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

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Hector's Island

At 3:30am on Thursday volunteers had an early start to their weekend away to Hector’s Island (Sumak Allpa). After a few hours trying to sleep on a very bumpy bus, some free time in Coca and an hour cruising down the river, the volunteers landed at the jetty of Hector’s Island in the middle of the Rio Napo. Within minutes of arriving, everyone had their binoculars out to marvel at the Pygmy Marmoset (Cebuella pygmaea) in the trees just a few metres away from the group. After setting up the jungle hammocks – the accommodation for the next few nights, Hector welcomed the group by taking them for a short walk where a tortoise and four species of monkey were spotteed, including a group of seven Woolly Monkeys (Lagothrix lagotricha) passing through the canopy directly above.

The next day, a rooster woke everyone up early, but to a beautiful sunrise over the river. Then the group got to work making a path between the school buildings that Hector and his wife run. After lots of carrying and hammering rocks into the ground, the volunteers were glad to have the camp right by the river. After a productive hot morning, everyone had a refreshing swim (their shower for the day!). Fun and games followed in the afternoon, including lots of unsuccessful spear throwing, making and shooting their very own blow darts and more river-swimming. Nothing like a bit of Huaorani culture to get everyone involved.

After a second night in the jungle hammocks, (or in Eddie’s case on the floor, after his hammock collapsed), Hector took the group out around his island to share some of his knowledge and explore more of the forest. This involved numbing Emma’s mouth with an anaesthetic plant root, Adrian and Stuart climbing trees and Amy weaving herself a stylish palm-leaf handbag.

The afternoon brought surprisingly few injuries during British bulldog and beach football in the rain, but everyone enjoyed the chance to relax and have some fun. This was felt even more when Hector treated us to chicken - the first meat in weeks.

On Sunday the group passed through Coca, their last chance for shops and communications for another couple of weeks and they took the opportunity to stock up on snacks, including, for the more adventurous of them, Max’s treat of a choice of live or barbequed grubs - a local delicacy so they were told. Everyone was sad to leave Hector and his island, but were ready to get back into the swing of camp life deep in GVI’s own piece of rainforest.