Tuesday, June 29, 2010


Well, to kill the suspense, I have arrived safely. I flew to Miami with just enough time to get from one gate to the next and sit down for a few minutes, then I boarded my flight for Quito. Luckily for me, I sat next to a fellow university gradĂșate from Texas, Alejandra. Conversation included university studies, job prospects, Twilight (Im very serious), and meeting up in Quito in a few days. So, Ill have my own tour guide through the best parts of the city, in meantime I will probably end up in the worst parts of the city alone…ha ha just kidding, I have better street smarts then that- lets hope. Alejandra, my new life line, and I tipped a guy pushing a wheelchair a couple dollars to get us through the horrible customs line. Yes- we are skilled, and it was well worth my dollar, especially since- mind you, I was carrying my 40lbs backpack. Anywho, she and I said our brief goodbyes once I found my hotel car waiting to drive me safely to my sanctuary. Imagine my surprise when I saw a nice BMW waiting to take me….SIKE….I saw a lady holding a less than official pen sketched sign reading “Melanie- Villa Nancy” who whisked me away and put me in the back of the taxi, and without a word, she turned back to the airport and I was driven off in the taxi. I have a lot of trust in people. I immediately noticed the altitude effects on my body. My heart felt like it was working overtime. And, I also immediately noticed the American influence with an eatery named “American Deli” and the perfect place to rend a car- “Nazcar”.I arrived at my “hotel” about 15 minutes later. Its more like a hostal really. Its the size of a big house, very casual, but at least I have my own room (and bathroom for that matter) because in a week- I´ll be bunking it up. My sleep was occassionally interrupted by the gate buzzer, as it is required to be manually unlocked in order for you to enter the property. With my early morning rise, I noticed that Quito is very urban, with lots of traffic and buildings- but I have a beautiful view of the mountain side from my hotel. Quito is nestled right along side it and in the valley- so the cool air is very welcoming after leaving Wilmington´s ridiculously stupid-hot summer weather. I really didn´t intend to ramble this much so- I´m alive and I am about to search for lunch!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Score is 1-0 Nature

The weigh-in occurred, and it is official… my back WILL break.

Backpack: 19 kg ~ 41 lbs
Melanie: 52 kg ~ 114 lbs

So, I have spent the past couple weeks packing and re-packing my bags. Yesterday, momma sat down with me and went through every part of my bag to make sure everything going to Ecuador was absolutely essential- after all, I would be carrying around my luggage on my back. Her ruthlessness caused the removal of a battery powered hand fan, cooling mist, an extra toothbrush, batteries, a pair of jeans, and numerous other small items. I guess I can manage without the cooling mist, but a little luxury would have been nice when living 6 months wearing the same 6 shirts and 5 shorts in rotation. I started to think that I wasn’t tough enough to take on the Amazon.


I was reading a book yesterday. A good book. Minding my own business. I had a lamp on to assist my reading. And, out of no where a moth came crashing into the light, bouncing into my face, and getting caught in my hair. The moth had surprise on its side. And I freaked out. Dropped the book, losing my place, then wiggled in ways I didn’t know was possible. It was a test to see if I was ready for the jungle, and I failed. No other way around it. Nature won. I thought I was ready, but that simple episode caused me to re-think the entire trip…again. Maybe I am just too much of a “girly” hard-core girl. I can manage 900 lbs horses, jump 50ft cliffs into the ocean, go without showering longer than I’m willing to admit, but I like my blow dryer, my earrings, my flats, and my cooling mist! I’m still going- surprise, surprise- but I have started to mentally prepare for the endless sneak attacks the bugs will have planned for me. I am prepared….prepared to exterminate and disappoint the bugs with my malaria pills and 45% DEET- ha, take that!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Dusting off the Passport.. the American one

So, I never thought I would see the day…me…blogging. eek. I apologize in advance for the pain you may suffer while reading scattered thoughts, horrible spelling, and my attempt to explain my experiences in Ecuador. But, hopefully as you read my blog, it will stay true to Melanie Forbes (and not some failed dream of being intellectual and witty) and you will hear my familiar voice. (clever, right? ...for those of you who missed that- that's the inspiration for the title of my blog)

Here I am- a week out from my big adventure, and like many of you- I have tons of questions. The most forefront right now is- how often will I be updating this? After all, I will be in the middle of the jungle, without electricity. I will make this promise: every chance I get to a computer- I WILL update my blog, facebook photos, emails, whatever. Those updates will probably be few and far between though. But, why worry about the things I can’t control, let alone don’t know? So, moving right along- I will tell you, my interested reader, a bit about what I will be doing in Ecuador.

Like many recent graduates, the immediate pressure of figuring out my “next step” hit me hard. I am young, ambitious, with the world at my finger tips- which left my options far from limited. With majors in Environmental Science and Spanish, one of my thoughts was to fully develop my Spanish. You would think that taking Spanish classes would keep me from stumbling in basic conversation, but thanks to the structural set-up of classes taught by “doctors” I am more of a listener than a talker (which doesn’t happen often). Needless to say, practice makes perfect- so I might as well practice more. I had bookmarked a web page back in the fall; a few weeks ago I was refreshed as to why- the organization Global Vision International offered a variety of opportunities, long term and short term, in numerous countries. I applied for a 6 month internship in Ecuador that focused on rainforest conservation, and a week later- I got a call saying I had been accepted. Although I was excited, I definitely had some hesitations as well: mainly the time frame. I was accepted June 8 and was told to be in Ecuador by June 28. The past couple of weeks have been hectic with visa applications, hotel reservations, and immunizations…FOUR to be exact- and they were horrible. I will be leaving Raleigh, NC to arrive in Quito, Ecuador on June 28. I will be in the capital for a few days before I’m off to the jungle for 10weeks. I will be in the Yachana Reserve, roughing it without electricity and rocking quick-dry clothing. I will then have a couple weeks off before returning to the reserve for the remaining 3 months, where I will be volunteering at a local high school and interning in the afternoons doing biological surveying.

Anyways, I know its brief- but you will be getting the full details in time. Mom made me promise not to blog anything that would make her worry about me- but that could just about be everything, since I am her baby girl. But, I feel like I would be doing a disservice by not mentioning the random snake I may cross or the local delicacy I probably shouldn’t have tried- so don’t worry, I won’t spare too many details.
Happy reading!