Reports from the Field

Reforestation Volunteer


By: Sophie Duchesne | Posted on: 11 Aug 2019

I first found out about Global Nomadic through the Linkedin website. Once I was accepted, I was excited and looked for flights. The team was helpful and timely in getting back to all my questions. I was hoping to give my time and labor to help the reforestation efforts, as well as learn how these types of remediation projects unfold first hand.

Once I arrived I was greeted by an intern (Xiang, we became good friends) and the “EcoSwell” dog (Luna, technically the neighbors).

I was introduced to everyone and given an orientation by the volunteer coordinator, Ellie (technically Ellen).  My bag hadn’t arrived in Talara yet, and Ellie was very considerate in asking what I’d had in my bag and assuring me they had those things around the house. I felt looked after the entire time by Ellie, she was very attentive and genuinely cared for all the volunteers. She made sure that we were doing okay in the hot sun and having a good time in Lobitos. Daniella, my reforestation partner, taught me how to use the drip irrigation system and check on each plant in the Zion Sunset dry forest. Very similar drip irrigation was used to water the plants around the house with some exceptions which needed to be hand watered. She showed me how to maintain the plant nursery and germination station as well. There was documents on the irrigation, maintenance, transplanting and local species. They made information easier to pick up and were helpful to refer back to.

The food was delicious, Quenni helped with the cooking on week days and she knew some really high protein vegan meals (ex. lentil burgers). My very favorite dish was the spaghetti with beats and potatoes.

Everyone insists it’s just normal spaghetti with onion and oil, but they’re hiding something from me. While delicious, the days without a high protein lunch meant I had to make myself rice and beans and/or eat the entire supply of peanuts. It was challenging to be strictly vegan in Lobitos and get enough protein some days. I found some elusive soy milk (and almond milk, but it was kind of pricey) at the Plaza Vea when getting groceries in Talara which helped a lot.

A couple of days the wifi wouldn’t work much and one evening the water was out for a few hours, but it was a minor inconvenience and both issues were resolved quickly. The showers were cold which was difficult for me to get used to, I found if I washed one area at a time it was a lot easier to manage. The rooms were cozy and clean and the roof was great if I needed a moment alone. The dry toilet is well maintained and had no spiders.

The people at the project and Lobitos touched my heart and I felt like the entire house was a big family. I didn’t feel lonely at all in Lobitos, the people were very warm and everyone waved at each other on the street. Even though I came only knowing a few Spanish phrases, people taught me Spanish words along the way and were very patient about it. The language barrier didn’t stop us from finding things to laugh about, and google translate was a great help.

After my first week I told Ellie that I felt I could be doing more work and she was responsive and gave me more responsibility at the next weekly meeting. This gave Daniella more time to create a report on Ecobricks for the next volunteers as well. I felt honored to be trusted with irrigating and looking after the dry forest by myself. I did more transplanting on my second week as well. Something that upset me was seeing the young algarrobo trees being affecting by a plague and not being able to really help them. We made homemade neem pesticide for better understood pests and started some trials on it.

I feel that the project is doing impactful and altruistic environmental work that Lobitos is proud of. I wish I could have stayed longer and done more to help the project, but I know the plants I looked after and transplanted will have grown one day if I come back and that I made a small but real difference. The project exceeded all of my expectations and I highly recommend volunteering for them. On the weekends we went out to Talara, explored, went on a boat to see the oil rigs covered in seals and I even tried surfing. Naiana, the VP coordinator, held Yoga classes in the evenings during sunset which were very peaceful.

Overall, volunteering here was one of the most rewarding and memorable experiences of my life. Thank you to the Global Nomadic team for leading me to this opportunity.

I also saw flamingos FLYING. Which I was honestly unaware they could even do.

Reforestation & Cultural Exchange in Peru

 

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Author Bio
Sophie Duchesne

Sophie Duchesne
Posted on: 11 Aug 2019