Wednesday, May 19, 2021
Today's morning started with a hearty 5:30 breakfast and then the morning excursions. The two groups swapped the morning activities from the day before, with Chris's group walking the canopy suspension bridge and Fausto's group climbing the tower and observing wildlife from atop one of the tallest trees in the forest. More amazing organisms were spotted such as the majestic swallowtail kite and the elusive red titi monkey.
The groups arrived back at the forest lodge at 10:30 for a quick snack, before having free time to do laundry and catching up with writing in our journals before lunch at 1. After lunch was a group game activity, named the human knot where everyone was holding hands in a knot like pattern and the end goal was to unravel everyone. While we were unsuccessful the group shared many laughs and we learned communication skills from it.
At 4:00 the afternoon excursion started, where we hiked through the rainforest and learned about new medicinal plants as well as local culture. Some highlights were learning about local shamans and spiritualism as well as complex tribal conflicts. There was also a vibrant green dwarf iguana, the smallest iguana in the world, and the calls of howler monkeys, whose voices can be heard upwards of 2 miles away. After the hike we settled down for a traditional Ecuadorean dinner, with fresh rainforest herbs, fruits, and fish as the main ingredients. Many dishes use Yuca, a delicious potato-like starch that can be fried, smashed, or made into a soup, bread, and crackers.
After dark we all visited an abandoned butterfly sanctuary. While we didn't see any butterflies, there were many other spectacular animals such as tarantulas, frogs, bats, and a juvenile water snake. We also got acquainted with high-tech research materials used for researching bats, such as a call identifier, ultraviolet cameras, and high quality night vision binoculars, as well as the methods and techniques used to conduct a scientific study.
After a productive day of sight seeing and learning about the local culture, we all went back to our rooms and settled in for the night in anticipation of what new experiences will come tomorrow.
-Kat (Hi mom and dad. I got to hold an owl yesterday and release a turtle I named Barcelona) and Alex (Happy Birthday Mom!)
You can check out more trip photos here: https://photos.app.goo.gl/8eDMdvX8mXmMNTzx5