New Years Eve

The twelve of us walked along the coast of the Pacific Ocean, avoiding horse manure and looking for a cactus called Quisco de los Acantilados or “Cliff Kiosk.” The sun was setting, spilling shades of orange and yellow across the sky. We reached an inlet with a large rocky beach, the waves are crashing loudly and my mind flashed back to my wipe out during surfing that morning. The slope of this cliff is covered in cactus, thistle, and grasses radiating orange against the setting sun. Everything in my view is orange, the plants, the rocks, our faces from sunburns. The group moved quickly to reach a peak and watch the sun completely disappear below the horizon. I sat quietly, happy and content as I watched the sun set for the last time in 2016 halfway across the world in Pichilemu, Chile.

Punta de Lobos, or Wolves Point, is known for being the surf capital of South America, but what most people don’t know is that it is one of the largest population of this endangered cactus. The cactus known scientifically as, Echinopsis bolligeriana and commonly in Spanish as Quisco de los Acantilados is on the red list for endangered species. The main threat to this cactus is loss of habitat from tourism and urbanization from the large crowds coming to Pichilemu to surf the great waves. The ambassador of Superfun, Emilio Garcia de la Heurta Sutil, is associated with a cactus scientist, who asked our team to collect seeds so that he can propagate the seeds. Our team set out on New Years Eve to collect seeds of the Quisco de los Acantilados in hopes that our work will help protect these beautiful and fragile plants.

Screen Shot 2017-02-28 at 11.39.41 AM.png Click this link for a video of our walk! 

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Our Team Leaders

screen-shot-2017-02-28-at-11-51-43-amOur team leaders are kind, funny, intellgient men who find common ground in their love of nature despite coming from opposite sides of the earth. Dr. Kurt Heidenger (pictured right), is a philosopher and director of Biocitizen, who lives in Westhampton, Massachusetts. In 2009, Kurt created the school of Biocitizen with the goal of educating people of all ages about field environmental philosophy. Emilio Garcia de la Heurta Sutil (pictured left) and his partner Valentina Carvallo Pirola, from Pichilemu, Chile, run an ecotourism company called Superfun Chile.  Since 2004, this dynamic duo has been taking people into the outdoors for surfing, mountaineering, rock climbing and so much more. While they do extreme sports they are also promoting a sense of respect and love for nature.

These two organizations planned out the “Now Voyager” itinerary in the spring of 2016 and our team put this itinerary to the test this past winter. The itinerary was tight and packed full of activities from surfing, to writing, to volunteering. Our days flew by. Kurt kept saying, “How many days have we lived today?” implying that we were moving so quickly and living multiple days in only a 24 hour time block. The only thing that was consistent was our daily reading of Pablo Neruda poems which was a moment for us to sit, listen and think. It is hard for me to explain what we did each day because it is too much for this post. However, I want to give my readers a taste of what is going to come from this blog.

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