Lunch served in banana leaf bowls.
It's weird how, when you spend a large amount of time in a foreign place, you begin to feel like it's yours. You feel almost as if you own it...when really, it's just become part of you, and it owns you. Anyway, that's how we felt when we were told that a group of a dozen or so people would be hiking up to the lodge to take a look at it and to hike around the reserve for the afternoon with Sebastián. We felt like our home was being invaded...even though we had only been there for just over a week and a half. The lodge had become ours and we felt like our territory was being invaded by all these strangers, even though we had been strangers to eachother and to those on the reserve just days earlier. We felt as if our space had been invaded, and almost all ended up leaving the main floor of the lodge after we ate.
Leslie planting some trees to help replace those that were cut down to make the lodge.
Brittney, Aimee and I went up to the top level of the lodge (that you could only really enter onto from Daniel's room) so we could get away from everything and just hang out, and even there, a few of the group of hikers found us and invaded.
Lunch, however, was one of the best we had had, because it was part of the experience for this group of tourists that had showed up. We were served in banana leaf bowls so there would be no dishes to clean and a slimmer chance of running out of water (which happened almost daily since we were there just at the very start of the rainy season and the barrels hadn't had enough time to fill completely with water).
After they all left, and we had calmed down and gotten our space back, we went out to plant trees.
Brittney making chocolate out of cocao beans from the fruit around the reserve.
The trees we were planting were replacing those Sebastián had cut down to build the lodge, which had really only been finished 9 or 10 months before we arrived (we were only the 3rd ISV group to live there). Although we didn't have enough shovels, it was nice to plant the trees and feel like I was really giving back to the rainforest. Research is great, but planting a tree is something tangible that I know I did to help the Kekoldi Reserve.
It started raining while we were out planting trees, and had gotten dark quickly...and we had gone down a slope way off the trail in order to plant the trees. Getting back to the lodge wasn't very fun, and to top it off, we ran out of water almost immediately after we got back, so only one person got to shower.
Aimee and me working on some mac-n-cheese as a pick me up for the group.
It was nearing the end of our two weeks at Kekoldi, and everyone was really starting to get on everyone's nerves. Luckily, that night was the night I made mac-n-cheese for everyone. Pablo said it was the first time anyone from the group had asked to make dinner. That felt pretty good. Aimee helped me out a lot with the mac-n-cheese, and Brittney finished making a chocolate sauce she had been in the process of making for a few days. The chocolate came from roasted and ground up cacao seeds that were dried in the sun for a few days and then put on the stove. We didn't have real milk, or much sugar, so the chocolate sauce was a difficult thing to make. Everyone loved the mac-n-cheese, and it was a nice change and a reminder of home. It, along with the chocolate sauce with pineapples dipped in it calmed everyone down and took away a lot of the tension that had been building in the past few days.
Sebastián and Pablo very proud of the pizzas they made in the brick oven the group before us built.
Two days later, our two weeks at Kekoldi had come to an end. None of us could really believe it as we packed up our stuff into our packs, took some final pictures, said goodbye to the kids, and headed down to the road. It didn't feel like we were really leaving, and even though we were all really looking forward to the next two weeks (the adventure tour around the entire country) we had gotten comfortable on the reserve, taking quick, cold showers, eating food that all had a similar taste in it (probably from the pots or the water or some sort of seasoning), hiking, hammocks, the kids, etc. When the bus came, we all said good-bye to Daniel, and followed Pablo into the vehicle that would take us away from Kekoldi. The whole ride consisted of: "Wow, I can't believe that was two weeks." "I'm gunna miss the Weimer and Deyedi and Adonoy." "I want to go back...who wants to come with me?"