Update March 2006: boy what a difference six years can make - if you work hard to remove the exotic grasses, as did Tony and Barbara; look at the recent entry, at the bottom of this page.
Loma Linda in NW Ecuador
This is Tony and Barbara's home in the upper Tandayapa Valley
as on November 9, 1999 - a little piece of Paradise:-
Pics from March 2006:
For a small donation (to the sugar fund!) visitors can enjoy the hummingbird feeders and flowers at Linda Loma - be sure to check the white datura flowers for the scarce Wedge-billed Hummingbird drinking from a flowerpiercer hole at the base of the flowers. The garden regularly hosts Plate-billed Mountain-Toucan, Toucan Barbet, and sometimes the elusive Plushcap (here at its lowest usual evelation.) The frequent flocks of swifts zipping close by regularly include Spot-fronted Swift. This may be the best location for seeing this rarely-seen swift, and Tony has sorted-out the call from the abundant Chestnut-collared Swift, so if he's there, he may be able to alert you to their presence overhead (we saw two on this visit, and I had seen them there six years previously).
Tony and Barbara live a totally admirable environmentally-responsible life: they don't own a vehicle; they have chosen to wait on electricity until it can be provided efficiently by solar panels; they grow most of their fruit and vegetables; they have bought some previously-cleared land on the far side of the valley and are embarked on a project to remove the exotic grasses and re-forest it; they employ local labor from the nearby villages whenever they scrape up enough funds to work on their land. Tony guides for VENT for a few weeks of the year - otherwise he is normally at home, working on restoring the natural magnificence of the Valley. Barbara is usually around, working on the garden, and she is a talented artist - I couldn't resist buying some of her watercolor hummingbird postcards! I can't think of any other place I'd rather make a donation to. NOTE: it's almost impossible to find the discrete trail down from the road to their place, unless you know where it is - ask one of the locals to help you find it (it's c. 1.8km downhill from the entrance to Bellavista, on the left just past a sharp right curve in the road that has power-lines going over it, next to a giant Agave.) When you get to their gate, pull the chain to ring the bell; if someone is at home, they'll call up to invite you in!
... just two of the many orchids found in the garden; the one above is large and showy - but only for one day; the one below flowers for longer - but each flower is smaller than a pea: