A Travellerspoint blog

Adaptation completed

Weeks 7 - 16

sunny 25 °C

So it happened! Finally! =)

No more complaints about Ecuadorian slowness and imprecision. Instead of that pure joy and..happiness! I would not believe, that this will happen once. Example:

Sitting in the same internet cafe as always, I am so happy that my docs are getting scanned. It does not matter that it takes the guys already two hours and I needed to tell them already three times, how the final result should look like. They will finally manage it. And moreover, they will learn, how to work with the program. ..What did I say? Finally, they did the job perfectly. And this makes them and me so happy. So may be I started to understand the concept of patience?
So Rule Number 4: Patience and kindness bring satisfaction. To understand this took me three months.

Visiting Galapagos might have helped me to understand, a way, how this country works. In Galapagos no people rule, but the nature. Probably because never hunted, the animals are completely ignoring you. If you come too close, however, they will attack. Andean bears could only dream about such freedom! This wilderness and harmony together are breathtaking. People live in peace with nature and try to conserve it. And the animals...the bizarre animals! Giant huge turtles, and still so fragile. A flightless cormorant, so funny while drying its tiny feathers in the same way as its 'flying brothers' do. Tropical penguins, what a contrast! The Darwin finches, each species is a unique food specialist! And the marine iguanas? =) So interesting lizzards! Because of their hypothermia, only the biggest males are able to feed themselves under water. If they are eating, they are eating. No matter what. The Galapagos sea lions resemble the cutest drunks. During the days they all sleep together on the pavements, on the banks, under the banks, snoring, stinking and making other sounds and liquids. Still, one must love them! And they are so privileged. No one can sit on their banks.

I could go on and on like this forever. I hope you enjoyed this entry. The next one but also the last one connected with this internship project is coming soon.

Posted by Ef 19:46 Archived in Ecuador Comments (0)

The country of contrasts

Weeks 5 & &

rain 10 °C

If you enter the word 'Ecuador' into your web browser, you will probably encounter many breathtaking pictures. Yes, it is true. This country is certainly breathtaking and incredible. But by this first click you will probably not reveal the contrasting and controversial issues of this country. During the last two weeks I kept encountering many of them. They seemed to me so interesting that I would like to share a couple of them with you.

Ecuadorian nature and sceneries are amazing. The purity of the nature is absolutely radiating. And so the purity of water is. But only for the sake of appearance. Water quality represents a serious issue in all the Ecuador. The quality is poor and every sip can cause you serious and even permanent health problems. Even the purest water in the mountains is saturated with giardia, cryptosporium and other protozoa. Without a proper water purification treatment this leaves you with diarrhea. And this you really do not want to get in the mountains. ;)

Ecuadorian mountains seem to be miraclous and only going to them appears to be a fairy tale. The opposite is true. If you do need to get to remote locations where normal tourists do not enter, you basically share your path with cows. This means that the roads are so filled with mud, water and cow faeces that you can throw your usual hiking shoes away. They are useless here. Herders hold their cattle (cattle, yes, you heard right) in about 2.500 m a.s.l. Bedrock is generally very soft in all the Ecuador and slopes are steep in such altitudes. With raining coming every day you can imagine the amount of water erosion and seriosity of this problem here. In such conditions you could herd maximally sheeps in Europe. However, they are no proper agricultural and environmental regulations and reforms here. So probably deforestration for means of pastures and cattle breeding in even higher altitudes will continue resulting in at least ten percent of forest loss in about next ten years.

You may think that all this may lead the government and Ministry of Environment to welcome international help and developing projects. I am very sorry to inform you that the opposite is true. If you decide to realize a project in Ecuador, you need to pay the government quite some money for authorization of your project. Such an authorization needs to be, moreover, renewed every two to three months costing you additional money. Although all the scientific world speaks English, this is not a case in Ecuador. So you probably need pay additional dollars to a person who translates all your work into Spanish (in case you are not a perfect Spanish speaker and you have additional two weeks of time for finalizing your project). Such an additional work is highly discouraging for any international researchers or organizations. The most interesting thing is that doing all this bureaucratical paperwork keeps environmental officers so busy, that they even do not get into the field. From that follows that crimes such as bear poaching, mainly commited by Ecuadorians, remains almost always without punishment.

I know that this entry does not seem very positive but life itself is not always shining. And I am not a hipocryte that does not reveal the shadowy parts of my life experience. Conversely, I think that one needs to know what is probable to be encountered here. Facing these real issues is making me stronger every day and I am trully thankful for them.

Posted by Ef 09:46 Archived in Ecuador Comments (0)

Uniqueness of a moment

Week 3 & 4

all seasons in one day 20 °C

Besides the rules mentioned in the previous entry, Ecuador can catch one´s heart with plenty of breathtaking moments. The last two weeks I absorbed many of them and right now I would like to share a small part of them with you.

There are many 4x4 pickups in Ecuador. Even police uses them. They are used for transport of everything, including persons. Joining a ride in the back of such a pickup is a great experience, a great moment. Moving in a usual crazily fast speed, you stare at the unusual scenery with beautiful mountains, tons of never ending forests and birds. You do not need to focus on anything else. Just that.

Another incredible moment for an European is going by a police car with a flashing beacon to a neighbouring village. It is quite normal here that, when you need to, policemen bring you to where you and they need to. During such a ride, they are very friendly and asking many and many questions (a habit, I guess;). And the flashing beacon? Nothing special. They are policemen, they can use it if they want to.

Well, enough of society and system for now. Lets go to forests together. One of the most amazing moments that happened to me in cloud forests is not easy to explain. It takes usually only about two seconds and happens when you do not expect it at all. It is a moment, when you stop on your trail for a while to get a deep breath. And here it is! In front of you. A hummingbird, a small incredible creature, literally staying in the air, and looking straight at you. Two meters from you. And just for the two seconds, then it is gone. Feeling like in a dream? Yes that's it!

Another ecological moment is a bit longer. This is a moment when you are lying in your tent in the middle of the night, not able to be asleep. Then, suddenly, you hear a bear approaching your site, going through bamboo very carefully. It comes very closely towards your tent and leaves. Again through bamboo. You can hear all the sounds the huge animal is making. Such a strong beast and still so peaceful and intelligent. Definitely worth of being the very protected!

Oh, I need to mention this one=). This moment belongs to the most unexpected I have ever had. Completely exhausted, flashed with a superstrong rain, we are declining from the mountains through a very narrow trail. Suddenly, I feel some pushing on my back. My swift turn follows meeting..a huge bull! Trying to get through me (yes, really) down to the valley. The scream I made was..animal-like and scared even the bull giving me two seconds to catch the closest tree/plant/whatever and get out of the trail. Flavio, my guide, did not make the scream, which cost him a wound and thorn trousers. The bull escaped from an enclosure that was higher in the mountains. Luckily, nobody got seriously hurt.

And the last moment? It is a pleasure that brings eating a roasted guinea pig after six hours of marching to Quinche and sleeping on a cold dusty ground. Definitely worth of all that. Goodnight for now.

Posted by Ef 18:48 Archived in Ecuador Comments (0)

Tranquilo? Tranquilo.

Week 1&2

all seasons in one day 20 °C

Tranquilo? Tranquilo. This is a password you shold keep in mind when coming here and not being from tropics. Rule number 1.

Even now when I am sitting in an internet cafe in Baeza waiting for a not coming email from an Ecuadorian, I am thinking about it. It actually began at the very first moment I entered Ecuador. I was expecting my supervisor to wait me at the airport. There was no supervisor, no phone call from him.

Rule number 2: Keep your Lonely Planet always close to you. This saved my first two nights in Quito ;).

After my arrival to Quito I fell like hangovered for two days. Quito is with its 2.800 m the highest capital in the world. The combination of jet-lag and theelevation caused my "hangover". This city seemed to me as one of the most colourful but also dirty places I have ever been to (sorry, I have not been in India yet ;). Ecuador has many tribes and etnic groups and all this mix is possible to see right in Quito. Moreover, there are many beautiful parks with epifyts (!) and colibris (!).

The rule number 1 is my favorite one, applied daily. Everything seems to be adventurous when you arrive here. Even going by bus! A crazy driver goes about 100 km/h through narrow roads and steep slopes. The bus is full of people, children, talking. Traditionally, we all can watch a movie full of aggression or sex. I think that this is the only movie that can keep one´s concentration, because the outside sceneries are awesome. Cloud forests and grassy paramos look even better than on internet pics. Suddenly, we are at 4.200 m a.s.l. This is the highest point on Earth I have ever been to! It came very suddenly.

All other possible actions on an Ecuadorian bus are also very adventurous! Such as standing, or paying, or getting out. The bus employs two persons; one driver and one...codriver..? What the driver does is already known. The codriver takes care of the door and making sure that everybody who enters the door also pays. To pay is not easy when you are standing. Not at all. While looking for your wallet in your backpack, all your other stuff just roll all over the bus. If you want to get out of the bus, you need to be on time. The bus does not really stop at the smaller busstops so you have to literally jump out of the bus.

Rule number 3: Do not trust all what they say.

Ecuadorian people are very humble and nice people. But taking with a bit of irony everything what they say may help you not having trouble. I found out that my intuition really counts here. I find that it is possible to see into people here a bit and recognize when they are saying something and meaning something else. However, after being almost four years in the "straight" Netherlands, this was quite a shock. Sentences such as: "No, five dollars per day is ok", or "Yes, I am really a forest manager", or "Do you love me?", tought me to trust here more what I feel than what I think. I am still learning, I must say.

The email from the Ecuadorian did not come. I will try to have the work done at home, in Baeza de las Palmas. Tranquilo.

Posted by Ef 14:34 Archived in Ecuador Tagged mountains people animals Comments (0)

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