Sunday, January 20, 2013



This is at Lake Cuicocha (Guinea pig lake in Kichua, the language of the indigenous people of Ecuador), but I like to think of it as Lake Hylia.

There were lizards. We saw many, but failed to capture all but one.

Things that I've done so far that I should write full posts for, but won't because I'm too lazy:

Friday: Visited different mountain habitats @ different elevations. Was basically in a cloud. Rested in hot springs after.
Saturday: The lake, the lizard, an Indian market where I bought a hat and a bird of prey park.
Sunday: Went up to Cotopaxi AKA giant snow capped mountain.

Next weekend: Cloud forest

Friday, January 11, 2013

Finally some cool stuff

One of the things I was looking forward to while living in a tropical country was the fact that lizards could be scurrying all over the walls everywhere I went. Unfortunately, Quito's more temperate climate is too cold to support this kind of lizard activity.

I know, I know, everyone must be thinking: "But Jon! You like turtles! Not LIZUrDS!!11! Why do you want to see lizerds?! Trtuels are so much cooler."

Podocnemis unifilus.
I've always read about these guys but never got to see them in person.

Yeah, turtles are really cool, but for whatever reasons turtles aren't as diverse in the tropics. Ecuador has only 31 species of turtles. This is including sea turtles which are pretty much global and the Galapagos turtles which are the opposite. These don't count in my biased opinion. Freshwater turtles are where it's at. That's a story for another blog entry. Anyway, there are only 10 species at Tiputini. A measly 10. Believe it or not, the United States is the most turtle rich country in the world!

But anyways, I am excited to see lizards because there were no lizards to catch in New York, but there are tons of lizards (and frogs) in Ecuador and I plan on catching them all. More on that later.

Here are pictures from a small zoo in a large park in the middle of Quito. It's called the Vivarium. Unfortunately, they only had 2 lizards, one of which I could not find. I don't think it was in there. There were mostly snakes (which I am completely ignorant about), some frogs (which I have no good pictures of), and turtles!

Bothriopsis bilineata smaragdinus Some kind of viper.
Some kind of boa constrictor.
Verdi! AKA Emerald Tree Boa AKA Corallus caninus
Paleosuchus trigonatus. Smooth fronted caiman AKA small crocodile.

Field guide. I need another for reptiles. Or do I already have one? Cliffhanger, ha ha ha.

Bonus picture:
Some weirdo who thought it was worth 3 bucks to get his picture taken with a snake.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Speech of facts

  • Ecuador is the most biodiverse country in the world. 
  • I'm living in Quito, the capital city of Ecuador.
  • It is 9000 feet or 2800 meters above sea level.
  • This change in altitude required some adjusting to, which I think I'm done with.
  • I go to school at the Universidad San Francisco de Quito.
  • I am taking an "intensive" spanish class for the first month. 
  • The other class I am taking the entire semester is basically a giant ecology class.
  • It is divided into: the mountains, the coast, and the rainforest. 
  • We will take many trips of varying length to different places to conduct projects/experiments and learn about the tropics/how to become good field biologists.
  • The area in the tropics we go to has been featured for the 125th anniversary of National Geographic
  • There is a 45-90 minute bus ride to the university, going/returning respectively.
  • I need to take three different buses.
  • The bus ride is through the Andes is beautiful. I want to take pictures or a video, but I do not want to be beaten by the locals for my valuable wares.* 
  • The university is in a valley outside of Quito.
  • This means it is lower in altitude and warmer.
  • I am at the equator which means I am closer to the sun.
  • When I am at a high altitude, I am closer to the sun. 
  • The weather here is extremely variable. When the sun shines, it is really warm. It is brisk in the mornings and evenings. Apparently the rainy season is about to start.
  • I should get an umbrella.
  • Allegedly, you can drink a different fruit juice everyday for a year and still not have tried all the fruits Ecuador has to offer.
  • I don't think I would like to read entries like this in list form. Sorry. Here's a picture:

Tuesday, January 8, 2013


Finally visited the University San Francisco de Quito for orientation today. My host family asked the woman who lives below us to drive me since she works in the area, Cumbaya, a valley outside of Quito. I spent the whole time taking pictures of the mountains while we were driving.

And the University is really cool. I'm really tired so I'm just going to post pictures and explain the University in-depth at a later time. They say a picture is worth a thousand words so this post should technically be a lot of words. Adios.


Isn't this some Lost shit?

Giant pineapple surrounded by trees.

Zipline you can take across the Asian inspired eutrophic pond complete with koi.

Giant pineapple covered with ferns.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Things are really getting real now

So now that I've actually taken some pictures of Quito I can start blogging for real because what's a good blog entry without pictures?

This was taken on the roof of where I live. Woohoo mountains.

More mountains. So on the topic of mountains, here's a story about the events surrounding my first interactions with my host family. I arrived in Quito at around seven and at the same time their cat of five years which they had raised since it was a darling little kitty was in the hospital because it fell out of a window in their apartment. They live on the fifth floor.

They apologized for the sad atmosphere, especially since it was my first day, but all I can do is wonder. Am I a bad omen? Do I kill cats? Am I their new cat?

I don't know, but so far my host family is muy bueno and the food has been good. Here are some groovy doovy trees outside my window.

Showers in Ecuador 2

-lf to 140 characters.

Showers in Ecuador 1

I know nothing about them. Gonna find out in a few. This blog is basically taking on the purpose that twitter is used for. I will limit myse

Ecuadorian breakfast

was good. More exhaustive updates (like this one) on the Ecuadorian lifestyle coming soon!