Thursday July 19, 2018
We started our first full day with a city tour of Manaus. It was great to get to know each other a bit better as we walked around the Amazon City! We got to tour a famous theatre that was built in the 1800s, and luckily there were even musicians practicing for a concert. After the theater we went to a local market where there was everything from fresh fish to souvenirs!
The second half of the day was spent heading to the home base, which is a few hours outside of Manaus in the rainforest. Meetings the local staff and seeing the home base made everyone really excited to finally be here. Everyone is pretty tired from their travels, but still having a great time playing games and getting to know each other. We’re excited to get a good night’s sleep and learn more about the Amazon tomorrow!
Friday July 20, 2018
Today, we woke up to amazing views. On the girls walk down to breakfast, we even saw a Toucan! Then we took a quick lesson on Portuguese. We learned basic phrases such as greetings, thank you, water, thirsty, etc.. Then we were greeted by Carlos from the Wildlife Conservation Society. He spoke to us about saving wildlife and wild places through science, action, education, and inspiring people to value nature. Then we went around a walk around our home base, Tropical Tree Climbing.
We toured the garden and ate so many interesting plants! We saw so many interesting animals, like monkeys, lizards, and an armadillo hole. We eventually reached the Princess tree which we will soon be climbing! We got back to the home base to have some downtime; we swung in hammocks, played with the dogs, and played games. Our dinner was great! We are all having a great time, but we definitely miss our families!
-Leader of the day Piper Hauff
Saturday July 21, 2018
Today the group woke quicker than previous nights. Breakfast was great, it tasted like, and was shaped like pancakes. We followed with a name/movement game to get us moving. I think we had about 10-15 min. of “hammocks” before our guest speaker, Wezddy Del Toro Orozco, spoke. We went over her life, what we would be doing here, and the ecosystem. We ate lunch, and went on along walk, touring the camera traps. Wezddy taught us how to set them up and view the captures of animals. We had a debate immediately after, over whether or not natives should have a say in deforestation in Australia. It was about 8:40 when we had dinner.
Sunday July 22, 2018
To start today’s activities, we participated in a traditional cooking class. We made our own lunch including tapioca, tortillas and guacamole. Afterward, Wezddy showed us more videos on jaguar behaviors and tendencies before taking us jungle trekking and tree swinging. We held hands and formed rings around the “queen” tree. Then we went back and had dinner before heading out to the camp fire and then camping outdoors in the hammocks. Everyone ate marshmallows and told some really weird stories before checking out a bunch of creepy bugs with one of our guides, Leo.
-By Jared Cordova
Monday July 23, 2018
After a night of hammocking within the Amazon, our group got to wake up to the sounds of the surrounding birds, insects, reptiles, and other surrounding animals. Since we ended up waking up a little later than usual, we packed up our things and headed back to home base to have a delicious breakfast of pineapple, scrambled eggs, watermelon, and breads with cheeses. Breakfast was followed by our group’s last presentation with Wezddy, which covered problems and solutions relating to the relationship between big carnivores and humans in the Amazon. Soon after we had another tasty lunch of beans, rice, salad, pork, and steak before we settled into a game of “Duck Duck Goose” following this.
Now was time to start developing our sustainability projects that incorporate all that we have learned thus at in the Amazon to our own communities, where we separated into four groups and brainstormed ways to push for eco-friendly lifestyles closer to home. We presented our ideas to the rest of the groups and provide feedback for one another before it was time to say goodbye and thank you to Wezddy and everything she had done this week in teaching us the tasks of a biologist and sustainability in the Amazon.
Tired from our night before hammocking in the jungle, we had a fair amount of free time to rest, take a shower, and especially play card games. Right before dinner, however, we did an activity where we had to go by instinct and choose between two opposing sides, such as light and dark. After this is when we split into our two different mentor groups to discuss our results.Finally, we all had a dinner of rice with a squash stew, and bread with avocado, cucumber, and tomatoes before we spent some more free time together and then turned in for the big day tomorrow.
By Abby Wilkins
Tuesday July 24, 2018
Today we had an early morning as we prepared to leave for our second camping experience. After a delicious breakfast, we departed for our camping site. After a bumpy car ride we took a boat ride down the flooded forest of the Rio Negro. The sun was hot and a lot of students are sporting beautiful farmers tans. The campsite is a beautiful, pastel purple house on the bay of the river. Once we arrived, we all ditched our sneakers and shirts for a refreshing swim in the river. We played a few games of marco polo and even had a chicken fight! However, we had an epic dash out of the water to avoid a quick thunder storm. Lunch was a spread of piranha, rice, and spaghetti. Then we had the chance to catch piranhas of our own for dinner! Although some boats were luckier than others, we all enjoyed fishing with bamboo rods. The rest of the night was spent hanging out in hammocks which we will sleep in tonight. What a great end to amazing day!
By Reece Elowe
Wednesday July 25, 2018
Most of the group had an early morning beginning with breakfast at 6 a.m. and fishing at 7 a.m. Many students had the chance to catch piranhas for lunch and see some amazing Botos (pink Amazon dolphins). A few students also chose to sleep in this morning and enjoyed breakfast around 9 a.m. When the rest of the group returned, everyone devoured a second breakfast. Then we swam in the Rio Negro which was a nice relief from the hot Brazilian sun. We had tons of fun with more chicken fights and we were lucky enough to spot a pink river dolphin.
After that amazing experience we showered, chilled in our hammocks, and had lunch. Lunch included regular and sweet potatoes, pasta with eggs, and piranha of course! After everyone cleaned up we got back in the boats and made the journey back to hame base with a beautiful sunset to enjoy. We made two stops along the way: one to spot dolphins and one to spot parrots and a giant turkey. The parrots even spoke for us! Back at home base we had dinner with a thunderstorm brewing overhead. A perfect end to a beautiful day. Today was also my moms birthday so I would like to wish her the best birthday! Enjoy your day mom, I love you!
By Reece Elowe
Thursday July 26, 2018
The first day of physical service began with a bang! We were all still recovering from the camping/boating trip from the day before but even that didn’t break our spirits. The group cleaned the whole entire yard of sticks and planted a variety of plants including “monkey ears”. All this was done of course with tons of dancing and even a one sided walnut war. After the work we were all covered with dirt from head to toe and enjoyed nice cold showers and lovely dinner of chicken and rice. Of course the day wasnt even close to over. The group sat down to do an emotional activity which then led to a intense dance party. After an exhausting day I’m sure everyone slept insainly well.
By Nicolai Rolett
Friday July 27, 2018
In the morning we woke up to a nice breakfast of foods such as fruits. Here is where the real work began. After breakfast we got ready to begin our manual service. Very soon after we headed out in groups to do tasks such as smashing charcoal and spreading compost around the property. Everyone was pretty tired after a few hours so we came back to enjoy a very good light lunch. Two or so hours later we resumed our service under different tasks, continuing to make satisfying progress. Over our heads a storm began which was exciting, but caused us to switch our focus. Planting banana trees was the last thing we did before going back to home base. Everyone came together to eat dinner of fish and vegan options. Ending the night we hung out and journaled, after a very busy, but good day.
(find the hidden message)
Saturday July 28, 2018
Today we woke up to a breakfast of guava, pineapple, and oatmeal. Everything was so good! After breakfast, we went down to the campsite, where Chico and Igor taught us how to make a bow and arrow and how to shoot it! It was so much fun and some of us got to shoot down the target. Then, we returned to Home Base for lunch. Many were excited to see chicken on the counter. It was delicious and we were grateful for it! Afterwards, we walked to the campsite again for another activity. On the way there, Geo showed us some medicinal plants. We got to learn about different leaves that can cure a variety of problems, such as stomach ache, indigestion, headache, and bug bites. Chico also created flutes from a bamboo tree. We were put into groups at the campsite and we created songs based on the tune of our flutes. Our group recreated (or tried to recreate!) the tune of hot cross buns. We all enjoyed tapping into our musical talent! We came back to Home base again to engage in an activity where we split into four groups and debated the issue of whaling in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
We built our debate skills and got to learn more about what’s going on in other parts of the world. Later, we sat down to a great pasta dinner! Then we went to the Pousada to do an activity. We wrote down all of our expectations of Brazil before the trip and put them onto a map. We watched a Ted talk by a famous author where she spoke about how stereotypes and one-sided stories are a disadvantage to everyone. Listening to this talk helped us to realize how Brazil, and any other country, is not limited to samba and favelas. There is always more to a place than the generalizations people make. We finished off the night by watching the movie Rio 2 in the Pousada. It was interesting that we were able to recognize some plants in the movie that we didn’t know before the trip, such as the açaí berries. It’s been a long day and we are all ready to rest for tomorrow!
By Myles Almonte
Sunday July 29, 2018
Today has been a very exciting day and probably the day a lot of us were looking forward to; tree climbing!
We separated into four groups which was honestly a blessing. Two groups went today and two more will go tomorrow. Because we got to separate into smaller groups, we got to spend a lot more time in the trees without feelings of a rush. I went in the first group this morning/afternoon and besides the view being absolutely STUNNING, Vanessa and Leo made the experience suuuuper comforting. Before we actually went in the trees, Vanessa went over the mechanics with visual aids which helped my anxiety a whole lot. While we were in the trees, the others did arts and crafts or baked bread with Kinan. It also was super nice that they had other things for us to do while the groups were having fun in the trees having a whole blast.
While in the trees, our group ran across a green and black gecko that got super close to us. I mean, it touched one of our feet. Leo informed us he has never seen that kind of gecko in said tree (the trees name is Princess, by the way).
Then, in the late afternoon after we made bread, my group went to the market. The first place we went was full of beautiful jewelry that was handmade here in the Amazon. Then of course, we went next door to get some snacks for our going away party tomorrow, which honestly is going to hurt a lot. I know I’ve personally grown so fond of everyone in this house. I truly mean everyone, too, even the folks I don’t talk to much I have sweet daily interactions with that I’ll miss. To the family, to all the staff, to the scientists that came out, thank you a lot. You have all shaped my perspective in many different ways. You’re such beautiful people I’ll never forget and I do hope to visit you again.
To sum things up, today was a great day full of amazing people. I feel so lucky to be apart of this I just don’t want to make it too sappy, so I’ll end it here with a shoutout to Catherine who not only helped me fundraise but emotionally supported me the entire way, I couldn’t have been here without you. Thank you so much! 🙂
-By Kat R-H
Monday July 30, 2018
July 30th 2018 can best be defined as a bittersweet day. Bitter, as it was our last day with the Principe family. It has been two weeks since they’ve welcomed us into their home and each day has been an adventure of its own. It was really hard to fathom the fact that we were going to be leaving our new family in the Amazon. But, it was also really sweet as we got to spend our final moments in the trees with such an amazing group of people.
The day commenced with the third group getting the opportunity to venture off and climb the Princess Tree. No matter what time of the day it is, the views from that very tree make you wonder if you’ll ever see anything more exquisite. While our third group was away, the rest of us did the most simple yet amazing thing one can do on their last day in the middle of the Amazon: be in the moment. We all just enjoyed each others company as we spent time with the family, letting the day be its own.
After lunch, the fourth and final tree climbing group got to experience the magnificent views as some GLA students were off preparing pizza with Kinan. After the fourth group had returned, we celebrated our last night in the Amazon with a pizza party. Each person got to make their own pizza, adding how much of anything they wanted onto a pizza of their own. We all got to try a piece of each pizza, the combinations were very interesting and by the end of it most of us had eaten over ten pIeces of pizza (it was totally worth it). After the exquisite dinner, we had a talent show.
Charlie had taken the cake with his one man comedy stand up. But, my mom will be happy to know that I’ve finally met people that will proudly and loudly sing Hamilton with me (hi mom!!). Every act was so good though, we felt everyone’s energy and positivity in the room as the our final night took its course. The night ended on a peaceful note. We talked, laughed, and felt the most unconditional love that this Amazonian household has to offer. July 30th 2018 was indeed a bittersweet day.
-By Mona Chahfe
Tuesday July 31, 2018
Today was a sad but yet exciting day; we had to depart from the wonderful family that was willing to host us. On the other hand, we had a long and successful flight to Rio! We got to meet our new hosts and got to see our new home for the next week.
Wednesday August 1, 2018
Today we woke up to monkeys outside the porch. Then some decided to feed the monkeys was it a good idea? we don’t know. After that, we went to a local art store and stopped at a market to grab some snacks. Next, we were headed to Copacabana beach and had a blast swimming. Although, the weather was a bit chilly and the current was very strong but that made fun for swimming. Later, we headed back to the home base and hung out for the rest of the night!
Thanks for reading my blog! Hope you enjoyed it!
Thursday August 2, 2018
August 2nd: It was the first service day in Rio! We started our day off at 8:30 to head to the two favelas partnered up with some members of the group Community in Action they split us into two groups, one group cleaned a garden that they had in the favela and the other group went to a different favella and painted a mural of colorful houses in a classroom at local community center. Each group has two days at each community then we’ll switch.
The group I was with went to the garden today, it was a really amazing experience being in the community and talking to the locals. While we were picking up trash and pulling out weeds there were kids that came over to help us which was really cute and actually super helpful. Half way through we had a lunch break and talked more with the local family we were helping then we got back to work! We were there for another three or four hours then we headed back to home base. Today was a really amazing day, getting to talk to the kids and the family we were working with was absolutely awesome.
-By María Torres
Friday August 3, 2018
Today, we continued service in the favelas! Group 1 went back to manguinhos where we began building a new and improved chicken coop and put up new fences. After lunch, we played soccer with the kids and sadly we lost :(. At the same time, group 2 was in the Complexo do Alemão, painting another mural for the community with the kids. We came home to a delicious dinner including pasta, rice, beans, and flan for dessert! We then did an activity where we closed our eyes and the chosen ones tapped people who they believed represented the qualities read aloud. This activity was team building and motivating. We then discussed our days and gave advice for the service work tomorrow when we switch places. The night ended with Dafne showing us her secret talent of levitating peanuts and we all tried, but did not all succeed except for me, goodnight!
-by Juliet Murphy
Saturday August 4, 2018
Today was an exciting day as group 1 and group 2 switched jobs. Group one, who had previously painted, went into a favela to garden. They spent the day finished the chicken coop that group 2 had started the previous day. After the chicken coop, the group gardened and planted plants such as peppers, violet and passion fruit. While group 1 was gardening, group 2 started to paint. Once group 2 arrived at the community center, they were split into two groups. The first group spent the morning constructing a wall out of cement. The second group spent the morning painting a mural of the rainforest with forest animals and waterfalls.
After lunch the groups switched jobs, therefore the first group finished the mural while the second group finished constructing the wall. After both groups finished their jobs, group 2 decided to celebrate by having a paint fight. They used their brushes and hands to throw paint at each other. After service, both group 1 and group 2 convened at the hostel to grab money and head to the market alongside the Copacabana beach. At the market we were given 45 minutes to buy souvenirs and after shopping we stopped at the market to grab some more snacks. After shopping, we all went back to the hostel and hung out until it was time to go to bed.
-By Annabelle Derrick
We wrapped up our service in the favelas doing more work in the garden and painting at a community center. It’s been really cool getting to work within a community and see how much people truly care about their neighbors. Our group in the garden got to play a pickup game of soccer with some local kids and it was so fun to see everyone play together (language barriers aside).
After returning to homebase, we went to an all you can eat sushi-slash-pizza restaurant, which is something I never knew I needed in my life. It’s hard to believe the trip is already almost over. We all went to bed in food comas excited for the city tour tomorrow!
Monday August 6, 2018
The trip has flown by! We shipped out early to see all the major sites in Rio: São Conrado beach, Rocinha favela, Floresta da Tijuca, Parque Lage, Cristo do Corcovado and Pão de açucar. Sadly, the weather was less than ideal and we ended up sightseeing through thick fog and rain. Everyone had phenomenal attitudes about it, though, and we played in the rain.
Dinner at the homebase included a live samba band and the locals we’d been working with to celebrate with us. Everyone danced and George showed off his breakdancing skills. It was great. Everyone’s pretty sad to say goodbye tomorrow, but we’re so glad to have met and shared all of these crazy experiences together. Until next time!
-by Daph & Daf