Trip Start Aug 31, 2007
Trip End Jun 02, 2008

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Flag of Ecuador  ,
Saturday, November 17, 2007

Sooo.... I went to see my future possible placement on Thursday.  And I came back to Quito extremely happy because this place is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to, the man organizing it is really awesome and easy to get along with, and the projects that he is involved with are many and diverse, and I can do pretty much what I want, what I'm interested in.. (there's the introduction)

My flight was at 7 am, on Thursday, so I went to Quito to stay in a hostal overnight wednesday.  It was the first time that I felt like I was actually travelling by myself, the first time in a hostal by myself, and felt very independent I guess, as corny as that sounds.  I was able to do everything I needed to do in Spanish, and got to the airport on time (!!) Flew to the coast with Maria the project coordinator, and were driven by Taxi from Manta to Bahia, about an hour drive.  Bahia was pretty beautiful, it's on this point, full of whitewashed appartment buildings, a large port with sailboats as it is just south of where the southern current stops following the coast and then turns west to the galapagos.  If you look on a map Bahia is the point of alarge estuary, where in the middle there are a bunch mangrove islands, across the estuary is San Vicente, which you can get to by ferry, and 15 minutes north is the popular surfing area of Canoa. 

We ate ceviche, a popular seafood dish and hangover cure of the coast which is essentially fresh seafood (oysters, squid, shrimp, fish, scallops) in a limey juice with tomatoes, cilantro, red onion, green pepper.. served cold with fried plantain. Then took awalk with Marcelo the guy who heads Cerro Seco to Cerro Seco.  Cerro Seco (Dry Hill) is a community just a five minute walk from Bahia (pop. 7 000) which is also the entry to a Tropical Dry Forest Reserve where Marcelo lives.  We went there and the view is incredible!  He essentialy maintains this part of the reserve makes trails, identifies types of trees and plant life, guides people around, he also has a chicken coop, pigs, a pet iguana, a donkey called hercules, a compost, a nursery for reforestation of the area, and is starting a new bio gas project with the pigs.  I totally fell in love with the place.  Marcelo took me on a walk on one of the paths up the mountain, and we could see canaries, these vultures, lizards, iguanas, cacti that were as tall as trees, these wierd trees that look like humans, as you can see from the pictures, we saw puma and other feline tracks, orchids, and so many birds!!!!!  What is so intersting about the ecology of the forest (what I got from it all, the coast accent is so different from the sierra, they talk with more of a lilt and drop the endings off of their words, don't pronounce very clearly anything) is tha during the nine months of the year when there is no rain, the forest goes into a kind of hibernation against the heat.  The trees drop their leaves, they grow spines like cacti to keep away insects, the snails (see picture) don't move and hibernate, and it's very desert like, and then from december to march, it rains, and everything grows and reproduces, and it turns green and alive.. so I get to see that !! I can't even imagine.

So I think my job for my placement will be to make a sort of identification book and research from English books about dry tropical forest because Marcelo knows a LOT about it, but there has been a lot more research done by english scientists, so I will try to take pictures and make identification markers and signs along the pathways, and make a sort of book and guide for the tourists when they come.  I will also help with the chickens, I am to make a mangrove greenhouse for a display, also reforest the area, help the mothers at the nearby school make lunches for the children (the community all pitches in so that all the kids get a good lunch every day through differnt fundraising activities), kayak and get to know the mangrove islands so that I can help Marcelo guide english speaking tourists in that area, vaccinate dogs.. (kind of random but a possible activity), also help with advertising Cerro Seco across Ecuador. Anyways its got everything to keep me busy and happy. My room overlooks the bay, from the hill, I have enough room for friends to stay with me in my room, I buy my own food and prepare it myself, Marcelo says that we just make a rough outline of the week together as to what things we'd both like to do, and then see if we can coordinate, if not.. we just do our own things.. if i want to get up at nine i can get up at nine, if i want to get up at five, get up at five.. he also is very adamant about working, having fun (aka kayaking, he will teach me with his surfing friends how to surf, we will fish and and snorkel!) as well as party some weekends in Canoa or go to the international surfing competition in Montanita. 

So all in all.. really looking forward to next semester and hoping to do a lot of big things there because I think there is the opportunity and I have a lot of ideas and think I can really dedicate myself there.  And the BIRDS!!!!! I can't wait . (look what you did to your daughter mom.. )

So enjoy the pictures! All is well.. drinking cappuchinos (with an iota of kahlua in it) and doing some readings.. in Quito. Much love from south..

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