IT took a 6,000 mile journey to Peru for Lyme Regis student Georgie Mostyn to get acquainted with West Dorset ‘neighbour’ Pam Middlemast.
Naturally chatty Pam, who runs a Bridport bed and breakfast, found herself sharing a room with 18-year-old Georgie and asking the usual ‘where are you from?’ questions.
She didn’t expect to hear the young student lived in Lyme Regis.
A veteran traveller, 55-year-old Pam and young Georgie were both in Cusco volunteering with the CREES Foundation to do conservation work in the Amazon rainforest.
Pam said: “I have done conservation work in the Seychelles, climbed Kilimanjaro, gone to Everest base camp but this was the first thing Georgie has done, being a young girl finishing school. She really enjoyed it.”
For Pam the work satisfies both her itchy feet and scientific curiosity.
She said: “I am a scientist, and my background is biology “I am too old now to go and work in London and being a scientist is not really compatible with living in Dorset.
“I can satisfy my curiousity and that side of my nature by doing conservation things every now and then.
“I love the new experiences and doing something that maybe wasn’t available when I was Georgie’s age.
“Every couple of years I normally get itchy feet and head off to do something.”
The volunteers made the two-day journey up the Madre de Dios river to their temporary home at the Manu Learning Centre.
There they encountered every thing from squirrel monkeys to poison dart frogs and aquatic coral snakes.
Georgie and Pam were working with the CREES foundation which was set up by Quinn Mayer in 2001 and manages 1500 acres of rainforest.
Pam said: “Their aim is to create a realistic long-term model for protecting the bio-diversity of the rainforest that fully involves the people who live there.”
The foundation works with local villages to establish new methods of agriculture which will replace the traditional ‘slash and burn’ methods, said Pam.
She added: “In 2004 it was estimated that, in Brazil alone, 500,000 small farmers were each clearing an average of one hectare of forest per year.
“This technique is not sustainable beyond a certain population density because, without the trees, the soil quality soon becomes too poor to support crops.”
The volunteers were collecting data on the wildlife in the jungle – during the rainy season.
Pam said: “We had to go out in the mud and the rain, it was actually physically tough work.
Pam moved to Dorset when husband Paul got a job here 24 years ago and has run a pub, bed and breakfast and has just qualified as a dog groomer.
Pam is happy to talk to people about the foundation and its work and she can be contacted on 07796 302539.