Saturday, May 15, 2010

Best Laid Plans

Driving up From Quito

I had great plans for the weekend, which did not work out at all.

Eric was in Yanayacu Thursday and Friday to set up his experiment, but had to drive to Quito Friday afternoon so that we could all go to Felipe's house for dinner. Felipe runs 'Latin Roots', which is the tour company which organizes the trip for the students in January. Felipe had invited us to get together with him and his family as well as Andres and Guillermo and their families. The dinner had been planned a year ago, but for all sorts of reasons was not to happen until last night. The evening was a great success for the adults and the children. Andres has two daughters ages 10 and 8, and a son of 4, Guillermo brought his daughters ages 16, 10 and 8, and Felipe has a 10 year old daughter too, so the girls went wild and ran around all night. The adults drank good Chilean wine, and Felipe barbequed pork and steak in Argentinian style (his wife is originally from Argentina). I have never tasted pork as delicious in my life. It was cooked over the fire for hours and had a crispy skin which was amazingly good. I am not much of a meat eater, but this pork is too good to miss! Conversation was entertaining and never stopped flowing. Felipe's father was a writer and knew some of the most well known Ecuadorian artists of the time, so Felipe has inherited an incredible art collection (Guayasamin, Kingman, Coello, Viteri). The evening was so much fun we did not get home until after 2 in the morning (Maya stayed awake until the very end of the evening).

Near Papallacta

So we did not get moving very early this morning. It was important that Eric get to Yanayacu to catch his birds, so I had planned that we would all travel together with his parents, who returned from the jungle around midday. There is a wonderful bird resort next to the research station, where Deborah and Maya had stayed during our last visit to Yanayacu. The best part of 'San Isidro', after the amazing birds one sees, is the excellent food, the best I have tasted in Ecuador. I had booked the night for both Eric's parents and us, and was hoping that Eric's father would be excited about participating in the research and learning something about what Eric does in the field. Unfortunately, his parents were not at all interested in joining us, and did not want to plan any activity with us for the rest of the day.

Clouds Descending

It was later that we decided to drive to Yanayacu anyway. It is the last time Maya will have a chance to participate in Eric's work (the next weekends before Eric leaves are scheduled with other activities). Maya loves staying at the research station and helping Eric with his experiments. It is also getting to be crunch time for Eric and if we can help him catch his birds, it would be wonderful. The drive through Pifo to Papallacta is stunning although I hoped to see Antisana, but it was covered in clouds again, and descending down into the cloudforest on the other side is spectacular. I will miss this view when we are gone.

Unfortunately (again) we left Quito too late to set up the nets and make an effort this evening to get the birds. It will be our last chance tomorrow morning, so Eric, Maya, and I will wake up early and head out to set up and hope for success. We will stay in the Research Station tonight (rather than the lovely San Isidro) so that we can be onsite and get to the bamboo forest directly. Maya had tunafish for dinner and I had rasberries (which we brought from home) and pistachios.

I am hoping that we are successful in our efforts in the morning.

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