Monday, January 24, 2011

First taste of the Amazon, and minor disasters

This has been an eventful week! We arrived in Lima as planned, with flights that were pretty excellent in terms of timeliness and lack of turbulence. 

Our first night, we stayed with a very nice Peruvian family recommended by our program director. Narda is a former program participant, and works on environmental impact studies (as does her husband) to support rainforest conservation. Her whole family is extremely friendly, and her mother welcomed us like long-lost friends. It was a great way to start the trip.

In the morning, our flight to Puerto Maldonado was slightly delayed, but program director Chris Kirkby and marketing guy Dave Johnston were also heading there from Lima, so we got to know them in the meantime. When we got here, we spent time setting up logistics for a brief jungle excursion before our program and having some tasty food. 

Into the Rainforest

And now, the rainforest: we got to Explorers Inn after a 3-hour boat trip up the Rio Tambopata, during which we saw lots of riverside agriculture/industry, along with a few Red-and-green Macaws and Chestnut-fronted Macaws.

Our guide, Ibeth, was fantastic...and a real trooper, as you'll see shortly. The next morning, we went on a 5.5-km walk to Lake Cocococha, a very hidden place with an awesome family of giant river otters, which we saw immediately from a blind!

Hoatzin have great hairdos.
On a paddle around the lake, we also saw neat birds including Hoatzin, which are very prehistoric-looking and have some holdover dinosaur traits like a claw on the wing in juveniles.

As we were hiking back, Ibeth was walking ahead of us on a bridge, when she suddenly slipped and fell about 10-15 feet into a stream. We were horrified, but relieved when we saw that she was mostly okay, except for a hurt shoulder (no blood, lots of bruising). With only a little help, she was able to make it the 2 km back to the lodge.

Friends, don't worry: we're being very careful out there on the trails--now more than ever--and made a recommendation to the lodge to immediately fix the bridges.

We got back to Puerto Maldonado yesterday and spent the night at the awesome new Fauna Forever house. We'd show you pictures, BUT...

Camera Woes

Many of you may know how much we love our camera, and how much time we've spent making sure we had the right equipment for this trip. Doesn't it just figure, then, that it would die not even a week into the trip?

Last night, we downloaded photos to the computer with no problem. A short time later, went to turn it back on to change a few settings...nothing. No frame count, no power whatsoever. We have a few tricks to try, but this may be the most boring photo blog ever if we don't succeed.

So, to any Nikon users out there: tips for reviving a dead D300s? We're using silica, we'll clean the contacts, and we'll try a hard reset. Barring that, back to the states for a warranty repair, and hopefully we'll have it back by Costa Rica!

And with that, we leave you. Send us your positive camera thoughts.

Tomorrow, we're off to the rainforest again, and won't have internet access until mid-February, when we'll hopefully have more to share!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A little background

A little over 10 years ago, we started dating. Maybe 9 years ago, we started talking about taking an extended trip to do something interesting abroad some day. This year, we realized it was time. 

We've been enjoying hiking vacations in the rainforest for a while now, and recently started learning to mist-net and band birds for population studies, so we found volunteer programs that combine the two, and are leaving on a six-month trip tomorrow (Boston weather permitting...).

We're hoping to post our trip photos here, and maybe write a little (but not too much) about what we're up to. Our internet access will be spotty at best for the first month and a half, when we're in Peru with Fauna Forever Tambopata, but should become more regular when we go to Kekoldi in Costa Rica.

The basics: we're helping with bird and rainforest conservation with these two organizations, hoping to see some other neat animals as well, and toward the end of our six months, we're taking some time to travel in Costa Rica on a budget.

Eyelash palm pit viper, from previous trip to Costa Rica
Excited about:
Nervous about:
  • Meeting new people
  • Getting sick from bad food
  • Theft and other travel perils
More to follow once we get there...