Forest Protection Team Photos

(RED) The textile artisanal women of Chinchero, giving a demonstration on how they dye their wool using natural dyes.


(YELLOW) A Cusqueña Dorada, the favorite beer of Cusco, and our lovely tour guide to Cusco, Giovanna, in the background.



(GREEN) Inca ruins in Moray, Northwest of Cusco
(BLUE) The plaza in Cusco in the evening.
(PURPLE) A mural that Jason, Christina and I saw while we were walking through Cusco.

Continue reading “Forest Protection Team Photos”

How to Tell if Your Bunkmate is the Chullachaki

Christina (“Sunshine”), ready to do battle with any forest monsters!

While in Las Piedras, we learned about the legend of the forest creature known as the Chullachaki (Choo-ya-cha-kee), whose name comes from the Quechuan words Chulla (unpaired) and Chaki (foot). Able to appear in the form of any person or animal (minus one of its feet, which always remains the foot of a deer), the Chullachaki lures unsuspecting victims into the depths of the jungle, never to be seen again… It’s a story creepy enough to cause any volunteer or traveler to quake in their rubber boots. If the idea of crossing paths with such a monster makes you rethink your Perú travel plans, however, never fear! We here at The Forest Online have developed this handy-dandy flowchart for you to bring with you so that you can discern between friend and deer-footed foe:

Is Your Bunkmate the Chullachaki?


Come meet us in person!

Join us for in-person storytelling, with tons of multimedia: video clips of puma, interviews with people who live in the rainforest, pictures of monkeys, and Q&A about much, much more.

Thursday, March 31st, in Decker auditorium (adjacent to Lewis Hall of Science on McDaniel campus).

All welcome! Free and open to the public.

monkey with child
photo by Sami Wilson

First visit? Check out: Intro postMeet the team – Our January itinerary – Conservation and development – Familiar strangers

Familiar Strangers in the Forest

IMG_2054Deep in the heart of the Amazon jungle, an eclectic group spread across rough-hewn benches on a packed-earth floor, sipping fresh-made tea. They were gathered at a new site for conservation and education, the Las Piedras Amazon Center (LPAC). Rain drummed against a large tarp roof as the group of participants, from all over the world, sat elbow-to-elbow:

  • Twelve American college students, from many different disciplines
  • Nine Future Leaders—young Peruvian professionals and college students
  • Six local partners, from scientists to support staff
  • Two volunteers from Europe, accomplished professionals eager to share their expertise

The participants were gathered for a two-day workshop, focused on learning and telling some of the stories of the Madre de Dios rainforest, one of the most biodiverse places on earth. They were gathered to dialogue across political and cultural borders–an important task, requiring both small steps and big leaps of confidence.

The conversation focused on the intersection of ecotourism, sustainable farming, and wildlife conservation and kicked off with a panel discussion led by Dr. Jason Scullion (president of Wild Forest and Fauna), Luis Garcia (president of ARCAmazon), and Romulo (president of Palma Reale). Each panel member shared their nonprofit’s history and its mission.

They explained afresh that the challenges each of their organizations face share many commonalities: their dedication to the region and its diversity, the momentary setbacks their missions have faced, and what they hope to achieve. At each step of the way, they answered many student questions–about sustainability and opportunities, about environmental impact and networking potentials, about the rainforest and its inhabitants.

The incredible work showcased was invigorating; the interest in everyone’s faces was clear. Each new facet of the discussion hinted at the enormous promise the Las Piedras Amazon Center has for bringing far-flung people together.

For the next day of the workshop, everyone moved around and joined one of five different teams. Their objective? Simply to “tell a story, focusing on first impressions of the rainforest with the outside world.”

Introductions began, conversations started. As each group set to work, the writers had to work through different expectations of storytelling, different languages, different experiences and beliefs. Together, they wrote their stories in both English and Spanish, refining them in multiple stages with additional facts and context.

There was back and forth between people who had just met each other for the first time, brought together in an unfamiliar environment by their admiration for the beauty and thrill of the wild. There was a lot of awkward translation and searching for words, sustained by friendly smiles and genuine interest in how the other person saw the world. And as they worked, they discovered how many commonalities they had with each other, how familiar these former “strangers” began to feel.


The workshop leaders initially thought that everyone would focus on their own stories, their own experiences. While those factors influenced the participants’ storytelling decisions, what was written was more imaginative, more surprising, than they first expected.

Read them here for yourself:

Of course, it’s hard to change the world in just two days of workshops. But stories were written on more than just paper as people shared email addresses and social media contacts. New narratives were written and the groundwork laid for many sequels to come–relationships that would give rise to new plotlines bridging continents, new character arcs in the endeavor to conserve the rainforest and support its inhabitants.

The Story of the Visitor

A collaborative story written during a creative writing workshop between the Forest Online and Wild Forest and Fauna’s Future Leaders program. Written by Vanessa, Sami, Ian, and Lua.

Rose sat in the boat, feeling the waves of the Las Piedras river roll off of the side of her boat, causing it to sway gently on the water. She tilted her head back, smelling the fresh breeze. Rose had never been to the jungle before, and the fresh oxygen that filled her lungs was intoxicating.

The ground was earthy and muddy, her boots slipped back slightly with every step that she climbed. Rose’s eyes took in the sights and her fingers absorbed each texture that they encountered. She had read a little bit about the rainforest before coming, and she practiced identifying the trees as trudged thought the mud. A walking palm, which could move two to three meters over the course of hundreds of years, on her right. A sheep frog “baa’d” on her left, expanding its navy belly rhythmically.

Rose was curious about the rainforest, and had read about the various birds in the forest. She wanted to see macaws. She heard of a claylick nearby, and walked the claylick, striding though the green ferns and the lush grasses. She arrived, and was overwhelmed by the beauty of the birds. She sweat heavily, because she had never experienced humidity like this before—but the work was worth it to see the hundred of red birds eating the clay next to her.

Continue reading “The Story of the Visitor”

Madre Selva: The Mother Jungle

A collaborative story written during a creative writing workshop between the Forest Online and Wild Forest and Fauna’s Future Leaders program. Written by Dani, Luke, Ana, and Katerin.

En algún lugar del bosque tropical amazónico de Perú, Kadal caminaba por la trocha contemplando los árboles. Ella estaba perdida sin salida.

Kadal construye en refugio al pie de un árbol de ceiba para protegerse de los rayos, truenos en lo pro fundo del bosque; finalmente logro construir su refugio cortando bambú descubrió que dentro de él había agua limpio y claro. Entonces calmo su sed, pero moria de hambre vio a su almededr Frutos coudos y maduras, algunos ro edores como el sajino y picero comían agua je y chapaja.

Entonces se siento segura y los probo gustándole el sabor, ají mismo vio hongos comestibles llamados cayampa, cambiándolo em Monmigas y Termitas que encontró al pie de un árbol sedo.

Continue reading “Madre Selva: The Mother Jungle”

Hugo and the Shihuahuaco

A collaborative story written during a creative writing workshop between the Forest Online and Wild Forest and Fauna’s Future Leaders program. Written by Casey, Jose, Blake, and Pavel. 

Many years ago (in 1990), Hugo was born in the native community of Tipischa. He spent his childhood in the jungle on the banks of the Las Piedras, amongst the trees and the birds. He sought adventure in the forest, climbing and playing in the trees. Hugo loved all of the trees of the forest, but his favorite of all was the giant Shihuahuaco, or ironwood, that stood by the creek.  

Time passed, and there was no school for Hugo to attend in Tipischa, so his family moved to Puerto Maldonado, a small city of laborers and loggers a few hours away from their community. More than anything, Hugo knew that he would miss his tree, and he carved his name and the year, 1997, into its bark so that it would always remember him.

As he began his education in Puerto at the Carlos Fermin Fitzcarrald school, little by little he lost his connection to both his native culture and the land, and his priorities began to mirror those of his peers. Consumerism became the center of his life: he spent his time in front of the TV, or partying with friends. He became accustomed to “easy living” in a society very different from the community in which he was born. In Puerto, money was king. As a result of this new lifestyle, Hugo forgot the beauty of his childhood and his true home…
Continue reading “Hugo and the Shihuahuaco”