A Travellerspoint blog

Week 3: More rain and a little football


I hope that you are thoroughly enjoying reading about my adventures in strange foreign lands. I am enjoying having them so everyone is happy.

This week the lodge has been packed full with the Americans and another couple of English volunteers - both Biology graduates from Guildford. Eugh, southerners!

As usual, here is a quick run down of the events of the past week:

  • Spent last Saturday evening watching the first Harry Potter film on some American cable channel whilst eating a large bar of Hershey´s Cookies n Cream chocolate - very authentic cultural experience
  • Found a supermarket so could actually eat this weekend!
  • Met a Lancastrian woman called Trudi who was going through a mid-life crisis and so had taken 3 months out to travel Ecuador. Had breakfast with her at the hostel.
  • Experienced the delights of Quito smog
  • Got ill which made the 2 hour hike back to the lodge very miserable!
  • Started the reforestation project which from what I can gather involves digging 400 holes then filling them all back in again! Seemed slightly counter productive.
  • Did a bit more on the reforestation project which involved putting your hands in a large sack of what turned out to be rice husks and chicken poo and adding this delightful mix to the holes we dug earlier
  • Planted some Cedar trees which are apparently very valuable here
  • FOUND THE SWING!!! This is very cool. There is a swing tied to a branch which is 50feet off the forest floor (we debated for several minutes how on earth they managed to tie it up there, then gave up and enjoyed the swing). Those of you good at maths can probably suss out that this makes for a very impressive swing through the jungle canopy. I was slightly disturbed by the cross shaped palm trees at the far end of the ride though!
  • Played ´soccer´in the rain on the ´soccer pitch´. The pitch is actually a large muddy wasteland outside the employees´ house with a couple of bits of wood nailed together to form goals at each end.
  • We discovered very quickly the downside of having a mud pitch as soon as the daily torrential downpour started. Pitiful result: Sta Lucia 5, Gringos 1 (and we had 3 extra players! Oops, sorry guys, we let the side down!

Well, that´s about it for this week. Hopefully, if all has gone well, the first of my photos should be up now. You can look at them at laurabamforth.fotopic.net (please excuse the entertaining photo of my mother displayed on the front page from my Venice excursion!).

Hope all´s well. Have to log off now as using the lodge computer as I haven´t gone to Quito this weekend and the internet here is expensive.

Posted by mystras_m 07:10 Archived in Ecuador Comments (0)

Week 2: Still alive but almost eaten to death!


Once again I have managed to survive a full week in the wild terrain that is Bosque Nublado Santa Lucia. This week I have managed to rack up over 100 insect bites so you can all stop being jealous! I am indeed a macdonalds for mosquitos who seem to think that insect repellent is tomato ketchup!

So, in and amongst being eaten alive, here is a quick run down of this week´s exciting events:

  • I got VERY sunburnt following my last email whilst sat in a park near the bus station chatting in Spanglish to a body builder called Hector!
  • Almost died hanging off the back of truck which was our ´lift´to the lodge on what would otherwise be a 2 hour walk.
  • Pushed said truck up a hill after it got stuck in the mud (this is a common problem due to all the rain!)
  • Took a wrong turn on the trail up to the lodge and ended up 20 mins off course on the mule trail - this will be a lesson to me to get fit and keep up with the rest of the group!
  • Weeded the approach trails to the lodge
  • Helped with the lodge stockcheck in Spanish - I still don´t think it´s occurred to them that I don´t speak Spanish!
  • Picked up a non-venomous snake on the trail up to the lodge only to be told (and to smell) afterwards that instead of venom it secretes a foul smelling substance - one which I have discovered clings to your hands until scrubbed clean with soap and water an hour later!
  • Did some more weeding on the banana plantation and finally finished it!
  • Found someone else who is as big a Pirates of the Caribbean fan as I am! Yay, I´m not the only sad person!
  • Spent a day cutting and cleaning the cane in the sugar plantation then carried it all down the hill to the sugar processing plant (aka a mud area with a tin roof and a vice and furnace set up in it!)
  • Spent an entertaining morning watching the new (somewhat gullible) American volunteers being coerced into running round in circles after a couple of mules who were now strapped to the vice yelling insults in Spanish to get them to move and therefore crush the cane to extract the juice
  • Spent 7 hours watching the sugar cane juice boil! Tedious but necessary. Became entertaining when the guys from the lodge began drinking the juice mixed with ´lasso´ - the local liquor made from fermented sugar cane. It´s about 90% proof and provides great amusement when watching others down several cups of the stuff!
  • After 7 hours took the sugar off the fire and stirred it very quickly and watched it magically turn into powder - it is very strange but cool!
  • Used some of the sugar mixture to make peanut butter toffee, then ate lots and felt very ill!
  • Saw 2 (smooth on the inside, crunchy on the outside) armadillos! (maybe only Daisy will actually get the significance of the quote but I hold out hope for the rest of you!)
  • Saw lots of fireflies.
  • SAW THE WORLD´S LARGEST WORM!!!!! Seriously this thing was enormous! It was about 4 feet long and about 2 inches thick and when we saw it it was climbing the steps into the lodge and had to be redirected by one of the staff! I have it on video and it is really a case of see it to believe it! It makes me wonder why garden worms ever bothered me!

Well, that´s about it for this week. As you can see it´s proving to be quite an experience. Hope all´s well back home. Take care and I´ll post my next update next week.

Posted by mystras_m 23:05 Archived in Ecuador Comments (0)

Week 1: Very Soggy


Being all aone in a cloud forest with a machete wielding man on either side of you is not everyone´s idea of a holiday. It´s ok tho - it was just Jorge and Julio, 2 of the lodge employees who were clearing the banana plantation with me. (sorry about giving you a slight heart attack mum)

Firstly many thanks for all your emails. When you´re stuck in a lodge on top of a mountain in el-bally-middle-de-nowhere it´s very nice to hear from friends at the weekend.

Well, first week over. Here´s a quick run down of what´s been going on for those what cannot be bothered to read lots of text!

  • Climbed the 1,920m to the lodge. Got there in the rain. Couldn´t see the view.
  • Woke at 2am as my body had not yet adjusted to the time difference and thought I was about to miss my bus to work!
  • Dug a water ditch
  • Watched it get full of rain
  • Weeded a banana plantation (for 4 days!)
  • Watched it get rained on
  • Read a book in the hammocks outside the lodge whilst watching it rain
  • Visited the compost toilet several times (I know Jon will appreciate that one - and for your reference don´t recommend them to anyone - they stink!)
  • Saw 2 snakes - one which was venomous and promptly got macheted by the nice men at the lodge then hung up a tree for a bird, and the other which was tiny and non-venomous which I held for a bit. Actually quite cute.
  • Ate guava (not at all like the English version - it grows up a tree in pods and is a white furry fleshy fruit with a huge stone in it!). It´s pronounced ´wawah´
  • Saw a bat
  • Ate lots of nice food
  • Tried out the ´forest view´shower which is actually not as bad as it first sounded! Watched it rain outside
  • Walked down the Inca Trail (Sorry D, I beat you to it!) to La Delicia where the weekend lodge is. The tropical storm made it very hard going and the entire contents of my bag got drenched. My phrase book and Bible are probably going to take several days to dry out and even then I´m not sure whether they´ll be usable! Also found out that my wellies are fully waterproof (thanks mum) however don´t keep out rain that runs down the insdie of your trouser leg and consequently I ended up with a private paddling pool for 2 and a half hours of the 4 hour trip!

Anyway, enough ramblings. I´m sure you´re all very jealous of my sunny vacation (I did catch the sun on one morning in the banana plantation - the same day I first saw the view which is spectacular)

Posted by mystras_m 02:58 Archived in Ecuador Comments (0)

No turning back

Flights booked. Costs too much to cancel. Have to go!

overcast 9 °C

For once I am actually organised. Flights are booked four months in advance of the trip. Now there's very little to do but count down the days until take off (141 if you're interested).

As it stands the plan seems to be 10 weeks in Ecuador then 2 weeks in Costa Rica and finishing with a month in Peru - land of the Inca Trail, the Inca Monuments and ... Inca Cola (Yes, it does exist! I didn't make it up and I'll take photos to prove it!).

Well as I still have 99 working days until the Big Day I should get back to doing some.

Posted by mystras_m 05:20 Tagged armchair_travel Comments (0)

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