Tiputini Research Site, Ecuador--Do the world's tribes enjoy any pastimes in common? Probably not. But one lazy afternoon, four guys raised far from one another delighted in a mutual passion in the forest of the Amazon basin of eastern Ecuador, giving renewed hope of cross cultural harmony.
Two visitors to the Tiputini Research Station in Ecuador's rain forest proposed the diversion over a hearty lunch of steak and potatoes. They yelled an invitation across the open-air dining hall to two staff members who had cut the meat and cooked the fries, and in a moment they had a plan.
The four would meet 20 minutes after the meal, at the dock where boatmen tie up dugout canoes piled with the camp's supplies.
Diego Savard, one of the visitors, speaks English with a rare accent---he's the son of a Canadian mother and Spanish father. Ryan Gillard, a lanky native of New Hampshire, studies biology at Saint Lawrence University far upstate from New York City.
Like most guests, these young men---the first 26 and the other 21---came to Tiputini to do scientific grunt work---like painting new trail markers---and tread the springy soil of one of Earth's natural wonders.
Tiputini is one of a few of research camps where scientists from the United States visit to study rain forest flora and fauna.
Kelly Swing, Tiputini's founder and co-director, carved the site from pristine jungle on a bank of the Tiputini River in 1994. He intended it to be out beyond human influence. Oil exploration and drilling have brought bring civilization closer. But it is still 14 miles from the nearest road...