Molly Brown’s Diary
Climate Change, Canopies and Wildlife in the Ecuadorian Andes

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September 25, 2009: We're on our way now....

We all met for breakfast in the hostel and were very excited to leave. The bus arrived at 9 am and we were met by Tasha and Martin (a married couple working on the project) and Matt (a student at Sussex). We loaded all of our gear onto the bus but had to wait for one more person whose flight was delayed. I bought a little painting from a woman while we waited. Once on the minibus we drove north out of Quito and crossed the Equator on our way. Back in the Northern Hemisphere! A half hour into our ride we stopped at a petrol station and bought some snacks to take with us to the lodge. Then we continued on to the office at Santa Lucia’s base. Once we picked up Noe (he leads the bird survey for Santa Lucia) we went through the town at the base of the lodge to meet the mules and start the climb up the mountain. We have to walk up to 1920 meters to get to the lodge. I seriously underestimated the amount of work this would be! I am walking with Tony, Tasha, Matt, Miguel, and Edison. Miguel and Edison are both botanists in Quito. On the way up to the lodge we passed a farm and had walked for maybe 30 minutes when we came to a store. We stopped for a minute to take a water break. Then Tasha informed me I had just done the easiest part. I was not prepared for that statement! So we rested a while and then off we went to the trail. It was so steep, but gorgeous. It was really hard work. We made our way to the first rest stop (there are three on the way up to the lodge). We had some more water and then continued on to the lodge. While we were walking up, a guy with mules asked if we wanted a ride up to the lodge. I happily took him up on that offer. So I rode up to the lodge on the back of a mule. That was one scary, steep ride but it sure as heck beat walking the rest of that trail. When we all arrived at the lodge we were given fresh juice, legumes, rice and blanched cabbage after a bowl of potato soup. It was a fabulous meal! After that we walked around and learned where everything was located. The lodge (1920 m or 6299 ft) is a three story wooden lodge with showers and compost toilets outside. We are all staying in the new cabanas that they built. There are five cabanas located below the lodge and five of the six women are staying in one of them. So Agi, Jessica, Megan, Daniela, and I are all in the same cabana. After we got settled in we went up to the lodge for dinner. It was fresh pasta with a pesto sauce, fresh cheese, and banana cake. Dinner is at 7:30 pm every night. It is also the only time there is any lighting available that is not a headlamp. They have a solar panel and a generator that they use to power small appliances at dinner time. They also turn on the lighting in the lodge for dinner. All the power is switched off by 9 pm.


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