Day 2 continued on, (beyond sunrise and an amazing breakfast,) to our first day of “Talleres” or Workshops. There was a group of about 45 people, half of which had been to a previous Taller with WWF at Procosara, and half which had not. Those who had already attended were split into a separate classroom to listen to Chrisanta speak about Evapotranspiration and the cycle of agua (water.) First-timers came with Francisco and me to another room where we went through the basics of “What is Water” and why it is important in our lives. The overall message, no matter what your level of advancement, was “Protect Water”, “Don’t Contaminate”, and “Save our Forest”.
The reality of what we are teaching people is that the water cycle depends on the forest. Without the trees and the earth to properly soak up water and then, in time, evaporate it back into the air, atmosphere, and rain it down again there will soon be no clean drinking water left. What’s another key piece to this puzzle? The Guarani Aquifer, which lies below Paraguay, Uruguay, Argentina, and Brazil and is one of the largest freshwater aquifers in the world. Without the forest for proper cleansing of the water, this giant source of fresh water will soon be drowning in the contaminated currents that presently flow through the region. We are talking “chocolate” streams here. Literally undrinkable, and untouchable.
It was encouraging to listen to local community leaders and citizens, (teachers, farmers, students, etc) give their opinions and express their concerns about the fate of the forest and of our water. A recurring theme was how to get in touch with the right authorities when you witness, say, a neighbor of yours chopping down his forest. Paraguay is notorious for things not getting done, particularly legally speaking. If you tattle on your neighbor, is anything really going to happen? According to Francisco, it may be a slow process, but we have to start somewhere – and we are officially raising awareness now. WWF is also an open resource for people who are having difficulty reporting incidents, and will help fight the battle with them. I think this helped ease some of the uncertainty in the room.
Morning sessions were followed by a home cooked meal (for 50!) and an afternoon of discussion groups and presentations. I managed to duck out a little early from the sessions to take a walk with Karen, our Coca Cola rep, through the second path in the reserve, which went a little bit deeper into the forest than our morning walk. It was equally beautiful and refreshing, though unfortunately still no wildlife sightings. My goal remains to see a Jaguar…but an Armadillo, Monkey, or Tucan would suffice!