Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Welcome to the Jungle

For those of you that can't keep up with what we're up to (don't worry, I can't either - it takes me a minute to remember where I am when I wake up every morning), we are now in Ecuador for three months to be managers of a nature reserve.  That means that we take care of the cabin, trails, water system, etc for the reserve, as well as doing publicity around town and keeping up the blog (lastangaras.wordpress.net); taking care of visitors, hiking in materials, fuel, and food (serious job, here - it's 3 km up the road from town, and then 2 km down a muddy trail - so even if we get a ride to the trailhead, we still have to haul stuff in the last 2 km); doing some data collection for bird research; feeding hummingbirds; etc etc etc.  For this work, we get free lodging, a food stipend, and the chance to live and work in a cloud forest in a quiet, beautiful cabin.  Not a terribly bad deal, really.

We made it on December 5th, with no big hitches, to Las Tangaras Nature Reserve in Mindo, Ecuador, as planned.  We met the last managers of the Reserve, Micah and Jaime and their three-year-old son, Never (who called Jeff "grandpa" - hah!), as planned.  They took off on the 7th, as planned.  Then, not as planned, the bridge broke.

Hey - I don't think it's supposed to hang like that...
 Jeff, being the engineer of the two of us, got on it and hitched it up for a temporary fix.
In the US, this would be a duct tape and chewing gum fix.  Here, those aren't available, so it's rope and wire.
 It's looking a bit better, but we're working as fast as we can on getting cable and qualified folks to do real repairs.
Welcome!  And caution!
But hey, our cabin and the reserve are worth the trip.  Why I don't have a picture of the outside yet, I don't know, but here's the inside:
The downstairs, with the kitchen in the background.
The upstairs, looking into the area where guests sleep.

 The reserve itself is gorgeous, too, in its cloud forest:

We feed the hummingbirds daily, and record the species we see come by:
Yah know, honey, you could sit down while eating...
My, what a long tail you have...
 Once in a while, though, they hit the window, and act a bit stunned for a while:
Sorry, dude, for putting that window in your way.

But so far, no casualties.

We have already had a couple friends visit!  Jeff's friend from junior high, Nathan, and his girlfriend, Sarah, came to Ecuador and made time to come all the way to Mindo for a couple nights.  Whoo hoooo!  Nathan kind of giggled when we asked if he wanted to take a machete along to help us do some trail maintenance while we hiked a bit:
Boys and their big knives.  Sheesh.
 The trails around here aren't your nice little walks in the woods - they can be steep, and muddy this time of year, and the jungle likes to take them over.  One must come prepared.
Jeff shows off his jungle skillz.
And, due to the 2 km hike out, one must leave prepared, too.  Nathan and Sarah made sure to suit up with serious hiking boots, gaiters, rain pants, and headlamps for their night hike out.
Bring it on!
 And off they went.  It was fun to have them visit, and we hope they're having a great time on the rest of their adventure!

And now I must get off the internet so we can get back to the reserve before dark.  Slip sliding away!


  1. What an awesome adventures---GOOD MEMORIES

  2. Hey....Grandpa Jeff. Love your story and photos. What a bridge!

  3. Love this! What a fun life you have!