Coast to Coast

We took a hike to a boat to a truck to a boat to a truck to an airplane to a bus to get back to the hotel in Quito. Upon arriving at the hotel, we all stripped and ran to the nearest Laundromat practically in towels, praising the laundry gods for their benevolence. It was sad to leave the rainforest, but man it was nice to have a warm shower and to not be in the super humidity.

We set out the next day, embarking on a 6-hour journey to the coast. I get car sick in large vehicles in South America. So sick, in fact, that I need to take 2-3 Dramamine pills to just not throw up. I spent the majority of the ride lying curled up on my side. We stopped at a super cool fruit market, though. And it was there that I was first introduced to the Lychee fruit.

It looks like something a dragon would spit up.

 

There is a big pit in the middle that is not tasty if you munch on it. I learned that the hard way. It tastes like rubber, plastic, and gasoline all mixed together.

When we got to the Lalo Loor Biodiversity Station, it was about a 20-minute hike up the field station.

The cabin was very open, with little straw-like walls separating the four person rooms. The beds were bunked, each twin mattress had it’s own brightly colored mosquito net. Every single conversation could be heard by the ENTIRE station.

The Dry Forest, or Bosque Seco in Spanish, is a very interesting ecosystem. There are tropical trees, like the Ceiba, draped in climbing vines right next to colossal cacti. Every plant has the ability to withstand the months of drought and the months of intense rain.

A major component of the Lalo Loor station was the Howler Monkeys. These infernal things would start howling at 5:00am, and not stop until sun down. All damn day, these things fervently announced their presence to the world, at decibels previously unknown to me.

After the first week on the coast,the whole group camped on the beach!

It was very nice, calm, and relaxing to just sit around for a weekend after weeks of running around forests, lectures, and field notes. There was also a beach that a few of us would walk to after lecture, right outside the little town of Tabuga.

We took various outings individually and as a group. With a few of the students, I went to the town of Pedernales. It involved a 45 minute bus ride next to an Ecuadorian man who asked me to marry him. As a group, we went to the mangroves and to a shrimp hatchery.

The shrimp hatchery had three dogs who were just adorable and awesome!

It also had shrimp

It was in the Bosque Seco that we did our individual research projects. My partner and my project involved catching a bunch of grasshoppers. This was a difficult and time-consuming thing to do. Those critters jump really fast, and you look ridiculous crawling around on the ground chasing after them. At the research projects’ completion, there was the final exam. After that, we packed up all our stuff, made the hike down, and piled onto the bus. I wasn’t to bummed about leaving, I didn’t fall in love with the dry forest the way I did with the rainforest or cloud forest. But, every forest has its place, and each is amazing and beautiful in its own right.