Central America 1995/1996
 
almirante In 1995 and 1996 I took advantage of living in Costa Rica and made several trips to neighboring countries.  In April 1995 I visited western Panama, and collected spiders near Caldera, a small village near Boquete. Then I flew over the mountains to the Caribbean side and visited Bocas del Toro Island.

Three months later, in July 1995 I made a trip into Nicaragua, visited Rivas, Lago Nicaragua, Matagalpa and the beautiful Selva Negra forest.

copancopan

In September and October 1996 I made a longer trip to Guatemala, Honduras, and again Nicaragua. Like on the previous trips, I mostly used local busses, and thus spent a total of 84 hours in these unforgettable vehicles, usually overloaded with people and things destined for the market or brought from there, street-vendors selling drinks, sweets, and bakeries at the numerous stops, men of god trying to preach louder than the music and the traffic’s noise and fitting their sermon exactly between two stops, aching backs and bottoms, sweat and bumpy streets, good talks with people you never met before and will never meet again.
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 ixobelrio_escondido

panajachel

My first collecting site was famous Panajachel at Lake Atitlan; next I moved on to the gorgeous hot springs at Fuentes Georginas near Zunil, and flew over to Peten and visited the impressive pyramids at Tikal. On the way back to the capital I stopped at Finca Ixobel near Poptun, a place so close to Eden I would have wished to just stay there.

I crossed the border to Honduras near Copan, another place with beautifully preserved Maya sculptures, went on to the Caribbean coast at Tela, where I collected at Lancetilla, flew over to Roatan Island, where I briefly exchanged the alcohol vials with snorkeling gear. Maybe the biologically most amazing place I saw in Honduras was La Tigre National Park, a beautiful and enchanting forest at about 2000m above sea level.

bluefields
In Nicaragua I took a boat to Bluefields, in the hope that farther away from Manaus I would rather find remnants of forests, but Hurricane Joan had indeed left very little forest in Zelaya Sur. In Bluefields it was Carnival time, with strong black men disguised as white women with beautifully crafted masks, children completely in red as little devils, a fierce looking wolf and a monkey, and all the people drinking beer in the unbearable heat of around noon.

The spiders collected during these trips have been the basis for several publications, two dealing with the taxonomic status of Hedypsilus and Micromerys respectively, one on the genus Modisimus in Costa Rica and neighboring countries, another one specifically on pholcids from Guatemala and Honduras, and one paper on genital mechanics of some species I had taken with me alive. The taxonomic papers were the beginning of all the studies on pholcid systematics I have done ever since.