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, October 6, 2010

Welcome to Ecuador!

I began my ascent up the stairs trembling under the weight of my kit, maraca keyring dancing in my pocket. My ride from the airport was a steep roller coaster ride through the red lights of Quito. The next day I learned to disguise my important documents stashed like a spy with a wire.

I met some interns on Tuesday and visited the vivarium to watch the tiny poison dart frogs, iguanas, burrowing turtles, and twisting boas. We saw our first orchids at Jardin Botanico where they filled long green houses to the ceiling with intricate beauty. The smell of rich vanilla and a chance bird spotting made Jardin a real treat. We got a taxi through a real tropical downpour past the Petro Ecuador with its picketers. That night forks of lightening our pitch black room.

Wednesday was bright enough to take the Teleferico. Tim, Jane and I paid over the ‘foreigner’ ticket price and jumped into a cable car that rolled on bike wheels. We could see three snowcapped mountain tops and clusters of purple flowers rise out of the tall, caramel grass. We wobbled to a stop, jumped out and hiked up to 4,500m where the snow stuck to black rocks. My lungs stretched to gasp and we lost Jane to altitude sickness. On the way down I nearly slid feet first into Cascada del Amor and clambered back up the red soil. Tight-haired horses passed by us with cowboy hats on. We spent our last day before the expedition began in old town buying bed sheets (so we wouldn’t have to sleep in shower curtains on base).

Unfortunately, Ecuador’s political situation then began to deteriorate. However, we were in the safety of the hostel and met by base camp manager Andy. Politics interfered with the beginning of the GVI Amazon expedition but by Sunday we were on our way. There was too much to see on the journey; volcanoes, waterfalls, men selling snacks in the aisle of the bus.

Tena is a small town in the fork of a white river that steamed in the sticky heat. We ate fried banana that night and a good time was had by all. The next day, after another bus journey, we reached the river port of Los Rios. Miles of water framed the jungle and water splashed us as dead wood floated by. Past the Yachana Lodge site and the community of Mondana we met the dreaded 200 and something steps to base camp. I survived them to write this and now we’re all settled in raring to go!

Helen Stout - GVI Amazon long term intern, October 2010 - March 2011