ShelbySkinner's Travel Journals

ShelbySkinner

  • 26 years old
  • From Yellowknife, Canada
  • Currently in San Jose, Costa Rica

My adventures through Costa Rica, Peru, and Ecuador

Weekly updates of my trip

Last Days in Peru and First Impressions of Ecuador

Ecuador Quito, Ecuador  |  Nov 09, 2014
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This is my last week at the MLC and my last week in Peru! I have mixed feelings about leaving because I will miss the jungle but I am also ready for a change of scenery and routine. I am both physically and mentally ready to move on but I also realize what a unique and extraordinary experience this was. Not many people can say that they lived and worked in the Amazon Rainforest!

Monday morning I completed my last Colpa with Jenni. It was a quiet morning due to a major thunderstorm we had last night. I took some video with my camera so people back home will better understand what we do and see at 5 am. I also did a butterfly transect with Kitty, Lisa, and Alberto. A butterfly transect involves walking the trail with a net and catching, or trying to catch, all the butterflies that we see. The trail we were on was super steep so in some spots I was focusing more on getting up the hill than catching butterflies ;) It was super humid as well so I was dripping with sweat even though you walk slow during these transects. We got back around one so we had spent about four hours in the forest. That afternoon I was on butterfly net repair which isn't much fun but it is really chill.

Tuesday was a super long day for Kitty, Danny, and I. We started butterfly traps at 8:30 and didn't get back to the MLC until 7 pm! We had about 15 traps to check and all of them were full of butterflies; one trap had at least 40 butterflies in it! All three of us were IDing butterflies at the same time to try and speed up the process. By 4:30 we still had 6 traps to check and we should have stopped but we kept going hoping we could finish them all. It started getting dark around 5:30 so Kitty led us back to the MLC. Luckily I had my headlamp because it was pitch black by 6! Kitty left us to run back to camp to tell everyone that we were fine just running late. So Danny and I walked 2 km back in the dark and luckily nothing going bad happened. We were greeted by Alberto on the trail close to camp and Kitty shortly after that. I was so happy when we got back to the MLC. My feet were once again killing me and I was so exhausted from only having 2 L of water for nearly a 12 hour day in the forest. There was a nice surprise waiting for us with our dinner when we got back, cake! I pretty much ate and then hit the sack.

Wednesday was my last working day at the MLC. I was in the biogardens with Jonathon and Nica for the morning. They dug a garden bed 30 cm deep while I weeded the paths. It was so hot, 36 degrees by lunch time! We ended a bit early because it was just too hot. It poured rain in the afternoon so biogardens was canceled. We had a crazy thunderstorm with lots of loud thunder and closeflashes of lightening. The lightening actually struck the hammock area sending two interns running for their lives to the Commodore. There was a bright red light that was produced when the lightening stuck. There was a group still out in the forest so we were preparing to have to go and get them. They returned soaking wet but fine other than that. That night we had a delicious dinner made by Sahika and then a leaving presentation of our group, two interns, and one staff member.

Thursday was just a traveling day. We left the MLC at 8 and took our last boat ride back to Atalaya where we ran into two other staff members and the new volunteers. We didn't make as many stops on the way back and made good time. We got to Cusco at 4:30 but it took us another hour to get to the CREES office due to traffic. We collected our stuff, paid or got money back from the bar tab, and then headed to the hostel. We went to a nice Peruvian restaurant for dinner and I had Alpaca stroganoff and it was so yummy. I wasn't so thrilled to see rice on my plate but the stroganoff was worth it. We ended the night at an Irish pub called Paddy's where we all ate brownies and Lisa and I had a shot of Baileys. 

Friday was my last day in Cusco and it was crazy busy. I was still on MLC time and woke up wide awake at 5 am even though I didn't need to be up until 8! We got our CREES shirts from Edwin and then I left to meet Simon from breakfast at Jacks. I was bad and had a chocolate milkshake and french Toast for breakfast, so good! I met the group for lunch at a vegetarian restaurant, Green Point, which was amazing. I had the set menu which was salad bar, soup, hummus, spring rolls, and chianti cake. All this food only cost me $3! I still can't get used to how cheap everything is in Peru! Sahika and I said our goodbyes to the group and then moved to our new accommodation which was really nice. I was supposed to have an interview that afternoon but when I called they had not received my email agreeing to the interview so they weren't prepared and weren't willing to wait a few weeks for the next time I would have reliable phone access. I was pretty bummed after that so Sahika and I went shopping which solved that problem. I bought lots of beautiful things for family, friends, and of course myself ;) Sahika and I had dessert for dinner at my favorite cafe. We shared chocolate cake and lemon meringue cake which was so good.

Saturday was another travel day for me. We had to be at the airport for 6:30 to catch our 8 flight. It was nice that Sahika and I were on the same flight so we could postpone the goodbyes. We saw Nicola at the airport and chatted with her for a bit before having to board our plane. The airport seemed much warmer this time through. We were a little late leaving so I had to bolt to go through immigration and get on my next flight to Quito. I got to the gate just as they were calling last call, too close for comfort! The flight was good, I am really impressed with Avianca. When I arrived in Quitoi was greeted by Franklin the taxi driver. He was super helpful with information about Quitoand Ecuador in general. I was shocked to find out that the airport wasn't actually in Quito and we had a one hour drive to my hostel! I met with the program coordinator for lunch/dinner at a Ecuadorian/American restaurant. I had fries, salad, and chicken rolls that were to die for! I also had a fresh fruit juice which was equally yummy. I got to call Mom and Dad tonight and it was nice to talk to them and hear about their cruise. It had been a long time since I had heard their voices so it was really good. 

Sunday I was left to explore Quito on my own. I had a lovely breakfast at the hostel with cantaloupe, eggs, bread, and fresh juice. I chatted with a guy from San Francisco for a bit and then headed out. I found a market and lots of vendors in a huge park about 15 minutes from my hostel. I then wondered off to Old Town. I ended up taking a bus because it was 8 blocks uphill. The architecture was incredible in this part of town. There were lots of old churches and museums. I stopped in two churches which were very different on the inside. The one had paintings on the walls and wood carvings on the ceiling while the other had gold sculptures and no wood. I listened to a bit of a sermon which was in Spanish. I did some Window shopping and had a nice lunch at a cafe. They had an amazing brownie with a walnut bottom! Yum! I then wondered down to the market but it had just closed. Hopefully can check it out when I return. It poured rain as I was heading back to the hostel so I opted for a taxi back. I went and had a giant pizza for dinner with mushrooms, ham, olives, and artichoke. It was so good it brought the leftovers home for breakfast in the morning. I also had to have the tirmisu which was equally as good! 

Well I am off to the jungle again! This place will not be as remote or basic as the MLC. I will have access to a pool, Internet, and am only a few kilometers from a major city. Sounds like a five star resort to me ;) Ciao for now!

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