Is 2010, a year after I got lost. This time I have Jeff who can navigate with his eyes closed, we have acquired a super GPS with a special sensor, done the research with Google Earth, generated probability models with MaxEnt and we are going after Scapsheoalum pleurothallodes again. My secret weapon is that this time I have three kichwa friends with me and I have no intention of getting lost again. Did I mentioned it took me six months to get the permits? and I got those too!
My models indicated that I could find S. pleurothallodes in the forests along the tributaries of the Jatunyacu River so we went to explore the forests of the river Ibillichin.
The picture on the left shows the entrance to the forest and it is the home to hundreds of Amazonian parrots.
I was super lucky to have Gabriel Grefa, German Shihuango and Hernan Grefa with us. They have a house at the top of the mountain that is really incredible, if you wake up early in the morning before the clouds get in you can see Reventador, one of those incredible Amazonian Volcanoes.
The trail to get there is steeeeeep, good for the heart, not that good for the soul, and terrible for the knees and the vocabulary. All along the trail is evident that the forest is recovering from deforestation and farming so pleurothallids were not frequent, nevertheless, the common Stelis vulcanii, Stelis argentata, Platystele stenostachya were all over the trail forest. Our kichwa friends were so amazed by the size of these tiny orchids that it was fun to tell them about how are they pollinated.
After a long long walk we got to the house. I have been so many years working in the field that I learnt that when you are struggling to get to a point the natives will always tell you that you are almost there, that is just after the curve, or by the time they finish their cigarette you will be there when in fact, the curve never ends, they finish a pack of cigarettes and you are still not there. Now I just enjoy all fun sayings that they have to encourage us, the city people!
German used to live in a very remote place where there was no contact with people from the city, once, a mission went to visit them for Christmas and gave him one chocolate wrapped on a golden foil paper, he describes it as been the best memory of his childhood. Years later he went out to a little town that had a tienda and purchased a little golden rectangular thing that he thought was chocolate, but it turned out that it was a "cubo maggi" (concentrate bouillon paste) that was so salty....This was Thanksgiving day in the US and I thank Jeff for having eaten his tuna spaghetti (he hates tuna!) and for all the high happy spirits of the team!