Gabrielle Appiah

Day 4

 Posted by Gabrielle Appiah at 11:59 am  Ecuador  Comments Off on Day 4
Jul 112014

Today we harvested veg for our kitchen and got the chance to use the machetes. We started with the plantains. Jonas (pronounced Honas) makes using the machete look like a piece of cake but that it is not! We took it in turns to cut the plant and each time, in your mind you think you’ll do better at it but that definitely was not the case. It took 10 times as many swings of the machete than Honas had demonstrated and then took more time as we’d all get the machete jammed in the plant. What’s interesting is that we cut down the whole tree for 1 bunch of plantains. Moving onto what I’m best at harvesting, the yuka. It looks like yam/sweet potato and they eat it A LOT here in Ecuador. It grows a whole twig-like tree which needs to be chopped in order to pull it out of the ground. After chopping it with the machete which is far easier than the plantain tree, you have to find the right angle where it will come out with ease and voila, you get a bunch of 3-6 yukas. I got a pat on the back from Honas so I am over the moon with my yuka harvesting. Another interesting fact is that you plant the stem of the yuka tree in order for it to grow. After another tasty and hearty meal cooked by our beloved chef Alfredo, we returned to the reserve with 2 new Ecuadorian and far more experienced volunteers. We trekked to the cocoa trees and there we used the machetes to clear overgrowth around the trees. Having completed that task we cut down a few cocoa plants and cut them open to find what looked and felt like brains but tasted like a fusion of mango and pomegranate. After consecutive late nights we hit the pillow early.

Long time no post…

 Posted by Gabrielle Appiah at 11:54 am  Ecuador  Comments Off on Long time no post…
Jul 112014

Apologies all, I have been in the rainforest so access to the internet has been scarce. I´m writing this in an internet cafe in Tena (the nearest city to the reserve). Before I tell you about my amazing first day volunteering at Jatun Sacha I should tell you all the great things that happened before this post (WARNING: this will be a long post!)

Let´s rewind back to Sunday 29th – the dream team (made up of 5 awesome people from the community hostel and myself) went to the Telefonica (cable cars) in Quito where we saw some beautiful views of the city by day and night having spent the daylight hours hiking, ordering strangers to take pictures of us (Marrow), horseback riding in the Andes and met a Britney Spears lookalike. A funfair met us at the base where we spent a lot of time and money to end up winning a smiley plush toy (which I cherish dearly – thanks Uma). We missed the last taxi back down the mountain and succumb to hitchiking but in a pick-up truck which took us to the doorstep of our hostel for FREE – best first hitchiking experience ever! Our trip was followed by a delish Italian meal out. Monday 30th consisted of Ovi´s (great guy who works at the hostel) famous free tour of Old Town in Quito where we tried the tastiest juice I will ever have (for just $1)saw the Ecuadorian president and spent time in the extravagant churches. Ovi was also nice enough to take us to the equator where I was crowned ‘egg master’ (I was able to balance an egg on a pin on the equator). On Tuesday we visited the Angel which is a beautiful statue like Christ the Redeemer in Brazil with an alternative view of Quito. I was required to complete an orientation session before starting my volunteer program but I ended up at the biolgical reserve, Jatun Sacha 5 days early because I thought my orientation session was there (7 hours from where it actually was in Quito where I was staying already). I started off tearful about it but the people here are awesome, I was thrown into a match of soccer and I saw a Blue Morpho (the butterfly on the front of the book that influenced me to do this trip) so it was meant to be. Thursday was spent organising everything after the mishap and I decided to continue the plans I’d made to stay in Banos over the weekend (Friday to Sunday) with friends from the first hostel. Banos was brilliant! The hostel was nice as were the people and I had an amazing time canyoning and getting a pedicure in one of the many spas. As it is tourism-central most things opened late which is where your advice came in handy Alan. I’m yet to return on one of my free weekends to do more of the extreme sports.

Anywho, that was that and the real reason I am in Ecuador began today – to conserve the Amazon rainforest! Breakfast is at 6:30am and work starts at 7:30am so i’ve had a double shock to my body clock. It’s a 15 minute walk down the road to the reserve from where our cabins are (which are lovely, modest huts with electricity, 2 beds with mosquito nets and a table). When I went in my jaw dropped because of how B.E.A.Utiful it was and this is just secondary rainforest. We were greeted there by a senior volunteer, Kelly who is volunteering here for the third time. She gave us the shpeel on what work Jatun Sacha have done and what we were about to be apart of and it amazed me how much they have accomplished. The first task we completed was taking newly sprouted trees which had grown under the mother tree from fallen seeds and replanted them in bags of soil in the tree nursery. Having completed that we prepared more bags for new trees in the coming weeks. Lunch served by our masterchef, Alfredo was moy delicioso and we get a long enough break that we also get to enjoy time in the hammocks. After lunch we sieved soil ready for more bags for the trees. All in all it was an easy going, wonderful day.

I’ve arrived!

 Posted by Gabrielle Appiah at 3:31 am  Ecuador  Comments Off on I’ve arrived!
Jun 292014

So I’m here in Quito and it’s BYOOTIFUL!

On the way to Heathrow airport we drove past nearly every great tourist attraction in London (missing the ArcelorMittal Orbit – the best of them all) and staring out of the window looking at it all as if I was in a movie made me realise that I’d seen it all before and I was ready for some new scenery. I must say, the views here of towns on hill sides, etc. is definitely a new and FAB thing to see.

The flight was great and plane food isn’t as bad as people say. In my true procrastinating spirit, I watched ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ instead of reading my Spanish book (which showed when I arrived at the gate for my flight to Ecuador and couldn’t understand much). When I arrived in Miami, I didn’t anticipate its size and ended up spening my 3 hour stopover getting to my gate, but I did get to ride in a buggy for part of the way so I’m not complaining.

Whenever someone gets to an airport in a movie there’s someone waiting with their name and I was very excited for my turn. After getting through customs, there was Geovanna (my lovely volunteer coordinator) with my name on a whiteboard. Again, I underestimated distances and we drove for hours to get to the Community Hostel that I’m staying at. I’m here now and the food is delish and the room and people are lovely. I already managed to get myself locked in the bathroom which required a full toolbox but everyone here is so friendly and helpful. I had a late night chat with a few others staying in the hostel in my linen sleeping bag  (thanks a bunch!) which they found very amusing and now I have a well planned itinerary of amazing things – the one I’m most looking forward to at the minute is the zip line in Banos.

Today I’ll be doing the cable cars and a hike with my hostel mates which should be awesome and it’s also pasta night! I’ll keep you all updated! :)

~ G


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