Mongolia and Greece Groups Are Home Safe and Sound & Last Words from Ecuador . . .

The Mongolia and Greece groups have both arrived back on campus, exhausted, enthusiastic, and ready to do laundry. It is wonderful to lay our eyes on them!  The Ecuador group is state side and en route back. Here are some parting words from them.

Katrina '16, Ecuador, Cerro Secco
The town of Bahia had the appearance of a typical coastal town; people sitting on the beach, salt in the air, and outside shops along the sidewalks. Despite the suffocating heat and humidity when we arrived, the view and coastal vibe was much appreciated. After taking a deeper look at the Bahia municipality however, the town revealed itself as an epicenter of Ecuador's green movement, adding a whole new layer to the town with which I was already smitten.

For our first dinner in Bahia, we ventured into the foothills just outside of town in pursuit of the natural reserve entitled Cerro Secco. We passed the expected array of cement and brick dwellings, and to my surprise and excitement, murals and street art depicting and preaching the importance of our environment. Seeing this individual and community effort to spread the value of conservation warmed my heart and strengthened my interest in learning about the path Bahia and Cerro Secco have taken to help the environment.

Because Cerro Secco is located above the town, the temperature thankfully dropped and provided a stunning view of a new variety of trees and small mountains. There was a magical energy at the reserve that we immediately felt and it was very special. This energy was matched by Marcelo, the man who runs the reserve. His passion and enthusiasm for conservation in this incredibly bio diverse area was contagious and sparked numerous questions related to the reserve. Not only does the reserve hold a special place in his heart for its appreciation for nature, something he has dedicated his life to, but it is on Marcelo's grandfather's land and is a family effort. He continued to elaborate on the climate of Bahia; dry tropical forest, which is only found in only a few countries in the world and how there is rain only 3 months of the year, and how plants cope with this. An incredibly satisfying meal finished the day, and I returned to the hostel eager for the next two days of learning about the area and the region's progress in sustainability, and contributing to the mission of the reserve through volunteer work.