The following day was filled with an adventure of another kind. On a map, the drive from Los Haitises to Reserva Cientifica Loma Quita Espuela appeared straight forward, yet proved otherwise. After dropping off Solanlly Carrero in Hato Mayor, the team set out on a “short cut” through tertiary dirt roads asking at least 15 locals for directions, eventually fording a river, removing a boulder from the road, and fixing a flat tire. Meanwhile, Solanlly travelled significantly further by bus, stopping through Santo Domingo on the southern coast to acquire boots and visit family, and then headed northward to San Francisco de Macorís. However, after the eventful drive, she arrived only 10 minutes after the caravan driving “directly”. An anticipated three hour drive extended beyond eight hours.
The forest of Loma Quita Espuela has made up for the difficult travel. On June 14, the group hiked up the main trail through the park, climbing over 700 vertical meters through varying degrees of ecological disturbance, with pristine primary growth near the summit, yielding an incredible diversity and possibly new species. This was the most arduous hike of the trip, and for recovery the team decided to join the locals in the community pool before sorting leaf litter and samples. At night, “the heroes” of the group conquered the hill again in search of orb-weavers and scorpions, encountering many Deinopis constructing their curious webs. Our final day at this location was spent exploring a nearby cave system once inhabited by the Taino indigenous people and sorting our backlog of specimens before moving to Puerto Plata to begin the outreach portion of the trip.