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

Friday, January 27, 2012

Aaaaand we're off!

I've just come back from the GVI Amazon base camp, where things are off to a great start in 2012.  We've got a fantastic inaugural group for the new 4-8-12 week schedule, with folks from all over the globe: UK, USA, Australia, India and our Ecuadorian national scholarship student, Henry -- GVI is everywhere!

While I was at basecamp, we went through all the usual, and very important, health & safety stuff --- you know, don't get burned by the stove, don't get lost in the forest, and, oh yeah, STAY AWAY FROM THE WANDERING SPIDERS!!!  The "dangers of the Amazon" were presented in high style, with plenty of comedy as well as important scientific detail, by our base management team, Phil & Phil, as we talked snakes, spiders, caterpillars (yep, even caterpillars can be scary out here!) and more.

From there we moved on to birds, amphibs, reptiles, butterflies and mammals, with each staff member presenting their specialty and getting everyone psyched up for surveys.  A couple of night walks and very wet stream walks brought in some cool amphib sightings, and even I got to observe some amazing frogs who have taken up residence by our compost heap. 

 A full day of Emergency First Response training got everyone up to speed on first aid and CPR drills, so we can all head into the forest with confidence, having simulated everything from encountering a non-breathing victim to the team's Emmy-award winning acting out of a mass canoe explosion with 5 difficult victims for the unsuspecting responder team to assess, triage and treat.  We made sure that a good time was had by all, but also that some serious learning took place, and we're happy to note that the final exam was a rousing success -- go team Amazon!



While I did greatly enjoy the acting in the first aid scenarios, the highlight of my week was definitely my last night, when our two Amazon-tastic volunteers from India, cousins Naren & Manu, announced that they would be preparing a special Indian dinner for us with special spiced rice they'd brought with them to share with the group!  Staff and our staff team intern, Lu, and scholar, Tom, pitched in to make flatbread, and the meal was phenomenal --- incredibly delicious delicate and yet still spicy flavors -- and the best part?  -- in true Indian-style the guys taught us how to eat with our fingers as they would at home!  So much fun, and truly a special night in GVI Amazon history.  Now we just have to figure out how to get that rice shipped in to the Amazon with our weekly food order....

Overall, an awesome week and fantastic start to 2012!  For all you readers out there, we hope to see you in the Amazon soon!

Blaine Clarke - Country Director, GVI Amazon - Ecuador