For the past couple of years, my annual business plan has included a somewhat vague, but very important, goal: Travel to two interesting locations for stories. I shamelessly swiped the idea from Emily Sohn [bio], who has trekked through many exciting places for her stories.
From the beginning, my plan for a career in science journalism included lots of travel. And it’s worked out, to an extent. But now I have a youngster at home. In recent years, I had begun to think it would be impossible to head into the field for a story. But then I wrote down the goal. And once I did, the adventures began.
I snapped this photo last year, at the end of a ten-day stay in Guyana. I spotted this ramshackle house near Georgetown, the below-sea-level capital city, during an unplanned day off while I waited for my flight home. I had spent most of my trip in the rainforest, capturing bats, birds, and bugs, and urging every rod and cone in my eyes to spot a jaguar. Or a tapir. Or a giant black caiman. Instead I got an electric eel, howler monkeys, toucans, and false-vampire bats. And a possible sighting of a bush dog. Not too shabby. We slept in hammocks, showered with buckets of river water, and pooped into a makeshift loo in the forest. (Intrepid scientists could donate their byproducts to the dung beetle capture program.) At least two stories will come of that trip: One for Science News for Kids, another for Discover.
In truth, the trip was a bit of a gamble. I committed to going without the guarantee of an assignment. But I was confident that stories would come out of it. It was a rare opportunity to spend time shadowing scientists in an intact rainforest that had recently been at the center of a deal between Guyana and Norway. Most of all, I knew it would calm some of the growing wanderlust I had accumulated and would revive the storytelling side of my career. And, coupled with another reporting trip I made a month later, I met one of my business goals.