But Wait; How Did I Get There?

From James Aliberti’s first trip to Puerto Rico to work as a biologist
on The Mona Island Iguana Project:

Never a dull moment as an undergrad at UCLA. Excitement at every turn.
Whether competing to win the Marcel Marceau Mime Competition, riding a
motorcycle for the Los Angeles Olympics, or performing avant-garde
rock shows with my bands InsectAffect and Death & Taxes, it seemed my
boundless energy would catapult me through working the graveyard shift
and taking classes full-time, like an unstoppable juggernaut. Igniting
my imagination further, I learned of UREP. “Could I be a participant
in a University Research Expedition Program and see the incredible
continent of Africa?”, I pondered.

Well, as things would have it, I didn’t get selected for the African
Cheetah trip, or the Mongolian Snow Leopard trip, or any of my other
first choices, but instead, received a call from a professor at UC
Davis about going to try to save the Mona Island Iguana. “What?”, I
recall yelling into the landline rotary-dial phone. “A lizard?! Where
the hell is Mona?”

Six months later, I was on a plane to San Juan, Puerto Rico; for I was
to be their “Gunga Din”. Since I had been running track for 9 years
and had played football for 7, they figured I’d be fit enough to
assure that they had plenty of water for the 95-degree heat and 90%
humidity in the shadeless cactus forest, …but that story, is for
a future blog.

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