Saturday, September 5, 2009

Big Time in the Jungle

Hola! It hasn't been that long since my last post, but so much has happened, I'll try to cover all the details. Last weekend my mama and my sister and I went to the Botanical Gardens in Quito, absolutely beautiful. Orchids and carnivorous plants and bromeliads and many, many others! On Sunday we all went mountain biking (Don't worry Mom, I was wearing a helmet) on an old railroad line. It was great, running between people's backyards filled with gardens and cows and chickens and sheep, it was 17 km, around 10 miles. At the top we rode about four more blocks through a little village and found my mama's parent's house were we had lunch with all the family (around 30 of us, reminiscent of any Rumback get-together). Monday morning my class met at the university and we traveled to Tiputini Biodiversity Research Station, deep in the heart of the Amazon rainforest, along the Tiputini River. We did some research experiments and presentations, jungle hikes and boat rides. We learned firsthand how diverse the region is and how fragile the ecosystems are between plants, insects, birds and mammals. I saw howler monkeys, caimans, toucans, macaws, kingfishers, taiper prints, turtles, lizards, tarantulas, and countless ants and other insects. We also got to climb up the towers to walk in the canopy of the rainforest, about 45 meters high (again, don't worry Mom, we were roped in). Our professor and all the guides working at TBS were so knowledgable and funny, kind and helpful, it was really sad to say goodbye after one week and return home. Our last day we rode a boat up the river a ways and put on our lifejackets and jumped into the cool, murky water for a flotador (float trip) back down to the station, which lasted about three hours. Because there is a parasite in the Amazon rivers called an umbrella or a penis fish (it enters you, male or female if you pee in the water) we all climbed out along the shore to go. That's all for now! Besos!