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 ECUADOR   3                          18/9-4/11 2009
                           The Spectacled Bear Project

Diary 1   2   3   4


 This is part three of my diary from the Bear Project.  It all starts in Part 1.

12. Lazy start on the day while Henriette and I wait for Samuel. I spend an hour cleaning the kitchen. Just removing mummified and rotten food, get the stove whitLong, dusty roade again and run a wet cloth over the surfaces. It seems like our "Nanny" only spent time here when we are at home. She even don't seem to be bothered, if we do the dish washes or other of her work while she sits on the porch knitting or chatting with her girlfriend. Could be cool if she did the cleaning I have done...

 The CrewAt ten, Angela passes bye, dropping her bags and telling us that the tour Henriette and I was suppose to go on this afternoon is postponed until tomorrow. That explains why Samuel haven't been bye yet.

 The tiny flies which have been found on the porch in the last week are getting a real nuisance. They are only two millimetres, but their bite itches for days. Guess that is kind of lucky gotten over, after all.

 At twelve, Henriette and I walk down to Apuela to use the internet. It is finally open, and we uses an hour and a half, being in contact with the rest of the world. I send a application for a research assistant job in Honduras at the Projecto Wallacea, which Sara have been on. Many people do realTiny old man collecting firewood research on many species of plants and animals.

 We get a lift back to the hut, and jumps of, just as it starts to drip. Dinner seems to be a major hazel now Cecilia isn't here - as any other 2 mm, but itchySunday. I feel I done mine, cleaning up the kitchen, and keep a low profile.

 Around five, it starts to rain gently, and I'm desperately enough to start arranging some dinner. Like the last two Sundays, the choice is homemade pizza. It is a "shake the fritz" version, with most of the eatable things left in the kitchen like avocados, tuna, carrots, leftover steak, onions, pineapple and broccoli, but only four tomatoes. I cut it all into small pieces, and the dough is a Richard-Sara project, while Angelina make salad. We get to eat around eight. A short game of cards between "the old crew", and it is time to go to bed.

 13. The rain have continued, but still real gently, during the night, and we wake up to a dust free environment. After the rest have left, Henriette and I do a final packing, counting on the info we have gotten so fare, sticks. Then I make a avocado picker, which is rather hard: No material, no tools.

 As part of my "make the office/living room cosy", I get rite of some concrete bricks someone have used to dry flowers in-between, and pack some parts of tents together. Then I find the burial site for trash in the forest behind the house, and torch in the trash I have gathered around the house.

 Some dead branches, large stones and old tyres lying in the driveway get removed and the "dish washing area" cleaned too. Then a shower which starts with cleaning the black, slimy layer of the concrete. We are so ready, but Samuel does not seem to turn up today either, and we are wondering if we should catch the bus at three or not. He might be helping a friend harvesting or something, but we have no way contacting him to be sure. Hoping Anna will be back before three, to tell us, if we are going or not.

 Passes a road accidenseAs usual, the clouds start gathering over the mountains at two, and the temperature drops from 28C to 18C. It feels real cold these days the even colder wind is blowing. I am getting so restless by this "unemployment", and I have to get a grip at my selves, not to start renovating the cobblestone driveway or something even stupider.

 The new jungle tour; The Lutcho Tour starts - as the other one - We are back in jungleby the three o'clock bus to Cuellaje (at half pass). Samuel are not at home, and Henriette and I check out Cuellaje. Then we sit and talk in front of the house until dinner is ready. Finally, a slightly drunk Samuel and fresh Sara turns up. Apparently; Sara have decided to join in the last moment. We head for bed at eight, and listen to the steady rain all night.

 13. The rain stops at dawn, and after breakfast, Samuel get the horses from his father's house. But rather openWe leave Cuellaje [1865 mos] at half pass nine, and head, with the two horses to Lutcho's farm sheet to setup base camp. Separate highlight photos from this tour [EC2-2920-3320].Steep trail

 I've been searching for a map of the area, but is is apparently just a white area - or green on Google Maps. Tried the coordinates from the GPS on Google Maps, but apparently, it is an other format, and I don't get it in Spanish! Anyway; we have Samuel who are familiar with the area, and we are navigating by GMT; General Markings on Trees.Lush farmland

 The start of the trail is harsh; 30-45 degree assent for one hour! Then a slightly flatter ridge for an hour, and then we enters the rainforest on a new, steep assent. It is a hot and steamy tour. The sun is direct on the assent, and this night's rain makes it very moist and hot. At one o'clock, we have a fast lunch in 2885 metres height, and we reaches the Lutcho's basic hut at two in 3083 mos [17N0765218 UTH 004400]. The tour is known to take seven hours, and we have done pretty fine. Cloud forest

 Lutcho's hut outsideThis is real luxury compared with the earlier tour: Running water, a hut with wooden floor and open fireplace inside. There are even plenty of not-so-wet fire right outside, of which I chop enough for our stay. The others clear the hut and sets up our tent next to the farmers - inside the hut.

 We get the fire going, and after our only cup of coffee, we start cooking dinner. The rain gains strength, and we enjoy the hut and the fire during the cold early evening. We all hit the bag at seven, but I keep freezing all through the night, although I Lutcho's open fireplacewear both fleece and thick jacket in the sleeping bag. It have dropped from this mornings 28C to 15C, and we can see through the walls of the cabin.

14. The day starts at seven, and I have been longing for the hot sun. Instead, I get a light rain. Looking for hairsThat passes when we head steep uphill behind the hut. This is a more open rainforest, and there are an old and rather easy path, although it is steep. At ten, we passes the top at 3450 mos.

 Then, after a half hour,  we find the first bear signs. Pieces of bromeliads are found around a tree, and there are clear pore marks in the mosses on the stem. After a short lunch break we start finding bear- and puma hairs on stems. Some are from markings, other from rubbings. We are only supposed to remove the old hairs, but I gather them for souvenir. Low PanamoYeat a new orchid

 Besides from the bear signs, I photo some orchids and other plants. Here are surprisingly few animals; even insects are hard to find! The forest are general rather open, with stems covered in five centimetres of mosses and lichens. Few parts of the area is overgrown with are a ginger-like plant, others are dominated by bamboo.

 A short detour brings us to a narrow, low paramo with huge grass plants. Here, two volunteers have been watching a bear trap, sitting under a small grass roof. I do prefer the hut! Around one, we turn back towards the hut [at 17N0763221 UHT 0044106]. Bear schrachingsI have heard some parrots in the past, but this time a actually see them: Rose-Faced Parrot, Pionopsitta pulchra - or something close.

Bear droppings with bromeliad seeds When we reaches the hut at three, I have a bad headache. I have forgotten to drink, during the sweaty late morning, and are punished severely. Grab a bit of food and drink, and then into the bag. Head and neck hurts, stomach like a tumbler, can't get my breath and on top of that: It is freezing cold! The others prepares dinner and play cards to eight.

 I feel better around midnight, and some later, I hear a bear growl within 2-300 metres. Real strong and deep, human-dog like. Freezes through the whole night, and don't get much if any sleep.

 15. We pack our gear together and are ready to leave the hut at half pass eight. The tour is mainly downwards, but there are some exceptions! I find some orchids I missed on the way up, and Cotopaxi with its snow-cap and sun on the top is visible most of the tour. Cotopaxi with snowHuge bromeliads

 We reaches Cuellaje after only three and a half hour hard walking, only to find the milk truck have left ten minutes before. Sara wants to stay while Henriette and I would like to get back to the bear hut for washing and a descent bed.

 Samuel say there are no more milk trucks or busses today, and the chance of getting a lift is next to nothing. Never the less, Henriette and I take the chance. Orchids and bromeliadsWe barely reaches the city limit before we are taken up by a pick-up from the electricity companyLast view at the cloud forest.

 We get a rite all the way to Apuela, and fast! Henriette checks E-mails while I plunder the candy/ice department at the local shop. Half an hour later, we are joined by Richard who have been hunting slaughtered chicken. We wait for a few minutes, and get a lift to the bear hut as early as half pass two - and with a milk truck!

 I sort the things from my bag pack, put the laundry in a big bucket with soap water. A well deserved shower, and it is time for photos. Only 400 which are cut down to 300 by the first rough look through. Re-sized and sorted into groups, tagged and the diary. Finish at nine, and join the others in the kitchen - except they have gone to bed...Washing water after jungle tour

 16. Get up early to do my laundry. The soaking over night have worked, and the water resample the colour of real strong coffee with the thickness of real good hot chocolate. The sun should dry it before the usual two o'clock rain starts - if just we are back from the Tabbachupa tour in time...

 Sara, Henriette and I am guided by Armando up the steep Steep start on the trailhill and into the bamboo forest. We see several tracks from bears like processed bamboo and torn apart bromeliads. It is a real clear day, and Cotopaxi and the surroundings mountains stands real clear today. Going into the bamboo forest

 After the tour, we split up. Sara and Armando are continuing for an hour while Henriette want to get back to all her drying cloth, and I want to go to Apuela to try the internet. We misses the bus by two minutes, but get a lorry with sand five minutes later.Bamboo after it have passed a bear

 It takes almost an hour and a half to get down to Apuela with the heavy loaded lorry, but it was for free! I try desperately to get in contact with my internet bank, but by some obscure reason, the internet cafe does not allow Java to run on their machines. Try for an hour, but it is after all in Spanish.Colourful orchid

 Bit of a bummer because it seems like all my liquids funds have failed to reach my account. Divided in three for safety, but: One bank gone bankrupt, one have transferred my money to the bank they came from a year ago - which also have gone bankrupt. The last bank requires me to sign a letter before they can transferee them to an other account than they got them from. I leave the internet shop a bit depresses - and bankrupt.

 The two-bus don't turn up, and I walk Nachios and garlic breadquite a while up-hill, before I get a lift. Some of the others are preparing some real treat for dinner: Nachos and apple crunch. My mood are more like empting the toilet bin (no paper in any Ecuadorian toilet!), the trashcan and then a shower. Then the rains comes, and I get my nearly dried cloth saved.Cotopaxi and high Panamo

 Great dinner followed by games of Shithead and Spoon until nine, when I head for bed. All volunteers are having the weekend off.Jenn, Darsey and Henrietta head for Otavalo along with Richard who are heading home to Australia. Julia and Sara have planed a test-tour to the nearby hot springs, Anna head for Quito and I have a date with a hammock on the porch along with half a bottle of good rum and the better part of a bag of caramels.

 17/10. Our "nanny" Cecilia is back, which can be heard from my bed: She is playing the same ten-node-tune for several hours in a row! Once she leaves, I un-pluck the CD-player, but it goes right back in, when she is returns to bake escalades. Besides from that, it is a perfect morning with warm sun, and the sucker-cane-factory is not set up this weekend! Then again, it could cover Cecilia's music.The hellish suckercane mashine

 When the last group leave at ten, I start working on my photos. Although I have taken significantly fewer photos than I use to on a month tour, I guess they have to be split into more groups. Of the 3500 taken photos, 2000 have survived so fare. Many are "for documentation purpose only", and are accepted despite some lacking in quality.

 I have fare from been able to get photos of all the interesting flowers and insects I have seen due to the fact we have been walking fast and without brakes most of the time. Does not help I'm the one connecting and operating the radio on each station, followed by disconnecting and caring it to next station...Living roof on the kitchen building

 I find the high-lights from the specialised folders, re-do the layout of the photo page and diary. Then I divide Richards leftovers and move into his shelves. We are only five volunteers now, Sara, who officially have stopped, Anna and Angela, which mean we have plenty of room each.

 Sara and Julia returns from the hot baths at four, and tell of a great and relaxing day soaked in different pools.Small, but what a show! Dinner followed by my latest experimental fried bananas. Once again, they are not perfect, this time due to the oil being way too cold. We chat until nine, and the rest joins the local gang in the bar cross the road.

 I left the porch light on, and are now rewarded with an abundance of moths and night butterflies. As a bit of surprising "bonus", there are suddenly a lot of crickets. I have seen one or two in the past, now there are fifteen at the dishwashing site - on the washed stuff, and several on the porch. Must have something to do with the rainy season. One more big moth

18. While the rest go to some obscure village to play soccer, I have a nice and slow start on the day. I hear the three girls leave at eight, and then I get up and make my selves a nice breakfast. A bit of working on PC with last night's moths, which end up having their own slideshow; they form more than half the animal pictures in total. I try to get the restaurant on the other side of the road to serve guinea pig next weekend. I failed to try it last time I was in Ecuador, and would like to try it now.

 Then a bit of general relaxation until the ten'ish bus to Apuela. - which as usual end up with a real long walk. When it finally catch up with me, I get the last place; outside the bus with room for one feet and one hand.

 First a visit to the internet cafe. Updating diary, sendingApuela Sunday Marked: Shoos, cloth, bananas, meat... desperate mails to various banks and making a reservation for a room in Quito one day earlier. I even remembers to walk the last 50 metres down to the square to see the local Sunday marked.

 Around 30 stands with all from jeans and candy over raw meat to bunches of bananas to plenty of dinners. Mays, chicken or pig are the majority. Strangely enough, it seems like there are way fewer people here in traditional dresses than in the bigger and more central Otavalo. I checkout the stands, and start walking home again. Two busses passes me, but I enjoy the sun and views.

 I'm still home alone, and celebrates with a snack and a hammock - with the PC. The three soccer-girls returns; they have spent six hours NOT playing soccer. Then they get gossip about a game in Pucará, and I'm alone again. When they returns, Angelina starts dinner: Shake the fritz. I help with the salad, and Sara bake a cake.Just cross the road

 19. While the rest of the group go to the high Paramo with Samuel, Henriette, Anna and I stay back at the bear hut to do the daily bear scannings. I would love to go there and get some pictures of this awesome nature and its plants, and I might get the chance next week.

 We all leave on the nine bus, and the three of us jumps of at the starting point of the long Vuelta del Oso trail. Straight back by the main road for three hours. The fog is rather heavy, and the views are significantly altered from their usual appearance.Slightly foggy on the top As usual, we find Frida in her usual valley, but not any of the two other bears.

 We are frequently passed by lorries and pick-ups while we scan for bears. Some even stops to be sure we don't want a ride. When we have taken the last reading, we walk and wait for the bus for two hours in Santa Rosa without any other vehicle passing us. Too late to Several go to school on horsego to Apuela for me, and it is cold too.

 The kits get off school. Some walks away, one is picked up by dad on a quad-bike and several get their small horses behind the school. A blanket as saddle and a thin rope around the jaw, going to one side only, works fine it seems.

 The sun never came through today, and when we reaches the hut at three, the rain starts gently. After a short while, Anna and Angela have their dinner and go to bed. Henriette and I play some Casino and finish the semi-prepared dinner. Real quiet evening where Henriette prepares her sightseeing tour in Ecuador, and I just count the crickets.

 It have been a cold day with fog instead of the sun, but I guess it will be significantly colder in a tent without a fire on the Paramo! We breathily talked with Anna about a one-day trip up there. Apparently, it is just a bus ride an hour and a half back towards Otavalo, and we are on the Paramo! Would be nice to do without camping gear and cold night!Real tiny orchid

 20. To be able to get to On tour with three b..Apuela to check e-mails, we do the Cazapampa walk, and we even get the half pass seven bus. I checked if the girls had their parts of the radio gear - but I forgot my own! A really stupid feeling, when you stand need the central part of the antenna.

 Nothing to do, but walk all the way home again, and get it. The girls are real social, and joins in. The sun gain strength, and we can leave our warmer cloth at the hut. Have to walk all the way back again, and reaches the start of the trail at the exact time as the nine bus passes - which just add to how stupid I feel!

 We walk fast upwards, but are not able to find even Frida. The views are fantastic in this clear and sunny morning, and I find five or six flowering orchids along the road. We reach Cazarpamba settlement just as the milk truck leaves, and we get a lift.Local wemen

 Pour Devil Dog, which have been flowering us all the way from the hut - the second time we left this morning - have a hard time catching up, but when the little truck gets a flat, she catch up. Just around the truck, I find four orchids and a beautiful flower beetle.Flat tire on milk truck

 Henriette get a lift to the bear hut while Anna and I continues to Apuela. I have not received an answer on my mail to my main bank, and it seems like my financial situation remains a total screw-up. Not in the best mood, I walk all the way to the bear hut - not a single passing car in an hour. While yesterday was cold, today is real hot.

 Get a fast shower before the Paramo crew returns. Sounds like they have had a quite easy tour, considering where they have been. Only walking four hors the first day, three the second, and all on open terrain. But on the other hand; they spent twelve hours in their tents. Large, green beetle

 Eye of a mothI guess here are several more animals around here, than I get to see. Yesterday, we saw a squirrel in the pines across the road, today I have seen most of the spines from a small porcupine and a real flat snake on about 40 centimetres.

 I have seen colourful birds crossing the road, but way too fast for identification. Some have been bright yellow and black, some bright red and some have been a kind of flycatchers. There are some toped sparrows around and some which looks like slightly bigger sunbirds.

 After a strange dinner, containing of rice, some sort of pea soup and added wieners, I fries a bunch of bananas in different ways. The cinnamon are surprisingly not as good, but the O'Boy chocolate, the vanilla, the salt and especially the sucker/vanilla ones are a success.

 No one are in for a game of cards, and I just fine-tunes my diary - which it needs. I do have to confess; it would be way more easy to write in Danish! On the other hand; most conversation (I understand) are spoken in some sort of English, and I do think in English - although the thoughts might not be as great as usual...

 At nine I give in, and head for the bed as the last. We should have a fairly easy walk ahead of us tomorrow; the Vuelta del Ose while the Jenn and Darsey are heading all the way up to the corn field trap, mainly to get Sara's forgotten binoculars. She is considering to join, if the weather is fine. It is after all a seven or eight hour tough walk. Then she discover she have some sewing to do.

 21. Huge, flowering bromeliadEverybody is early up, probably because the Jenn and Darsey are scheduled for the early bus, and the rest Old and used, but alive and kickingof us are normally early up. Henriette, Anna and I get away with the Vuelta del Oso; the main road walk. The weather seems to be as great as yesterday, and it will be a nice downhill walk.

 We find Frida in her usual valley, but nothing else - which is fare from surprising. I try desperately to capture the enormous landscapes along the road, but as usual; I fails. They are just too big!

 After the last station, I wishes for a fast and convenient lift. Can't get it all, but we surely get a fast lift! He could be in the Dakar race, and it turns out he doesn't even know the road! We are home almost two hour earlier than this Monday.Mixed farming along the road

 I have to admit the days start to look alike, and I'm looking forward for a tour to the Paramo next week, and even a day in Atlanta! I am not really made for doing nothing! A stroll through the rather large garden reviles some interesting wild plants, among them orchids. I find a couple of ripen avocados and a lime fruit, and they taste just great!Night butterflye

 I start soaking my laundry, and once again, I am astonished over the colour the water gets. And I have no doubt it will get nasty once I get it home in the machine. No wonder many of the locals looks a bit dirty. Neither a big mystery why the men have chosen western cloths to their traditional bright white cloth shoos, shirts and trousers! Many of the women still wear the white shirts - although they might not appear bright white.

 The pour Canadians are back, just before dark at six, and they have not been able to find the really disappointed Sara's binoculars. Along with them, Armando turns up. He have been in the US, getting new dart gun, collars and other bear tracking stuff. It seems like the whole project will come back to live - when we leave in ten days time.High Speed Moth

 Jenn, Darsey and I are given two days off, the rest of the gang have to be on the seven'ish bus in the morning, going on a new and maybe long track. I am beginning to have an idea of how the tracks are in relation to each other, and where it should be possible to track the single bear we are finding.

 The water vanished during the afternoon, and it is either dirty to bed or real cold bucket-washing for the poor Canadians. I use the lack of water to replace the tap, which have been running for a week. The hut quiets down around nine, but I'm woken up by the shower - outside the house, on the other side - at eleven. Someone have left the shower on.

 22. The water has gone again, and the dishes are piling up again. I had hoped for some cloth washing, using the midday sun to dry it. Guess I have to find another wayMale of the Blue-tailed Emerald; Chorostilbon mellisugus. to entertain my selves. Not really much to do around here, except the "nanny's" work, or go for a walk. Neither seems attractive... Guess it will be he Apuela up-load tour as usual.

 Walking each way draws some energy, but after being back at the hut for just a short while, I'm restless again. The dishwashers are done together with Diarise, in two litres of water, due to the lack of it.One of many crickets

 The rest returns from the tour, which have brought some bear hairs, but not opened the routs Armando wanted. It need "a strong armed man with a machete" - hopefully not me! I neither have the strength or nerve to work with a machete for longer periods.

 I open the well, and to my surprise, there are more than a meter of water in it. It is fare from "drinkable", but do fine in the toilet. Showers and laundry are rescheduled once again. Good thing I bought plenty of cloth in Quito!

 Dinner is a delightful surprise: Roasted chicken! Then I share some of my photos with some of the others. I have taken close to 4000, and there are 100 in the highlights, which are pretty good, if I must say it my selves. Then I find a interesting book; Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code - and by some obscure reason: In Danish! At some point, I discover the rest have gone to bed, but it is quarter pass eight after all, and a real cold evening.Female of the Blue-tailed Emerald; Chorostilbon mellisugus.

 22. Sara sets out to find her binoculars, Anna head for Otavalo to do some shopping, Armando have a meeting with a guy financing a helicopter. Julia and Henriette should have been on a tour with Samuel, but he have crashed with his motorbike, and they go to Otavalo instead. Our last guide; Armando the Younger have just become father, and he is out  as well.

 I was supposed to guide Jenn and Darsey on the Cazarpamba tour tomorrow, but they decides to go to Otavalo as well. That leaves me alone in the hut along with knitting Cecilia. I do my laundry in the now rather fresh well-water, and prepares for a day in the shadow, reading The Da Vincy Code. Unfortunately, Cecilia are having her friends over and I don't get the silence I was hoping for.Female of the Blue-tailed Emerald; Chorostilbon mellisugus.

 The tiny hummingbird passes bye, and I get some rather good shots in a bean plant - my camera considered. It is the female of the Blue-tailed Emerald; Chorostilbon mellisugus. Tiny, shy and hellish fast!

 Female of the Blue-tailed Emerald; Chorostilbon mellisugus.Angela get back from school, and we improvises a cake for later; leftover cinnamon-sucker, apples, carrots, flower, eggs and plenty of sucker. I try a new concept to avoid the usual overdoing of the button. Then, it is back to Da Vincy on this perfect hot and sunny day.

 At five, I make Sara and my selves a pasta-thing with either roasted chicken or tuna with a legergied cream sauce. It actually taste all right, especially considered how empty the kitchen is, both what regards tools and ingredients.

 The guys from the water company drives bye at six, telling that they now will open for the water. It turns out the tank have been cleaned and painted inside. Knowing they have found the remains of two racoons among other things, it seems like a brilliant idea! Anglia is real excited: Bath, flush-out toilet, tooth brushing...  She get half way through, and the water fails again. I wait an hour, and get a well deserved bath.

 23. Up early, making my selves some descent breakfast, and then off with the seven bus. Sara drives all the way to Otavalo, I jump off at the Cazarpamba road. After I have done the first reading, I get a ride almost to the settlement of Cazarpamba. It is a small pick-up filled with guys going on berry picking in the hills. By their look, I figure the berries won't be for marmalade! Me, looking for bears, alone

 I walk slowly back, doing the scannings and enjoying the nature. I find at least eight orchids, but only flowers on half. The weather is great, there is a rather good visibility, and I have a great tour - although I don't find any bears. On the other hand; I get to take 90 photos on this trail I have walked several times, and they are better than the first ones. As I perfectly know; it takes time to take photos, and in the mornings, the sun is better.Underside of a fern leafwith spores

 Back at the hut at half pass ten, sort the photos, and the rest of the day will be in company with Da Vincy. The water have gone again, but one kind of get use to that. Showers are something you have when there is water, not when you actually needs it. I open the well once again, and fit the bucket with weight and rope.One of the silverleaved trees

 Finish the book at four, and then I get restless again. Consider to chase the two horses out of the back garden. Then came in last evening after dark, and make quite some noise. I have seen them on the Apuela road for some time. Strange someone let the roam free like that; they must represent some value, but maybe everybody know who's they are?

 At five, I check the dinner: Overcooked broccoli and carrots wit potato mash. Guess Armando won't be coming today. The only "spice" I can find to get some taste into it with, is chicken bouillon and a sweet soya. On my way to the kitchen, I scares two calves off. I want those animals in my food, not my garden!

 Sara, Jenn, Darsey and Anna are back while Henriette and Julie continues their exploring of the Otavalo area. Guess that means I will have company on tomorrow's walk: Sempre Verde. The evening turns cold, and everybody head for bed early.

Due to the size of the pages caused by the pictures, it continues in Part 4.

     Photos Diary 1   2   3   4