During the past week the importance of protecting areas like the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve, and the worldâs rainforests has been a major topic of conversation for our team. We paddled out of the interior of the park and were slowly exposed to more and more human impact. The changes we saw reinforced our resolve to make changes in our personal lives that will directly and indirectly help preserve the worldâs remaining forests. We hope that this learning adventure has encouraged you to help protect the rainforest as well as your own neighborhood.
We turned our canoes into a giant raft during our stay in Vente de Enero and it became cool place to hang out. The whole town joined in the fun.
Our transition was a gradual one. We were happy that students voted to have us take the Yanayaquillo Canal and visit the town of Viente de Enero. We spent two days visiting with the townâs 120 residents and learning how they live. Each family has a small farm where they raise almost all of the food they need to survive. Chickens, ducks, and pigs supplement their diet of fish, yucca, and bananas. We found that there are many fewer monkeys, macaws, and other animals living close to communities like Viente de Enero. But the for the most part, these people are living in harmony with their environment and see the importance in protecting the rainforest. However as we moved down river to Nauta and finally Iquitos, the landscape changed dramatically.
During our paddle down the Maranon River to Nauta we talked a lot about the difference between the park and the populated river channels. We also did a lot of brainstorming about ways we can help the rainforest.
Iquitos is the largest city in the world with no road access from the outside. Approximately 400,000 people live there, and most of their food and building materials comes from the surrounding area; all of which used to be virgin rainforest. Exploring Iquitos brought many of the problems that the rainforests face into sharp focus. Deforestation, the damages associated with road building, and the over-harvesting of plants and animals from the surrounding forest were easily seen.
During a walk through the open-aired markets of Belen we found a wide range of animals, many of which are endangered being sold as pets as well as bush meat. It is hard to see these things, and it is even harder to figure out ways that we can help.
We hope that biking to work, using less water, and conserving energy will help us help the planet.
All of our team members have vowed to try live in a more environmentally friendly manor when we return to the United States. I plan to bike to work this summer rather than drive my car. This will mean spending about 3 hours biking 35 miles instead of an hour in the car. However, it will help reduce the amount of gasoline that I use. Eric is also planning to bike to work, and Amy has never owned a car, so she will continue to try and live car free! Patrick, probably has the coolest job of all. He plans to install solar panels and wind mills in homes across the country to help reduce the amount of fossil fuels being used. We hope that our actions will help make the world a cleaner place.
Coming face to face with this terrified baby spider monkey was really hard. I could feel it crying for help through its big glassy eyes.
We are also looking into ways we can help the Pacaya Samiria Reserve directly. When we return to the United States, we are going to try and raise money, which can be used to buy food and supplies for the park rangers. We are also going to try and find volunteers who will go to Lagunas to teach Warren and other guides who live in Lagunas how to speak English. Having English-speaking guides in Lagunas will encourage more tourists to visit the park, which will bring more money to the area and lead to better protection for the plants and animals living in the reserve.
Have you thought of ways that you can help?
We hope that you can, because if we all work together we are sure to make a difference!