As soon as the inside of the bread machine gets flour on it, the oven will start to corrode. The station goes through about one bread machine every year. I thin k they must put bread machine on their Christmas list each time.

Holidays in the tropics are interesting too. They don’t really celebrate Halloween in this part of Australia and they don’t have Thanksgiving, so they don’t have a good date to actually switch over into Christmas mode. This means that I’ve already come across Christmas gear in the strangest places. The stores have already stocked advent calendars with wintery scenes on the front, but they have to keep them in the fridge with all their other chocolate bars so that they don’t melt. Imagine going to your fridge each morning to find the correct chocolate square from an advent calendar you purchased three months in advance. Not to mention, chocolate bars, the tiny one row Dairy Milk bars, are $3.00 here. What an outrage.

Pretty much everything spoils very quickly in the tropics because there is so much moisture in the air. This is the peak of the dry season but the one compact of blush I have gained so much water that the powder just cracked and crumbled into the container. The research labs here are essentially two very large, dehumidified refrigerators. We keep all sorts of interesting scientific equipment and assorted items in them including all of the media, CD’s, tapes, video cassettes (yeah, I know), books, basically everything you want to protect from disintegrating in the next couple weeks.

People and animals move very slowly in the tropics. There aren’t really clocks here and we generally sort of start the day at 8:00 am. Nothing opens until 10:30. The cat that lives at the station is the laziest creature I have ever seen; poor thing in her little fur coat.

One very nice thing about life in the tropics though is that amazing fruits are in season all year long. Living next to a fruit orchard is the best thing in the world. I know I’ve mentioned a few of the fruits I have sampled and tonight we have a ripe durian to eat - the smelly, horrible fruit that is so popular in southeast Asia they need to have signs in public locations saying No Durians Allowed. I’m sort of scared of it, but I’ll give it a go and I’ll definitely let you know what I think!


  1. Wow, that sounds like an artifact conservation nightmare! Never mind trying to do any treatments on anything, everything must go towards proper housing and storage... climate controlled EVERYTHING, and then mold removal. Climate is crazy, are your clothes getting mildewy?

  2. Yes, it is a nightmare. Luckily this is the peak of the dry season, so we can keep things pretty dry. Each of the cabins has a clothesline along the porch so we hang everything out. Towels are the hard ones to keep the mildew out of. My travel towel is great though. Good old MEC.