Thursday, February 28, 2013

More "The Coast"

Oh yeah, so some of you may know of my anti-sea turtle stance. In a nutshell, sea turtles are just too charismatic. Everyone likes them. An interest in sea turtles basically renders your personality boring and without any real passion. Also, since they are all endangered you can't catch them and watch them play in an aquarium in your room. Oh wait, they grow way too big to even keep in a fish tank! Plus marine aquaculture is annoying in general. There are only 7 species of sea turtles out of around 300 species of turtle. What an underwhelming, insignificant minority. Plus they live in the ocean and I hate the ocean. Bah humbug.

Anyway, on the first night at the coast a few people found a sea turtle nesting on the beach at night. When my friends and I got word of this we ran and watched it clumsily crawl up the sand in order to dig its nest for the next generation of sea turtles. I fell asleep on the sand under the stars because the whole process took 3 hours in total, but it was a magical experience and made me almost have an interest in these animals.

Alright, fine. It was actually amazing to see a sea turtle in person and watch it nest.

Crawling back to the ocean.

Unfortunately, the beach where this turtle laid is likely to be submerged during high tide. Darn global climate change. This beach was probably fine when she hatched out of it. In conclusion, what a magical beginning to an otherwise underwhelming week at the coast.

The Coast

I was never fond of the beach, but I thought "hey. maybe seeing and swimming in the Pacific will be make me stop hating beaches and start loving beaches and it will be a fun time." After all, you get these every night:

and then this during the day.

So after ten days at the coast I still don't like the beach. There is too much sand at these places. Maybe if there was a beach with less sand, humidity and ocean I would potentially enjoy five or ten minutes there. Maybe.

So anyway, we took a short plane ride from Quito to Manta, the city that smells of fish. From Manta to a bus station that did not smell of fish. From the bus station to Los Piqueros Hosteria, home (or sandy hell) for the next week and half.

One of the first things we did at the hostel was to visit tide pools. There were sea urchins and stuff. Nothing really interesting. I guess it was ok; there are a lot of creepy crawly things and the occasional fish. I don't like the ocean or its inhabitants that live at its periphery.

The next event on our "things to do when you are close to the ocean list" was a trip to an artisanal fish market at Puerto Lopez, the closest large town. Unfortunately we didn't find anything good so we went home empty handed. A few other kids went back everyday, but I don't think they ever brought back anything to good to eat.

Assorted goods sold beachside.

We visited more tide pools at Puerto Cayo, an hour and half away via bus, which was superior to the other tide pools due to the large population of lizards that was present. Unfortunately we did not spend much time here.

If you're not tired of tide pools by this point, I sure am. We visited another tidal area in a town called
MontaƱita. This is a surfer/tourist/gringo destination, so you may have heard of it (probably not). While I am sick of tide pools at this point, I suppose they make for a pretty picture.

Back at the hostel, there was a "museum" of sorts with archaeological artifacts and whatnot. Skulls and stuff. The owner of the hostel apparently funded some digs and is quite the archaeology aficionado. At the entrance there is a painted picture of him holding a skull in Indiana Jones garb. I wish I took a picture of it. This museum was located in a mangrove area with its own healthy population of lizards. 

Our last trip together was a walk through tropical dry forest at Machalilla National Park, which was teeming with lizards.

So while we're on the topic of lizards here are all the lizards I saw on this trip
  • Phyllodactylus reiisi -------------(Gecko)
  • Ameiva sp------------------------(Whiptail)
  • Microlophus occipitalis-------------(Lava Lizard)
  • Stenocercus iridiscens---------------(Some kind of lizard)
  • Gonatodes caudiscutatus-------------(Pretty gecko)

Unfortunately, all the lizards in the world wouldn't make up for being at the beach. Also, to be completely biased, subjective, and unreasonable, these were not the coolest of lizards. I just didn't like the way they look. Except G. caudiscutatus. That was a pretty lizard, but I didn't find too many of them.

What did make up for the subpar lizards and beach was the family that ran the place. They were really welcoming and had two kids aged 4 (boy) and 9 (girl). I think I piqued their interest by always carrying a net and my lizard noosing stick. They said they would tell me whenever they saw a lizard. One day the girl gave me a poem clipped out of a newspaper about lizards.

Their father played guitar and sang really well. What nice people. I wish I got a picture with the kids. I like kids more than the beach. And dogs. But that's for another time.

Well, that's enough of the a recap for now. I don't think I'll ever like the beach. Maybe I'll like the Caribbean, where there are lots of anoles. Who knows? Until next time.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

EcuAdorable #1

Anolis aequatorialis juvenile
Isn't he adorable?
Anolis aequatorialis

I found this little beauty sleeping on a leaf at six in the morning as we were waiting for a Cock of the Rock lek which required a two hour hike in the rain. The lek wasn't that spectacular, but I was content because of this lizard. What is a lek, you ask? Why did you hike two hours in the rain to see something that sounds rather phallic? Forget about those questions, and just look how cute this lizard looks, perched upon a cyclanthaceae leaf with rain drops on his or her head.

The answer to all these questions and more, next time. 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

What I've been up to...

So I've been getting lazy with blogging since there are important things to do like apply for internships this summer and not blog and travel Ecuador and stuff. Sorry y'all.

Here is what I've been up to since I last posted:
  • Went on an excursion with all the BU kids to that lake I posted about last time and to Otovalo, a giant hat market where I bought my hat
  • Finished the first course: Tropical Montane Biology
    • We briefly visited a mountain called Papallacta (potato field) to see how the flora and minimal fauna changes with elevation. 
      • This concluded with downtime in thermal hot springs.
    • Went to Cotopaxi (giant snow capped mountain/volcano) to see paramo (alpine grassland).
    • Stayed at La Hesperia, a dairy farm/biological reserve for a weekend to learn about cloud forest flora and fauna. 
  • Finished with intensive Spanish class. 
    • Only class is biology from 9 to 12 besides field trips.
  • Visited Mindo for a weekend on my own with a few friends.
    • It is a town in a cloud forest that runs on eco-tourism.
    • Pictures here
  • Turned 21. 
  • Tried to take a nap today. Success was variable.
What I'm gonna do:
  • Learn to cook food from my host mother after writing this post.
  • Live with indigenous people in another cloud forest this weekend.
  • Frolic at the beach for 10 days with the class for our second block, Tropical Coast Beach Fun Time. 
  • Take a short 2-credit dry cleaning class at the Galapagos for 8 days somewhere between March 1st-15th. 
  • Go to the rainforest for a month to search for some elusive trees. 
  • Return home to no internship and consequently no future. Tentative. 
Up next on the blog:
  • Post about what I've been eating with a lot of pictures.
  • Complain that I haven't seen any lizards.
  • More videos.
Here are all my Ecuador videos: VIDEOS