Tiputini

In order to get to the Tiputini Biodiversity Station, we took a bus to a plane to a bus to a boat to a really large staircase to a truck to a boat to another really large staircase to the station. Needless to say, this station was tucked away rather snuggly in the Amazon rainforest. Out of the whole trip, this place is my favorite. The station is literally one with the forest. The camp was built around a giant fig tree.

Integrated into the terrain of the forest were wooden planks set into the mud (In theory to prevent people from slipping, but I landed on my rear more times than I care to admit). There was a large building that served as the library, lecture halls, and office for the researchers.

The station housed students in little cabins that were split in two, each half holding 4 people.

This was the nicest station we stayed at, there was electricity for six hours a day and you didn’t have to go outside to pee! There was no hot water though, which made showering a rather chilling experience. The shower though, proved to be the bane of my existence.

The way the water system worked, to put it simply, is based on the Tiputini River that flowed at one edge of camp. The station pulls water from the river and runs it through a filtration system that cleans and treat the water so it’s at drinking quality. The down side to this though, is that only so much water can be treated at a time. This causes the water to be ‘out’ quite often, even when you’re showering. Well, I was the first to have the water run out on them while in the shower. It’s cold to begin with, so you wet-lather- rinse, turning off the water when you lather. I was standing in the shower, covered head to toe in soap, when I tried to turn the water on. The shower head sputtered, spit out a few drops, and then was silent. I’m standing there, completely naked, freezing, and covered in soap bubbles. I yell out to my roommates, informing them of my predicament. Luckily, they all had full water bottles. So now, I’m standing there, trying to rinse my hair out of someone’s camelback water bottle. The key to the water running out is to shut off the faucet so the whole bathroom doesn’t get wet. This important step was lost to me in my showering stupor. We ran away to lecture, the shower curtain pulled all the way open in haste, displaying the shower head to the floors and sink. In lecture, the other half of our cabin asked my roommates and I if we left our water running. My eyes nearly fell out of my head. I literally ran back to my cabin, accompanied by my buddy Sarah. We peeked our heads around the bathroom door frame like cartoon characters; what we saw was complete anarchy, a very very soggy anarchy. The shower was turned on still, this time there was running water. And boy howdy, was that water runnin’. The floor was covered in a 1/2 inch of water, the entered shower was flooded and spilling over; the bathroom looked like a small swamp. We screamed and went towel hunting. The thing about the amazon rainforest, is that nothing ever dries- not floors, not towels, and not walls. Because of my silly mistake, my cabin mates had to deal with a soggy room for the rest of the week.

Swamp bathrooms aside, we did a lot of cool things at Tiputini. We climbed all the way up into the canopy tower to go bird watching at 5:00am. While I am not the biggest fan of sitting around and watching birds, the view was spectacular.

I managed to kick my water bottle off the tower, which sent our field guide into a fit of giggles. Upon its retrieval, the bottom was completely cracked out, a perfect circle of plastic laying under the rest of the bottle. We settled into a routine, waking up at 6:00am everyday, lunch at noon, and dinner at 7 pm. The station came alive at night, filled with the sounds and shadows of crickets, frogs/toads, monkeys, and even giant armadillos, if you were lucky. The station had a certain charm that I have never seen anywhere else. The paths were filled with beautiful natural nuances you’ll never see out of the tropics.

The whole place was enchanting, like from a movie or story book.