Ecuador 2011 Part 3 - Duties as a volunteer. Time working in Itapoa Hostel, Puerto López. Isla de la Plata. Summing up
We find a frog sitting under the washing up on the sink, I
call him Colin. We put him out and the big brown frog turns into a fine
tree frog as he hangs from the railing outside. I look in the book and
find that he is 'Jordan's casque-headed tree frog' and my new favorite
frog, such a cool looking amphibian.
Later Raul tells us that the
frog lives here in the house and that he must now be quite sad to be
living on the roof where I go and visit him every night. Colin was
probably keeping the bugs and cockroaches down in the house!
and 'help' in several lessons at the school with a view to possibly
teaching there. The children are young and are very nice. A lesson is
quite disorganized with the children walking about and talking a lot but
they do get on with their work and are not naughty or bad.
'help' is a little limited as at first my spanish is nonexistent. I do
get better and there are only a few words needed to teach english.
However I do need more spanish if I am first of all to help the other
volunteer teacher much before I could even think of teaching myself.
Learning to trust the children was a good challenge, it is certainly
something I never thought I would do!
At the house we have been
learning to replant forest. It is also possible to plant produce like
banana trees and cacao in order to produce a product from the forest.
October and in Puerto López helping to run the Itapoa Hostel part of
the main Itapoa project. Here we give the guests the option to have the
chocolate from the forest as a spread or drink. Also the coffee is
produced by us. It is quite intense work serving the breakfasts. After
this it is a matter of getting supplies from town for the hostel. After
that talking to the guests and booking them in.
Usually at 4pm I
water the gardens. Water is expensive here in the dry part of the
country but one of the main appeals in the hostel is that it is set in
green gardens. The investment is worth it was the hostel is a nice place
I visited the Isla de la Plata, the 'poor mans
Galapagos' and saw blue footed boobies amongst some other special
wildlife in the dry forest there.
me back in Puerto Quito where a Norwegian family who were at the hostel
have come to volunteer here. The others are in the Jungle and Raul is
soon off to the USA to do some talks. Looks like I am in charge in
Puerto Quito then. There are always plenty of jobs to do here. Checking
the perimeter, checking to see the poachers are not back. Watering the
new plants. Harvesting cacao and coffee. Oh and for me there is work to
do on the Itapoa website. Adding pictures and streamlining the code,
identifying wildlife and listing it with a picture on the website. I
have also added a page for the Itapoa Hostel.
I show the family the ropes here and surprise myself with how much I have learnt.
what is quite incredible here are the hummingbirds. I never realized
how small they are. But it is quite something to stand there and
suddenly have a hummingbird looking at you. They look incredible with
their colours and with their long beaks. They are very tame and will
stop less than a meter from you.
Last few weeks here we have been
working in the forest. With the usual harvesting of cacao and coffee.
Also preparation of the same. There are always jobs to do and many I
decide from my own initiative. I have been working on the Itapoa website
a lot. I have also been doing my own writing in my spare time.
have had a trip to Mindo just to see what the eco tours and forests
were like there. They have the right idea and it is a very nice place.
The balance seems to have been struck between resort and a way to save
the natural landscape. Being on the Quito road helps a lot.
bird life here is amazing. Today I took the time to sit on the tower at
the top of the house. All around is the sound of birds. You can see
kites, eagles, vultures in the distance and sometimes overhead, in
groups or alone. Now and then a squawking burst of a group of parrots
flying past. The sound of humming birds which I have come to recognise.
Flycatchers sitting on branches. Lots of wren type birds scouring the
undergrowth. Always as you look into the trees you see them alive with
life of moving birds. Woodpeckers will happily speck away while you
stand very close and watch. When there are no lorries full of gravel,
stones or palm oil passing by the place falls so quiet and the pervading
noise is the sound of birds. If you sit for long enough you see so many
your head starts to swim, and swivels round and round like the Omen. If
you think you have a lot of birds in your garden: you haven't. And that
is without even mentioning what we have named as the 'Orgasm Bird'!
agonised about coming to Ecuador on a plane and adding to my carbon
footprint but I knew that the one thing that justified it was that I
could spread the word of what is happening here from my writing and
talks. I feel justified now as there is no way from home I could have
appreciated the wholesale destruction of the forest and the endless
miles and miles of palm oil plantations. There is only 7% of the jungle
left and it looks hopeless but when you witness the bird life here and
the way the place is always growing and mega-diverse it gives one hope. I
could not have experienced this from home continuing with my mission to
save the planet there. Also the efforts at Itapoa to return forest to
something closer to primary after being cleared does give one hope when
you see other forest that has returned after clearing as this forest is
quite dank and close to dead. The Itapoa secondary forest is not like
this and shows life and healthy plants through being bought back to life
carefully. This also gives one hope for the future.
not like to feel the center of the Itapoa project and declines to have
to much credit on his shoulders. What I like about Itapoa is that it is
one man with the help of others doing his bit to try and save what
should not be lost with his desire to spread the word through the
internet and by giving talks around the world. Which is very much the
same as me, just an individual trying to do his bit. I have learnt a lot
at the project and am really pleased that I have helped to strengthen
it with my work during my time here and further work I can do 'remotely'
for Raul's Itapoa project and other projects with which he may become
All pictures here: https://picasaweb.google.com/jtuijl