Boots, Birds, and Binocs... Peru 2011
 It feels weird to be gone from Cocha Cashu. This evening we arrived at Yine Lodge and discovered a number of luxuries that had become foreign to us. Bathrooms, showers, beds and a large dinner table felt like relics from our past. For some people our experience tonight would be “roughing it” but for me it feels as comfortable as a 5 star hotel.  So, while I enjoyed all these things, I am starting to lose the sense that I am in the rainforest. This morning started in Cocha Cashu, where I woke early to collect one last data set and pack my things. At nine, we set off from the shore, leaving the research station behind.  Once out on the water, I was reminded why I had enjoyed the other boat trips so much. As we rode, a gentle cool breeze flowed over the boat and the warmth of the day combined with the slight rocking of the boat lulled me to sleep. When I woke, I spent some time enjoying the trip and since most of the others were sleeping, it gave me time to reflect on the value of a place like Cocha Cashu. 

Cocha Cashu is a pretty incredible place. Set apart even within a National Park, it has some of the most impressive natural beauty I have ever seen. It is a small unassuming place, just three small buildings on the shore of a cashew shaped lake (hence the name). But it is surrounded by the Amazon rainforest and an extensive trail system, so that even the most adventurous would have a tough time exploring the entire area. Waking up each day, I was met by the smell of fresh air and the sounds of animals echoing through the forest. I had the opportunity to walk through the trails surrounded by wildlife; monkeys climb through the branches just above my head and birds singing as they flew through the canopy. But, there was also the constant threat of insects and spiders. Mosquitoes were quite a nuisance throughout the day and at night it seemed as if hand sized spiders were lurking in every corner. Yet, the dangers can be easily overlooked in light of the overwhelming beauty of the area. 

Reflecting back now, it is sad to be gone and sadder to think about the future of a place like Cocha Cashu. Over the course of the trip, we have done a lot of reading about threats to the Amazon. Whether it be logging, or mining, or even the people living within the park itself, there are a number of serious threats out there. While we discussed many ways to help solve the problems, to help bring protection to such a beautiful area of the world, I think the real issue is that people don’t know what the rainforest is like. They haven’t experienced  its beauty, they haven’t seen its trees or its birds or even its rare flat frogs for that matter. Too many people are missing out on one of the greatest aspects of our world. And yes, it is impossible and impractical to try and get everyone to experience the rainforest in a direct way, but indirectly there must be ways to express its value. Hopefully this blog can serve as such an avenue. By reading it, one can be taken along on our trip and gain a greater appreciation for the rainforest.