The conservation continues with more wildlife

I enjoy hearing the stories of how everyone slept during the night. Anti-malarials are known to give you weird dreams, and usually the cheaper they are, the weirder the dreams. The only exciting thing that happened last night was one of the guys apparently sleep talked, and his roommate had to look out for him punching things, which apparently is what he does in his sleep! Luckily we had no more ‘roach incidents in our room.

Breakfast was lovely guanabana juice, homemade yoghurt and jelly. It turned out that guanabana juice was orange coloured. I like all the new fruit I am getting to try here, and it all tastes lovely!

Figure 1. A guanabana.

At the work site today we continued cutting down trees. Unfortunately the repeated action of using a machete yesterday, whilst having gardening gloves on, had given me bad blisters on my thumbs and fingers in the most awkward of places. Despite the pain I really enjoyed it though!

I found a giant grasshopper which was really placid and just stayed on my glove. Miguel was interested so I gave it to him. During the day I also saw a baby frog and a huge evil-looking praying mantis. Praying mantises remind me of the film ‘A Bug’s Life’. I am really astounded at the variety of interesting insects that you can encounter here in one day. Plants wise, most of the trees are covered in epiphytes, and the orange-coloured lemons must be one of the funkiest, yet deceiving, things ever. The bad side of today is it rained all day, instead of the cloud cover only dropping down onto the forest in the afternoon.

Figure 2. Epiphytes.

We had a bit of a laugh earlier as we told Miguel in jest that we would like to eat the ‘sopa’ with a ‘tenedor’ (that means eat the soup with a knife). He thought it was very funny. We think he must enjoy the fact some of us speak Spanish. We learnt that his normal job is a salesman of kitchenware and machines.

These last two days have been peppered with the occasional rest break. One time I went to drink from my water bottle and had obviously got deet on the rim of it somehow, so my lips stung for a bit. The boys had great fun swinging off the lianas, but had to learn to check where they hung down from, to see if they would hold their weight. By 3:30pm we had planted over 200 trees in a one hectare area, cutting down most of the trees apart from the really thick trunked ones. This sounds a bit cheesy, but we really are proud of what we have achieved, even if our bodies ache all over.

I had a shower when I got back as I felt so grimy from the day’s work. You sweat so much from the hard work and the humidity in this climate. Later I ventured into one of the boys rooms as they had found a large moth, and nicknamed it Bruce, and also a small one called Susan. However, these aren’t quite as cool as the one we saw on our first day. We had literally been in the cloud forest about 10-15 minutes or so, and were walking up the hill, when a butterfly with an 89 on its wings (98 on the other side).

Figure 3. Number 89 butterfly.

Dinner was very lightly battered fish, broccoli and mash which reminded us of home, as well as Bodger and Badger. Jelly was for pudding which tasted so good. Not sure this meal could have been that sustainable though. Ecuador gets 0 points for sustainable fishing in the Newsweek magazine given to me by one of the teachers on the trip. We heard the girl leader, and guy deputy leader for today arguing while washing up. It was so funny, and the sound carried all the way up to us in the communal area. After dinner some people played poker, while others dozed in chairs.

Figure 3. Washing up area and cooking area.

I feel so honoured to be in the tourist house, not the volunteer house as it’s full. We have two American girls in here with us, as there is no more room in the volunteer house. Apparently us coming doubled the workforce so they can actually see the progress being made. The only bad thing with the house is the walls and floors are very thin, and upstairs there are no ceilings between rooms.

Tomorrow morning there is a plan to go milk the cows as one of our teachers did it this morning, and said it was great fun.

Next time: Working in the vegetable garden.

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