Location: Limoncocha Biological Reserve
Beginning with a bit of a rocky start, we managed to get to breakfast by 6:30 most of us. We all slowly trickled into a delicious breakfast of scrambled or fried eggs with papaya and some of the best pancakes I have ever had. Breakfast finished up with some coffee or tea, and we began to get ready for our very first day of service! About 15 minutes later we boarded the boat following our fearless leader Hector the Protector. Cruising down the Napo River in the ever-expansive Amazon Rainforest. We waited optimistically for the skies to clear up so we wouldn’t be soaked while working all day. Like an answer to our prayers, Hector guided us out of the rain and into some much-welcomed sunshine. Suddenly, not only just one but TWO rainbows stretched across the entire river. Everybody was able to see every single color in the ROYGBIV of the rainbow. The ride was about an hour long, but we soon reached Limoncocha where we’d be working with the world-renowned Limoncocha Biological Reserve. Getting off the boat we were separated into two groups to get to the reserve. Some rode in a bus while others sat in the pickup truck. However, the lucky few of us: Katie, Orlando, Tommy, Josh, Will, and I, rode in the bed of the truck. At first glance, it sounds dangerous, but very quickly I realized these remote Amazonian roads are exponentially superior to my usual suburban Massachusetts roads. In what seemed like no time at all, we arrived at the Limoncocha Biological Reserve. We were soon met by the water-bird specialist who introduced us to the compound, the local birds, their work at the reserve, and their desire to modernize to attract more birdwatchers to promote ecotourism. After a quick chat with her, we were on our way to see the birds for ourselves. We headed down into the boat for a tour around the lagoon to see some rare and some common Amazonian birds. We saw things such as the stinky turkey (what the locals called the bird), a sloth, howler monkeys, wooly monkeys, and many many more birds. Then we went back to the reserve for lunch and to start working. After lunch, we split up into three groups, some diggers, some plant-pullers, and some who put dirt in bags to prepare to plant palms. We worked under the hot sun for a few hours, but time really flew by, and soon we were all back together planting and playing games while we worked. We finished planting and began to practice our machete throwing skills. Felix, Camilla, and Tommy shined, while others, namely Will, Hugo, and Orlando struggled. We headed back to the eco-lodge, and some slept on the way, while others were slept on. Later that night, we ended the day with a LifeWorks forum where the group journaled and talked about “what is service,” which it benefits positively and negatively and our role in the world. Later we had some free time before lights out at 10 pm.