It was really hot in Cusco today, which made me miss the piscina where we took showers nearly every day during our two weeks at the Reserva Tierra Linda. The piscina, as you may have guessed, is not actually a pool, but the river that runs past the lodge where we stayed. And it also functions as the sink, the dishwasher and the water supply.
It was a bit of a rough journey to get to the forest. 6 hours on twisting roads and then a 40 min walk in the dark that included crossing a river. Once we made it, we started each day by waking up at 7 to eat breakfast, and then after the dishes were washed, the work began. There were a lot of different jobs to do. For example, ecological surveys, looking for animals (or evidence of them). Sadly, we didn't see any monkeys or pumas, though we did see a lot of colourful birds and insects. We also did a lot of work in the biogarden, which they are trying to improve in order to make Tierra Linda more self-sustaining. A lot of the rainforest where Tierra Linda is now located was destroyed by cattle farming. While much of it has regrown, many of the tall trees that were home to animals did not grow back, replaced instead by shorter, parasitic trees. Using machetes, we cut down many of these trees and planted new ones that will hopefully grow into tall trees for animals to make their homes in. Finally, we helped improve the main road by putting down rocks and clearing trees. Some of us even helped to construct metal frames that will eventually become bridges.
It wasn't all work, of course. We also went on a river walk, which was super fun, even though we got soaked. There were several night walks as well, which were cool, if a bit creepy.
On Fridays, we travelled to Patria, a nearby town, to teach English to local children. It was definitely a challenge, more so than Karina. Some of them couldn't even read and write in Spanish, but they were super cute and most were eager to learn. We then had free time to buy snacks and use the Internet, before eating dinner at a local restaurant and heading back to Tierra Linda.
This project has definitely been my favourite that we have done so far (except for the mosquitoes. Not really a fan of them). It was sad to leave the new friends we had made with the staff and other volunteers.
The amazon is like no place I've been before and I'm so glad we got to go.