My volunteer experience at Lalo Loor dry forest is very different than my time at…
All roads lead to Quito
It’s been a rough last three days. Starting with the arrival back to Quito from the Amazon rain forest. Funny thing about Ecuador. You pretty much have to go through Quito to get to any other place in the country. The middle of the country is all mountainous and not fun at all to travel. So hot and humid meets cold and damp. A quick check into to my hostel [in the sketchy part of town] to drop off my stuff and off to the mall to buy supplies for the next part of the journey [mainly rubber working boots]. At 9p, a quick bite of pizza, and a [very short] slumber, I am off again…
A bonanza of modes of transportation in one day, and me with my giant backpack, little backpack, and plastic shopping bag with my rubber boots. Up at 3:30A to leave the Mindo cloud forest for the coast. Caught the early bus to Quito. Arrive in Quito and transfer to the trole station so that I can get to the OTHER bus terminal where the bus to the coast leave from. At 5:45am I am on the electric trole that runs through downtown Quito stopping every 200 feet or so to pick up more people.
Three troles later, I arrive in Quitumbe terminal to wait for the bus to Pedernales. The bus to Pedernales is a regular bus which is great because we are descending through the Andes mountains. Brakes are a good thing to have when you are descending from 10,000 ft all the way to sea level. At Pedernales, I transfer to a local bus–much less comfortable and much more crowded–so crowded in fact that I can’t get off at my stop and it takes 1km before I can get the driver to stop so that I can get off. Luckily for me a very nice girl offered to bring me back to my stop on her moto-bike. So its her doing the driving and me with my two backpacks and sack on the road. I’m sure it was a funny sight to see. Amazingly enough, we did not crash and I safely made it to the welcome center of the forest where I´ll be for the two weeks or so.
Some of the highlights of my new lodgings:
- What they call it: Ecological toilet What it actually is: an out house–A very large hole in the ground with a toilet seat attached to a built up concrete platform. [outhouses still freak me out due to a very close call I had in one as a child involving a snake and a very full bladder]
- What they call it: Environmental shower What it actually is: a hose hanging from the ‘ventilated’ building using rain collected from the rainy season [Yes, it is cold]
- What they call it: Candlelit evenings What it actually is: citronella chic because the mosquitoes will eat you alive and take your bloody carcass to their lair [This province hasn’t had a single documented case of malaria in YEARS, but I still plan douse myself in 80% DEET when I am in the woods. Wait, what am I talking about, I’ll be living in the woods]
- What they call it: no electricity What it actually is: no electricity– the house is constructed from bamboo so there are gaps in the walls, the roof is tin and palm thatches, also gaps in it, and birds and things can just fly through. Glad to have the mosquito nets, and glad that the cabin is elevated off of the ground.
This is the meaning of roughing it?
But in exchange I get 3 meals a day, a bed with mosquito nets, and a chance to do conservation education in a place that is just starting its conservation efforts. And I found out today that there is the chance that I will be able to go to the Galapogas Islands for a week for next to nothing–which would be awesome because tours to the islands are around $1000, which is definitely not in the budget.