Agnes Jozsa’s Diary
Climate Change, Canopies and Wildlife in the Ecuadorian Andes
September 24, 2009: Beautiful Quito
It is 7:00 pm and I am sitting in my hotel room again. I have not slept much lately and it is hard to get used to the local time zone, but I am not complaining, because we had a lovely day together.
This morning new group members joined us: Anna from Canada and Tony from the Netherlands. We started our tour visiting a place called TeleferiQo located on Cruz Loma, one of the hills which surrounding the active volcano Pichincha. (15,000 feet above sea level). Cable cars carried the tourist to the peak and there was a breathtaking view beneath us, enchanting moorlands and fascinating vegetation of the Andean Highlands. We took many photos and we were amazed by the view.
Standing on the top of the hill was wonderful. We were lucky as the weather was clear and sunny. There was a lovely restaurant next to the cable car station that overlooked the whole city of Quito and we could see the other volcanoes and rugged hills in the distance.
Then we continued our sightseeing in the old city centre where, to my greatest surprise, I found a statue of one of the greatest Hungarian freedom-fighters and poets, Sandor Petofi. I was so proud that the hero of our small country had a statue on the other side of the planet. I took a photo of him. We just wandered around the streets looking at the colourful houses and soaked up the atmosphere of the vibrant city. Quito was so different from any European city and we all found it exotic and exciting.
We found a nice restaurant and we had lunch there. We tried the local specialities which were a bit spicy for my liking but they were really tasty. Since we were walking all day long after having dinner we all got sleepy but we enjoyed our first day in Ecuador.
I am going to read a bit before sleeping. Tomorrow we are off to the rainforest. I can't wait! Good night:)
September 23, 2009: Finally there.
Hooray! After an adventurous journey I have just arrived in Quito. Unfortunately I lost two days because in Madrid my plane was cancelled due to engine problems. We all were sitting patiently at the airport till 5am, when a flight assistant came up to us and told us to follow her to the buses because we would be spending the night in a hotel. My hotel room was nicely furnished and comfortable but I could hardly manage to sleep.
In the morning I went to the restaurant of the hotel where we got delicious breakfast and after some cups of coffee I felt better and had a conversation with my fellow travelers. I phoned my family up and tried to reassure them that problems with the engine of a plane happened sometimes. I sounded convincing but to tell the truth I was a bit nervous about the 13-hour flight above the Atlantic ocean. Fortunately a kind couple from Romania joined me and we went back to the airport together.
We were told that our plane went to Guayaquil not to Quito. Thank goodness the flight was smooth and pleasant. In Guayaquil I had to spend one more night in a hotel, then took another plane to Quito.
But now I am sitting in my cozy hotel room. I have jet lag so I can't sleep, though I am tired. There is 7 hours difference between the time zones of Hungary and Ecuador. Despite my tiredness I am full of joy and happiness.
I have already met my new travel mates, Molly and Denis. They both have been really kind and we've planned to visit the city together.
The name of my hotel is Posada del Maple and it is really colorful. The walls, the furniture and the whole hotel have vivid colours that make the atmosphere freindly and lively. In Europe we are not used to such bright and fresh colours but I find it amazing. So my very first impressions of Ecuador are really good.
I am looking forward to seeing the capital city tomorrow. Good night:)
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September 20, 2009: Ready to go
Only one day left before my journey begins. I've packed everything into my rucksack, which is really huge and heavy. It is almost 20 kgs, and I am bringing only the most necessary things with me. I try to lift it up..it feels as if there were bricks in it.
I can’t imagine how I will be able to handle all my stuff. Tomorrow afternoon I am flying from Budapest to Madrid, then I am going to change for another plane to Quito.
It will be a tiring and long flight. I have never flown such a long distance before. My family members are more nervous than I am. I have already promised them at least 50 times that I will send a text message as soon as the plane lands in Madrid and I will find a way to let them know that I am alive from the rainforest too.
I am a bit apprehensive because I have to travel alone, but I have been waiting for this journey for months and I can't wait to see the Andes and Ecuador.:)
May 3, 2009: Earthwatch Fellows are Everywhere
So I'm starting to prepare for this journey. I have a lot of work to do: arrange airline tickets, accommodations and vaccinations; order guidebooks, and learn Spanish! I’m lucky because one of my colleagues is Ecuadorian and he is teaching me some Spanish. Coincidentally, he is one of my colleagues who took part last year in an Earthwatch expediton in Australia. You can read about it here in César Zuleta's diary.
You know how If you focus on something, you run into it everywhere? It turns out my new boss was an Earthwatch Fellow too last year. You can read Vivienne Talbot’s exciting diary here.
In the meantime, I get my Expedition briefing and read a lot about our project, and surf the Net to gain more information about Ecuador, rainforests, wildlife and ecosystems. I love it! Next time I will write about it. I hope you are waiting for it.
March 19, 2009: Dream Come True
This afternoon I get an email, and I can't believe what it says: ’Congratulations! You have been selected to be a 2009 Alcoa Earthwatch Fellow. You are headed out on Climate Change, Canopies and Wildlife to work with field scientists.’
I've never felt this way after reading an email. Not only have I been selected, which is amazing to me, but I've also been chose for the project I wanted: Ecuador. I run to my boss and shout, "I won, I won!!!!" Afterwards, I call my family and tell them the news, and they say they knew it, because I wanted it so very much.
March 18, 2009: Anticipation
Three months left and I start to think I’m crazy, because I check the Alcoa Earthwatch Intranet site daily for information about the winners. Sometimes I feel I have no chance, because surely lot of people applied for this great opportunity, and why me…? But… I don’t know why but I feel I have to win…! I have to go there…! I will see the rainforest and be part of this expedition!!! Yes, I’m crazy.
December 19, 2008: The Dream Begins
Before my Christmas holiday I got an email about the Earthwatch Fellowship program, and I decided I would apply for it. It was an easy decision, because I already had some information about this opportunity. Over the last 3 years, since I began working for Alcoa, three of my colleagues have been selected for this program. From them, I learned a lot about the activities and purpose of the Earthwatch organization. The values of Earthwatch and the enthusiasm of my colleagues, conviced me that being an Alcoa Earthwatch Fellow would be one of the greatest experiences of my life. Through the project, I could become personally involved in issues that are important for me and for everybody who cares about environmental protection and our sustainable future.
Five different projects are avaible in the coming year. Each of them deals with important questions and provides an excellent opportunity to help and to be part of a project that could change our future and add real value to environmental protection.
But to tell the truth, my dream is going to South America to the rainforests and encounter the wonderful wildlife. So, the dream is beginning.