Even though I’m not the type of kid to call my parents every day (or week, or month, oops I'm trying to be better) when I told them I wouldn’t have internet for two weeks in the Amazon they were a little worried. I assured them that everything would be fine and gave them the WhatsApp numbers of our coordinators for the university and for IES Abroad. We live in a world that even in the middle of nowhere in the United States sometimes you can still send out a text by just driving fifteen minutes more in a direction. Not the Amazon. Why would they have service if essentially no one would use it? But I will paint the picture of where we were just to show how removed we were.
We started in Quito after getting back from the Galapagos and from there took a flight to the closest major city to the jungle, Coca. The flight was only around an hour and a half (but the bus ride back was seven) and from there we had a short ten-minute bus ride to a dock on the Napo River. While waiting for the boat we had around thirty minutes to walk around, buy snacks, use the bathroom, etc. In town they were selling Chontacuro, which is a type of Ecuadorian fried worm. I was considering being brave and trying it but I chickened out and used the “ah I would but I have no money on me” excuse, but no one else was really going out of their way to try them either. That was an experience for another time with a day where I had a stronger stomach and not five more hours of travel ahead of me.
From there, we boarded a twenty-five-foot motorized canoe with everyone and all of our luggage and we were off again! This was where the jungle definitely started. The water was a chocolate milk brown color from all of the sediment rushing down and the banks were lined with so many birds and the most green vegetation. We were on the boat for an hour and a half and then disembarked by an oil drilling area. It was a little sad to see that this deep into the rainforest that there were drilling sites adn thinking about the impacts of them, something we touched much more on in our Freshwater Ecology class. Then a two-hour bus ride to another two-hour canoe ride and we arrived to the Tiputini Biodiversity Station right asthe sun was setting, it was beautiful.
So like I said, very far, very middle of nowhere. Within the first two minutes of our second canoe ride we hit something. I shot a look at my other classmates that said a mixture of “hmm did you hear that and are we going to die?” Given that the canoe was made out of fiberglass we saw the sand bar that we hit dent the front of the boat and saw as the dent moved from the front of the boat to the back till we passed over it. I felt like I was in a cartoon as the indent passed my feet. But hey we made it! The boat drivers were honestly so impressive because the way the water levels changed daily along with so many storms and new debris in the river they had to be constantly looking at the currents and determining where to go. That second canoe ride was where we got our first true taste of the Amazon, we saw macaws, capybaras, and a caiman! From there, I knew that the next two weeks were going to be insane and unforgettable.
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<p>Hello! My name is Rachel Seyler and I'm going into my junior year and I am studying ecology and evolutionary biology & environmental studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder. I'm studying abroad in Quito and the Galapagos Islands via direct enrollment during fall 2021. During my free time I enjoy snowboarding, hanging out with friends, and hiking. During my time abroad I'm very excited to expand my Spanish skills, learn about the local culture, and explore in depth the unique flora and fauna that the Galapagos and rainforest entails.</p>