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Summer in the Cloud Forest

July 15, 2012

Shyama and Amanda, on a hike in their new back yard.

     Greetings from the new managers at Reserva Las Tangaras! Amanda and Shyama hail most recently from Southern California and are thrilled with the opportunity to join LifeNet´s team in the cloud forests of Mindo. We both have a lifelong passion for travel and environmental preservation that has been cultivatd over the years, and now continues to grow amidst the beautiful environs of Ecuador. 


Chopping away at the downed tree.

     First and foremost, our heartfelt thanks to the previous managers, Katie and Luke, for doing an excellent job of showing us the ropes and easing our transition into life on the reserve. We were lucky enough to arrive at Reserva Las Tangaras during the beginning of the dry season, and decided to take this opportunity to begin several trail maintenance projects that weren´t as feasible during the rainy months. We began by clearing all of the trails, then proceeded to work on a few rough patches of the Guillermo Trail. This is a scenic trail that meanders through the forest, following the Nambillo River, and gives access to a pair of enticing swimming holes. The first task was to reinforce an eroded section of trail that had grown narrow from heavy rain and small landslides. We went on to create a series of steps over a steeper part of the path, making the hike less strenuous for visitors. 


The final product of our labors on Sendero Fuente de Agua.

     Our next project was along the Fuente de Agua Trail, which follows the cabin´s water line high up a mountain stream to the source of our fresh drinking water. A downed tree had fallen against a standing one some months ago, pinching the water line and restricting the flow. We went to work with the handsaw, sweating away amidst one of the most beautiful settings we´ve had the privilege of residing in. We took turns going at the downed tree, alternating between handsaw and hatchet, with a Tawny Bellied Hermit constantly distracting Amanda by swooping down and drinking from a trickling spring beside us. It took most of the afternoon, but 4 hours later, with a growing mound of swatted mosquitos at our feet, we looked on proudly at the tree we´d sawn in half. Of course now we were faced with the prospect of moving this 8 foot long, water logged tree trunk off the trail. So with many a “heave ho!”, and lots of “don´t let it roll on your foot!”, we finally pushed that big lug off the trail. A small, exhausted celebration ensued and there were at least 2 high-fives that I recall. To say we were perhaps a bit overly proud of our accomplishment would be putting it mildly. We ate well that night, and slept even better.  

     And so our term at Las Tangaras has begun. It´s magical to witness, on the rare occasion, a sunrise over the cloud forest as the Andean Cocks of the Rock perform their daily raucous behavior. It continues to be a learning experience identifying the new hummingbird species that have begun frequenting the cabin´s feeders as the season changes. So for those intrepid travellers, avid bird watchers and nature enthusiasts who read this, we strongly encourage you to visit this cloud forest paradise. When you can see the cabin and catch the scent of fresh banana pancakes or homemade tortillas, you´ll know you´ve made it. 


5 Comments leave one →
  1. Taj permalink
    July 21, 2012 3:06 am

    Hey! I know those smiling, devoted environmental advocates. Looks breath-taking, inspiring,… and tiring! Miss you both enormously, but simultaneously proud and envious. ~sköl -taj


  2. Steve permalink
    July 21, 2012 3:41 am

    You two make it sound so homely there! I would like to point out some subtle differences from your life in the states though: Your dinners probably smell and taste different, your house cleaning now involves evicting wolf spiders from the cabin, oh and yard work now includes the use of a machete. Yet it easily sounds like home for you two. I love your first post and can’t wait to hear more loquacious riffs about life in the Cloud Forest.


  3. Alicia permalink
    July 24, 2012 11:07 am

    Very well written, Mandy! Love ya.


  4. Aunt Belen permalink
    July 25, 2012 6:35 am

    Hi Amanda & Shyma, looks like you are working hard for a living 🙂 We love you and thanks for keeping us posted.


  5. Katie Crossman permalink
    July 25, 2012 4:33 pm

    Hey guys!! Great first blog! So happy to hear you were able to be the ones who finally took care of the tree on Fuente de Agua! Great job to you both!! Hope all is well!!


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