The End of an Era

After over 6 years of intensive research and community development work in and around the Yachana Reserve, GVI Amazon is coming to a close. We have finished our final research project (look forward to our Road Effects paper, coming soon!) and are handing over the project to our partner, The Yachana Foundation. They will continue to maintain and monitor the reserve, using it as an hands-on science education center for students -- we're very excited to see what fabulous things this next generation of scientists find! For more detail on GVI Amazon's closure, and our accomplishments over the years, please read on...
GVI Amazon Closure Statement

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Hector's Island

Friday brought the group a very early start at 3.45am, when they lugged their big rucksacks, hammocks n all down to the road to get a bus to Coca. Three hours later the bus arrived just in time for the volunteers to tuck into a delicious breakfast. After some speedy emails home and more snack buying, the next mode of transport was a canoe down the Napo River, with Hector, heading for his very own island. The afternoon was spent setting up hammocks and then Hector took the group on a tour around the island. After wading waist deep through multiple swamps the slightly damp volunteers were finally rewarded with a view of a family of Woolly Monkeys (Lagothrix lagotricha) as well as some Squirrel Monkeys (Saimiri sciureus), which were spectacular!
Following a very wet night, in their hammocks, the volunteers took a trip to a nearby island, where the resident local family make their living by selling cash crops such as cacao and coffee. The group went for a walk around the island and tried some delicious manioc beer. They were shown some very useful plants – leaves that can be used as nail files; seed cases useful for ash trays; a palm that could be used to make blow darts. They spent the afternoon trying out their blow pipe and spearing skills, which was good fun and ended up quite competitive. After the excitement of the day the volunteers took a relaxing bathe in the Rio Napo, which was great fun - the current was so strong, it was hard to stay in the same place.

On Sunday those who had the energy, sampled some traditional Ecuadorian tea (Guayusa), at 4.30 in the morning. Hector rustled up the traditional brew and then discussed some of the issues that have a huge impact on the region, mainly focusing on the oil exploration in Ecuador. By 8 o’clock the tea had given the group physical strength and clarity of mind and they set to work filling in a well and moving a large pile of stones, that were to be used to make a path between the classroom and kitchen for the school – nothing like a spot of labour to make you feel like you are alive! After an exhausting morning (plantain beer for refreshments) we went to a beach island and played a spot of football until an incredible sunset - the group were treated to the spectacle of the Volcano Sumaco as the backdrop to the whole affair. A fitting end to a fantastic weekend.