Hey my name is Lillian, the new Volunteer Coordinator here at Iracambi! After the first week of my stay at Iracambi being nothing but blue skies, it is only fair that the second is filled with rain. Well, we are in a Rainforest. An upside, the rain has brought along a cool break to the New Year’s heat. Downside, snakes love moist weather. Yesterday, I nearly stepped on a Jararaca snake, which lead to me squeaking; squealing and sprinting away (think three little pigs).
Other than snakes and a wandering spider spotting, my first weeks have been packed with new faces, ideas and information. My first day, I was given the famous Robin Tour. Aka, a four-hour drive in Robin’s beat up, (ever-lasting) Land Rover, in which he shows the surrounding area while explaining brief histories of the current socio-environmental issues. The area has been heavily farmed – with both pastures and commercial forests – which you can see by the heavy presence of Eucalyptus and Coffee bushes. The images of thick non-indigenous forest validated the need for community reforestation efforts.
Apparently, four hours was long a Robin Tour, they usually last only an hour or two. I was happy to get back to Iracambi and Carminha’s delicious food. I was ready to learn more about the ins and outs of the organization. Providing me training has been Imran, the previous volunteer coordinator and advocate for the organization and local community. While learning the logistics, I was also able to learn the water and wifi systems – they both went out over the course of three days.
It has not been only work here at Iracambi. I have been able to explore the surrounding areas and trails with Tony, a Brazilian university student doing a research project at Iracambi, as well as visit the mountain house – I hope to be spend the night there soon! But for now, while my current work and the rain are persistent in keeping my wanderings to a minimum, I have been learning more about Tony’s project.
Tony is studying Civil and Environmental Engineering at the Universidade Vale do Rio Doce here in the state of Minas Gerias. He found out about Iracambi through a speech made by Binka at the nearby University of Vicosa. Tony grew up in a city, separate from the forest environment. After experiencing a motorcycle accident when he was a teenager, he was inspired to look at life through a different perspective. It was then that he found environmental focused projects and developed an interested in protected areas and advocating for the connection between urban settings and nature.
His project at Iracambi focuses on comparing and contrasting rates of erosion in native areas, coffee plantations and eucalyptus forests. Tony plans to use the research as a base to continue investigating the effects of different vegetation on soil and water quality. Although he is only staying for a few more days, future volunteers will monitor his project and he is planning to return to Iracambi to follow up and record the results. I look forward to learning more about it!
Just joining us is Arielle, a girl from the local town, Rosario da Limeira. She is a member of Iracambi’s board and is staying here for two weeks to help with accounting as well as learn the ins and outs of Iracambi. I hope that we will have a language exchange so I can learn Portuguese – an essential here!