“Yasuní-ITT”—the proposal by the Ecuadorian government to leave 900 million barrels of oil underground in exchange for international compensation (and, not incidentally, also the topic of my thesis)—has evolved into a powerful symbol. When I first started my research, commentators were already declaring the proposal to be the solution to climate change and the harbinger… Continue reading The Wheels Come Off the Yasuní Bus (And My Thesis?)
It’s amazing that I’ve already been back in the United Statse for a week. As usual, the transition is much faster than I would have imagined. Preoccupations with my Spanish skills and obsession with grabbing a few more interviews have quickly fated, as I shift gears back into ivory tower mode. Some things stay with… Continue reading Hot Latin Romance
One day in eighth grade, when my mother was out of town, my dad picked me up to school. At this point in my life, all I wanted to do after 3:30 p.m. was get home and fry my brain with hours and hours of video games (I think it was Starcraft at that point),… Continue reading In My Father’s Shoes
I’m still in Ecuador, but for all intents and purposes my thesis research is over. Upon coming back from Yasuní, my dad and I returned to Quito, where we immediately were picked up to go to Maquipucuna Lodge, in the liminal zone between the Andes and the Coast. Decades ago, my dad helped some young… Continue reading The End (As Seen From Paradise)
It’s a little bit absurd to say this, but up until Wednesday of last week, I had never actually seen Yasuní Park. As my research went on, my understanding of Yasuní-ITT moved from generalizations drawn from the secondary literature and rumors collected in Quito to concrete, firsthand accounts on the ground. Yasuní itself, however, remained… Continue reading There and Back Again: A Barnard’s Tale
Here’s an idea that doesn’t get nearly enough consideration in the development community: poor countries are poor because they’re hot. Okay, I’m not going to try even a half-assed defense of that statement. I’m pretty sure there’s no shortage of peer-reviewed articles that disprove the climate-development link, and that if I thought for four seconds… Continue reading Heat
I’ve often wondered whether people who live their entire lives in places with really fantastic National-Geographic-esque animals still get excited when they see them. Are elephants still cool if you live in Kenya? And are squirrel monkeys equally entertaining for Amazonians as they are for me, or are they just like, well, squirrels? For their… Continue reading On the Need for a Huaorani A.L.F.
I don’t speak a word of Huaorani. I didn’t speak a word of Huaorani before I went into Huaorani territory, and despite five days of the guides trying to teach me a few basic phrases, I still don’t speak a word of Huaorani. (It’s a reminder that, although I have managed to learn enough Spanish… Continue reading Huaoranglish
One of the highlights of my five day romp in Huaorani territory was that I didn’t just get to spend time with my guides, but their entire families. Transport in and out of these remote villages is expensive, so when a gringo is travelling around, everyone takes advantage of the free lift. Among our passengers… Continue reading Pinnacle of Evolution
This weekend, I was the future of the Huaorani nation. This may sound like a rather strong and paternalistic statement coming from a non-Huaorani, but I’m pretty sure the four Huaorani guides with which I travelled this weekend would agree. Indeed, ask almost anyone in the Ecuadorian Amazon what they will live off of if… Continue reading Ecotourism Will Save Us All!