July started rather nicely with a trip to a friend’s finca (like farm, but many people here have farms that they only go to on weekends and in the evenings). It was a short trip, but lovely all the same. I saw this really neat butterfly that I’ve never seen around here. Also, they slaughtered a turkey to eat…oh, the food was so good. They made cheese and there was fresh cane syrup and fresh juice… I should have taken pictures of the food.
The 2nd we had a school group from the city come to visit the reserve. Unfortunately, all of my work partners were busy that day which left me to guide the group with an ex—coworker who lives in and is from Galapagos, not here. It went really well though. It’s great to get local groups of kids to visit the reserve because they get really excited about it and they usually didn’t even know that dry tropical forest exists, much less that it exists so close to where they live.
We visited El Oro again to progress in the land rights work that I previously mentioned
Also, we had a group of tourism students from the University of Loja. A little disappointing that the students seemed more like they just wanted a vacation and no one was too excited about the reserve or mentioned eco-tourism or anything. Oh well.
Got invited to another finca where I was spoiled yet again with fresh-picked food. Coffee beans (really tasty fresh), coconuts, limes, papaya.
Later in the month, I went camping in a petrified forest in Puyango. Due to volcanic activity, the trees became petrified, absorbing minerals from lava through their roots while still alive but fallen. The petrified trees have slowly been uncovered over the years, while at the same time a live forest has grown on top of them. Due to the volcanic activity, there are also many plant and animal fossils in the area.
The second half of the month marked the start of many long days of work building fences to keep Peruvian cows and goats out of the reserve. (Which is much more reasonable than building a wall to keep Mexican human beings out of the US, if you ask me.) I didn’t get to go along very much, guess the men don’t like women getting all up in their manly work. Whatever.
Also, big news in July, a group of acting/production students from the University in Guayaquil came to the reserve to film short children’s stories as sort of a thesis project. Most of the actors are local people, only about six were students. They did some last year too…not too preachy but with positive messages about caring for the forest. It’s nice to take local people out to the reserve so they get to know it and have positive memories of it. Plus, you can imagine the outtakes filming in the reserve, particularly with the animals.
The last week in July, we went to a site called Progresso, where NCI is just beginning a new reserve. I’m hoping to go back this week to learn about doing a bird inventory. The reserve there is denser, with more animals. The river even has crocodiles :-D
Well, that’s about it for July. Here are some random photos from the month. Until next month! <3 sarita