Pacha, Yani and I have just emerged from the cloud forest once again and will be in communication with the world for the next 30 hours before returning to El Milagro - so here´s a quick update about a few of our mutual projects in Ecuador.

Los Cedros Biological Reserve :
I stayed with Murray Cooper and his family recently and at least had a bit of an update about Los Cedros. It seems that things are going reasonably well there, though the biggest issue is still with boundary protection. It seems that volunteers have a hard time sticking with things up there (which I can understand - 6 hours walk from the nearest village is a pretty remote location. I would still like to go and visit but haven´t heard from Jose De Coux when and how would best suit. I´ll let you know (John and Ruth) when
things become clearer.

Murray has recently published an amazing book of photographs of birds and is as positive and active as always - he sends his warmest regards to all his friends from Japan and Australia.

Esmeraldas, Olmedo, San Lorenzo.
Marcelo is now working with Patricio Tamariz on community/sustainable/eco tourism initiatives for the coast of Ecuador and recently travelled to this area. He reports that Madre Selva in San Lorenzo looks abandoned. John and Ruth have you kept in any contact with Martha Mondragon (I heard she is in the USA) to see what has happened with the deeds to this land? If there is anything you would like me to try to do with this project while I am here - please let me know.

Marcelo tried to find Papa Roncon but couldn´t find him but did meet Carlos Rubio who sends his greetings to all. It seems that Luz De Alba no longer lives in the area and I´m not sure if the tourism project in Olmedo is continuing. There is another one started up with assistance from a different foundation. Marcelo couldn´t find Patricio Tumbaco at his farm near Olmedo and it looked all boarded up. He says one of the tallest mangrove trees has died due to the construction of a shrimp farm nearby. It´s sad news to hear...we just couldn´t do anything more with this and all the other projects...

Cerro Seco/Bahia/Rio Muchacho
As I have mentioned, people like Nicola, Patricio, Flor Maria, Planet Drum and Marcelo have continued on their respective projects and there is still a higher eco-awareness in Bahia compared to other parts of Ecuador. It is coming up to the 10th anniversary of the Eo-city and Mangrove day (Feb 2009) - and this may be a good opportunity to encourage more eco-action here. The Cerro Seco reserve still exists, is still welcoming volunteers, is collaborating with the local municipality on eco-tourism projects and environmental education and the nearby comunity of Bella Vista have won some prizes for separation of rubbish and as a well managed community. I visited Rio Muchacho and things look excellent there, the gardens have expanded, there are many workshops and volunteers and the environmental school is still running well (thanks to support from the Sloth Club and others) (I am sure you will hear more soon from Ami!).

El Milagro/Pucara/Intag
Over the past few weeks the main project at El Milagro has been replacing the sugar cane grass roof on the round house. We have had 2 volunteers from Japan and a 17 year old volunteer from India is currently at the site. I am in communication with Karin about long term volunteering from November and am also in contact with Peter Shear from the eco-village project about cooperation for the future.

I am also trying to organise a soya workshop in Pucara with the help of Ami and Watanabe-san. Local people are very concerned about the weather, with rain continuing instead of the warm dry
months that should be here. They need dry weather for their bean and pea crops to dry to be able to harvest - and it is also important for drying the coffee harvest (which has been poor also due to too much rain)...

I met with Alcamari (Mayor Auki´s wife) last week in Cotacachi and helped her with interviews for English teachers for Las Lomas school. I believe the municipal government is participating in some way to make this an alternative school of some kind...but I´m really sure about the intricacies.

From what I have seen so far I believe Intag is more advanced than the town of Cotacachi in terms of community and environmental awareness. There are many positive initiatives being promoted by a range of foundations and NGOs and largely due to the progressive Intag newspaper and the local radio, it seems that in general people are more aware of environmental issues.

I´ll get back to the kids now - but will try to get back online before leaving Otavalo on Friday morning.

Love to all,
For Life, anja

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