By: CAITLIN SALVINO
Thursday, July 18, 2013
I woke up this morning in a completely new world, surrounded by humid air, bright green plants, and wildlife I’ve never seen before. The Cloud Forest is completely different than Tortorillas where we were staying in Chimborazo. Most noticeable is the heat difference. In Chimborazo it was freezing almost every day until noon when it would heat up for a little bit. In the Cloud Forest it is extremely hot and humid. I no longer have to wear three sweaters and a hat.
I got up early this morning to go visit the butterfly sanctuary that we visited last night. Last night it was very hectic because it was the butterflies’ feeding time, so they were flying everywhere – including all over us (which freaked me out to no end).
Luckily this morning when I visited them they were all sleeping, so it was a lot calmer than last night. I got a chance to see all of the beautiful different kinds of butterflies, including the Monarch butterfly that we see so often in Canada.
We then went on a guided nature hike with a local guide named Alexander. Throughout the hike he showed us so much wildlife and plants that make Ecuador one of the most bio-diverse countries in the world. He explained to us the rainforest ecosystem, the pink flowers (that if eaten can make humans and cows intoxicated), the red bananas (that I ate), he named all of the birds we saw, showed us the bamboo (that I thought only existed in Asia), the poisonous caterpillars, and got us to hear toucans! The hike through the rainforest reminded me a lot of Tofino, British Columbia where I got to hike through a protected rainforest in Canada.
I really enjoyed the past two days visiting the Cloud Forest because we got a chance to see a completely different part of Ecuador than the busy city of Quito or the quieter, simple life in Chimborazo. We got to see what Ecuador is most famous for- their biodiversity and rainforests. It also showed us the importance of conservation and environmental protection of beautiful ecosystems like the ones we saw in the rainforest.
Tomorrow we return to Quito, visiting a chocolate factory and artisan market on the way back to the San Francisco Hotel where we stayed on the first night that we arrived in Ecuador. It’s extremely symbolic. It’s crazy to think that less than two weeks ago I was in that same hotel extremely sick from the altitude and having no idea what I had gotten myself into. This marks our evolution and growth over the past two weeks. I feel a lot more mature and independent than I did two weeks ago. I wish I could stay in Ecuador much longer, but I’m grateful for all I have learned here.