If you’re interested in hands-on conservation work, botany or sustainable environments then we’ve got a great placement for you in Ecuador! Read about our Placement Advisor Christina’s visit to our Agro Forestry and Environmental Conservation in the Mindo Cloud Forest placement:
Last week, I accompanied a new volunteer to his placement in the middle of the Ecuadorian cloud forest. A car and driver were provided to take William and his belongings and I tagged along, happy to get the chance to see the infamous cloud forest! We made some bonus stops along the way to see Pululahua, an active volcano that houses a community of people living in its crater.
We also got to experience the Intiñan museum where we stood in authentic indigenous dwellings and experienced peculiar events that happen while being directly on the equator. These included: balancing a raw egg on a nail, walking directly on 0 degrees latitude and feeling the pull of the two opposing gravitational forces and, most amazingly, seeing water filter in opposite directions just a few feet away from the equator on each side!
After the museum, we had another hour to drive, but it was enjoyable as we were able to watch the landscape change around us. Everywhere you looked there were plants, trees, and flowers- complete greenery. The ever-present clouds lent a slight chill, but the air was so fresh that we rolled down our windows anyway to breath it in. The last step was to drive a bumpy, dirt path for 20 minutes into the greenery and we finally arrived at the pleasantly isolated and beautifully landscaped Agro Forestry and Environmental Conservation in the Mindo Cloud Forest placement.
I went on William’s orientation tour with him, getting a sense for the reserve’s layout. We walked along small paths cleared through lush forest with ponds, benches, organic coffee plants and simple buildings dotted throughout. We got to understand and see the reserve’s reforestation efforts. In the past, trees were cut and grass planted to create food for livestock, so the reserve is working on sustainable ways to re-populate the forest. One interesting method was how they planted trees that grew very tall to block out the sun, thus killing the grass below and creating space for more trees. They’ve also planted crops of trees with good wood for construction, which they’ve used to build their own houses. Throughout the reserve live relatives of the family who runs it, including two grandparents, two brothers and their respective wives and children and some cousins. They continue nurturing the trees so that in the future their
children will use them to build their homes as well.
Lastly, we walked through the flourishing greenhouse where fruits and vegetables used for meals at the reserve are grown. I tried an Ecuadorian favorite- la uvilla- a small golden and deliciously tart fruit that I was able to pick straight off the vine! As William went off to have lunch with the family, he turned to tell me with a grand smile that should his wife call looking for him, tell her not to worry, but he did not want to be found… (until his placement ends that is).