We spent the first night after our arrival at Casa Magnolia in Quito. The next morning, we took a beautiful, scenic trip to Baeza, stopping to visit some hot springs along the way.
In Baeza, we went on a number of gorgeous hikes and visited a few dams, where we discussed the environmental and societal effects of hydroelectric projects. Our activities at this location also included milking cows and bird watching.
We are currently staying at the Huasquila Jungle Lodge. Thus far, we have hiked through caves and waterfalls and visited a cooperatively owned chocolate farm.
We left at 8 for a chocolate farm that is part of the Kallari producers cooperative. We got to explore the jungle and learn about many plants. We then went and tasted cacao beans and helped shell and grind them to make a chocolate mixture to dip plantains in. Afterward, we went to a different location to learn more about the process of making chocolate. We concluded our tour with a trip to the Kallari offices.
We tasted several varieties of chocolate, learned about business economics and bought several dozen bars of chocolate.
We returned to Huasquila for lunch and a short rest and then headed out again for a hike. Luis, our guide, led us all through the forest teaching us about all manner of plants. We even tasked honey ants!
We walked through a cave and had a moment of reflection in the darkness there. Afterward, we went to a waterfall where everyone played in the water while Luis serenaded us with flute music. We finally returned to the lodge for dinner and Ponga.
– Julie and the Sustaining the Amazon 2016 crew
Here are some photos from the last couple of days of the program to help tell the story: