The Kalu Yala Blog

Hummingbirds, Medicinal Herbs, and Raft 3.0 of Stint Five

April 12, 2013

by Daniel Kwon
Posted In: Adventures in the Tropics

Hi Reader,

Welcome to my fifth journal of what happened during my fifth stint in the Tres Brazos Valley where the Kalu Yala field station is. This past fifth stint had been from Mar 20, 2013 (Wed) until Mar 28, 2013 (Thurs). Of the three teams out in the jungle (agriculture, outdoor recreation, and biology), I’ll try to focus writing about the specific achievements the biology team made. Nonetheless, I shall include highlights of my interaction with the outdoor recreation team in my effort to build better rafts, and my collaboration with the agriculture team to develop a medicinal herbs project.

The water system had been completed by our biology team last stint (during stint four) and we have been maintaining the system. The system has failed to produce consistent water flow since the first two days it became operational. It has been our team’s diagnosis that having reductions are the problem. If we remove the smaller 0.5″, 1″, and 1.5″ pipes in favor of all 2″ pipes, then reverse pressure would be avoided and the water would flow all the way to base unhindered. The team has been on standby to swap out the pipings as soon as approval is received from our headquarters in the city. Until then, the only outcome of constantly keeping the water system active is to have the pipes burst along the Iguana River, causing mud and pollutants to wash into the fresh water there.

A brighter news report comes from the progress made on my second raft. This descendant of the original prototype is twice as wide, two feet longer, and equipped with more than four times as much surface area of hollow pontoons to keep the raft afloat.

The 2.0 Clean-Edge Raft
This picture depicts a clean-edge raft that is 8′ by 8′ and much more superior than my first raft.

Additionally, this second raft has been tied up with paracord, a superior alternative to standard (polyethylene) rope. It shall be our vision to set this second raft onto the water in the Pacora River by the start of our final stint to evaluate how well it keeps people aboard afloat.

Besides my raft construction, another project I have been trying to expand on is our biology team’s efforts to do ornithological studies on birds in our valley region. This project has become more clear with the construction of bird feeders that may catalyze the appearance of birds in our region.

Hummingbird Feeder
This picture depicts a bamboo section that can be filled with sugar water to feed hummingbirds.

It shall be my hope to attract a substantial number of hummingbirds (and other species as well) into our field research station in order to receive the benefits of their presence. Two important factors include their positive impact on ecotourism (as guests love to see exotic wildlife), and their pollination ability to improve the floral health of flowers and plants nearby. It is likely that the farm and agriculture team will receive great benefit from the progress made on this biological research project.

Finally, it has been my vision to see the agriculture team become self-sufficient to grow a larger number of medicinal plants out in the valley, especially for daily use as it is difficult for valley interns to purchase anything from a nearby pharmacy when in need of remedies. My idea was to have the agriculture team cultivate aloe vera for soothing sunburns, and ginger for energizing interns with a proven stimulant to grind into their drinks. Hopefully the plant garden collection at our San Miguel location will be transported to the valley for further research of their potential value in the farm.

It shall be my hope during the final sixth stint to see this medicinal herb project flourish in the valley, as well as to attract a significant amount of pollinators to our farm and to set sail our sturdiest raft possible.

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