19. Ecuador Adventures and Frogs – Casa Divina Part I

A Casa Divina cabin in the forest

Thursday evening, June 15th, Divine Cloud Forest

Around 4:30 pm, we arrived at Casa Divina. It seemed that each place we stayed got better and better. Our stay was for 3 nights, and I could have stayed for 3 weeks, happily.

A Cabin for Crystal, Stephanie, Katie and me.

A Really Good Omen. Welcoming frog on the window, sighted from the supper table.

All of our boots were sterilized with a small amount of chlorine greatly diluted with water for our evening frogging walk. Melvin continued to sport his fancy white rubber boots, and I acquired some red ones. All the others were black. SAVE THE FROGS! had purchased some boots at the beginning of the trip, and were kind enough to leave them behind at Casa Divina when we left 3 days later.

Best Frogging to Date.


Other sights lit up by our headsets included yellow fungus, green bamboo, and yellow orchids.  

Friday morning, June 16th, A Love Story

While I happily slept in, some of the crazier members of our group got up for 6 am bird watching from the open second floor and around the reserve.  After breakfast, we met up in the lovely airy space upstairs the others had started from.  Efrain and Molly told the story of their love and partnership.

Molly was 21 years old when she came to Ecuador as an exchange student. Here she met Efrain, and was impressed with his passion for preserving the environment and organizing the people.  

After several years of being good friends, they had the opportunity for a long discussion on a bus ride to another part of the country. By the end of the trip they had decided they ought to marry.  

Within two weeks they did just that, and now have two lovely daughters, as well as their beautiful home that they built and share with guests. We were so fortunate that they did!

Efrain is an owner naturalist who actually went out with us for our walking adventures.

Frogs Are Bioindicators. What Happens to Frogs Happens to All.

Michael followed Molly and Efrain with some Frog Facts. He pointed out that children often don’t know the word bioindicator, or the concept of a “canary in a coal mine”, but they do understand the idea of a thermometer. As the world, and harmful practices literally and figuratively heat up, the frog population diminishes.

  • Chytrid fungus is the disease responsible for decimating amphibian species worldwide.  
  • The fungus affects the ability of an infected frog to breathe by attacking and thickening the skin.
  • The fungus also attacks tadpole mouthparts so they are unable to eat.
  • Frogs are like little sponges that suck up toxins.
  • The pet trade hurts frog populations by taking frogs directly.
  • Eating frogs is a bad and harmful habit.
    • In Florida, in one festival day the participants eat a million frogs.
    • Indonesia is the biggest importer and consumer of frogs legs.
    • France is next, then the United States.
  • There are no regulations for frog farming.
  • Many imported frogs are infected and let go, contaminating and/or eating native frogs
    • Coqui frogs are valuable in Puerto Rico, but invasive in Hawaii
    • Bullfrogs are invasive in 22 countries
    • Cuban frogs are invasive frogs in Florida
  • In California, 1/3 of all wetlands necessary for frog life are dry because of climate change.
  • Life for a frog is dangerous in all its stages.  Putting their feats into perspective:
    • The first thing a tadpole hatching from an egg does is take a sky dive of 40 ft
    • Poison dart frogs tadpoles flop onto their parents back, one at a time.  The parent carries it up the equivalent of the Empire State Building to find the perfect bromeliads, and go back until they have carried every tadpole to their new home. 

Brave little creatures!  Why are we so mean?