Friday, March 21, 2008

Posted by Bejat

We headed into the station with immense relief. The excitement had been building for so long that it was relaxing to get on the river for the days journey into the station. The day was amazingly beautiful. It started off a bit overcast and turned into a stellar sunny blue-sky day with just a touch of rain at the end. Once we had traveled for about 2 hours on the Napo we entered the oil road and crossed thru their checkpoint where our bags were scanned and checked for alcohol and contra-ban. Then we proceeded to get the ranchero loaded with supplies and gear and students, since we entered with a student group from the University of San Francisco de Quito. We proceeded our travels on the gravel/dirt oil road, called the Via Maxxis for 2 hours.

The destruction along this road is progressively worse with each passing day. The indigenous in the area are the Quichua and Waorani and they have settled along the road, tearing up the forest for crops and over-hunting all species. The oil companies rounded them all up with missionary assistance and placed them alongside the road to keep an eye on them while they ravish the land. The oil companies keep them happy by providing them with rides along the road to hunt, boat motors for their dugout canoes, apples, coke, etc. It is even rumored that they provided them with guns and bullets for hunting.

Now they’ve had a taste of the Western world, there is no stopping the constant gorging. It is unfortunate, however, that they honestly don’t know what to do with all these changes. Their lives have changed and they are now malnourished, developing diseases that they never had before and losing their culture.
Once we have passed on the road we take another boat for 2 hours down the Rio Tiputini.

Here’s where the absolute beauty begins. The river was neither high nor low and the birding was fantastic. We maybe saw countless species of birds on the Tiputini. We even got a brief bit of rain to cool it down towards the end, how fantastic is that? Que bestia! We entered the Tiputini Biodiversity Research Station (TBS) to see all our old friends who work at the station and even some new ones, like Lucha, the pet Trumpeter. The new lab is complete, it is two stories tall and it’s made out of metal and cement board. It should last for a VERY long time. It is quite impressive and we even have our own office, it’s huge! I feel like a princess in a palace. Plenty of room for the frogs, lizards and snakes to hop, scamper and slither about the place. It also allows us privacy for processing these critters, which is excellent. We unpacked, showered, ate and slept so perfectly well; it all feels like a dream.

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