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Professional surfer, 17, recalls growing up in the Ecuadorian cloud forest

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Professional surfer, 17, recalls growing up in the Ecuadorian cloud forest

Pacha Light is a professional surfer who has all the makings for a sterling career in the industry.

But before she was surfing the famed Snapper Rocks break on the Gold Coast, the 17-year-old grew up in an entirely different environment: the cloud forest in Ecuador.  

‘My mother is an environmental activist and travelled to Ecuador to work on projects to protect the forests back in the late 1990s,’ Pacha told FEMAIL.

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Pacha Light is a professional surfer with all the makings for a sterling career in the industry

Pacha Light is a professional surfer with all the makings for a sterling career in the industry

Pacha Light is a professional surfer with all the makings for a sterling career in the industry

Pacha was born in the Andean village of Cotacachi at home and lived for two years between the forest and the village until her younger brother Yani (right with Pacha) was born

Pacha was born in the Andean village of Cotacachi at home and lived for two years between the forest and the village until her younger brother Yani (right with Pacha) was born

Pacha was born in the Andean village of Cotacachi at home and lived for two years between the forest and the village until her younger brother Yani (right with Pacha) was born

Pacha was born in the Andean village of Cotacachi at home and lived for two years between the forest and the village until her younger brother Yani (right with Pacha) was born

Pacha was born in the Andean village of Cotacachi at home and lived for two years between the forest and the village until her younger brother Yani (right with Pacha) was born

‘Mum fell in love with the country and the people (including my father!) and worked with communities in the cloud forests, eventually raising funds to buy land in the threatened areas to protect the forests.’

Pacha was born in the Andean village of Cotacachi at home and lived for two years between the forest and the village until her younger brother Yani was born. 

‘My mum carted me back and forth on rickety buses and on the top of building supplies on horseback in the winding narrow paths of incredible forest scenery,’ she explained of that time.

'My Mum carted me back and forth on rickety buses and on the top of building supplies on horseback in the winding narrow paths of incredible forest scenery,' she explained of that time

'My Mum carted me back and forth on rickety buses and on the top of building supplies on horseback in the winding narrow paths of incredible forest scenery,' she explained of that time

‘My Mum carted me back and forth on rickety buses and on the top of building supplies on horseback in the winding narrow paths of incredible forest scenery,’ she explained of that time

Everything was simpler for Pacha and her family living in the cloud forest (pictured), where you'd be listening to the 'roar of the river instead of roads and highways'

Everything was simpler for Pacha and her family living in the cloud forest (pictured), where you'd be listening to the 'roar of the river instead of roads and highways'

Everything was simpler for Pacha and her family living in the cloud forest (pictured), where you’d be listening to the ‘roar of the river instead of roads and highways’

What is the Ecuadorian cloud forest region?

Although relatively small in size, not much bigger than the size of Victoria, the Ecuador Cloud Forests are considered the single richest hotspot on the planet, containing approximately 15-17 per cent of the world’s plant species and nearly 20 per cent of its bird diversity. 

The dry and moist forests of western Ecuador are some of the most threatened ecosystems in the world.  

It is known as a ‘cloud forest’ because the region is tropical and features low-lying cloud throughout the year, making it prone to rain.

‘It was an hours walk from the dirt road to our cloud forest camp where she set up a permaculture site with help from locals and international volunteers. 

‘We moved back to Australia to be closer to her family and in between raising us and doing local campaigns, she kept supporting the projects in Ecuador from a distance. 

‘We go back every few years to reconnect, including a six month period living in the cloud forest when I was eight in the stone house she had built with volunteers that had no electricity and no glass in the windows so the hummingbirds could flit around inside during the day.

‘I only have amazing memories from that time and it shaped me into who I am today.’

She remembers a time where her mother read stories under her head torch, because there was no electricity, and swarms of insects surrounded them

She remembers a time where her mother read stories under her head torch, because there was no electricity, and swarms of insects surrounded them

She remembers a time where her mother read stories under her head torch, because there was no electricity, and swarms of insects surrounded them

'We ate beans and rice and home grown organic veggie every day and would be so happy when we could eat a sweet once we visited town... life was simple but we loved it,' she said

'We ate beans and rice and home grown organic veggie every day and would be so happy when we could eat a sweet once we visited town... life was simple but we loved it,' she said

‘We ate beans and rice and home grown organic veggie every day and would be so happy when we could eat a sweet once we visited town… life was simple but we loved it,’ she said

Everything was simpler for Pacha and her family living in the cloud forest, where you’d be listening to the ‘roar of the river instead of roads and highways’. 

‘We grew a lot of our own food – even coffee. We would play in nature everyday – exploring the forest, climbing trees, swimming in the river, helping in the veggie garden or picking coffee, collecting firewood, playing with the horses and singing from the top of our lungs,’ she said.

‘We ate beans and rice and home grown organic veggie every day and would be so happy when we could eat a sweet once we visited town… life was simple but we loved it. 

‘We didn’t have a basic mirror and wouldn’t worry about what we looked like, unless we went to visit the town.’

'We didn't have a basic mirror and wouldn't worry about what we looked like, unless we went to visit the town,' she said

'We didn't have a basic mirror and wouldn't worry about what we looked like, unless we went to visit the town,' she said

‘We didn’t have a basic mirror and wouldn’t worry about what we looked like, unless we went to visit the town,’ she said

On the Gold Coast, where her family is based today, everything is far more convenient

On the Gold Coast, where her family is based today, everything is far more convenient

On the Gold Coast, where her family is based today, everything is far more convenient

On the Gold Coast, where her family is based today, everything is far more convenient

On the Gold Coast, where her family is based today, everything is far more convenient

She remembers a time where her mother read stories under her head torch, because there was no electricity, and swarms of insects surrounded them.  

‘We were also always muddy – cloud forest means lots of rain – and she made a big fuss about washing our feet in a bucket before bed time,’ she explained.

‘We would all help wash the muddy clothes with the river water, hanging them under a greenhouse to dry (it rains there every afternoon). It was hard work – but more for Mum than for us.’

On the Gold Coast, where her family is based today, everything is far more convenient.  

‘Instead of an hours walk on a steep, narrow, winding mountain track, we have a driveway that comes to our door,’ she said of the difference.

Pacha, who is extremely passionate about water conservation and protecting the environment, admits she was inspired by her mother's work

Pacha, who is extremely passionate about water conservation and protecting the environment, admits she was inspired by her mother's work

Pacha, who is extremely passionate about water conservation and protecting the environment, admits she was inspired by her mother’s work

'I've seen and lived in such amazing, beautiful places - and I've witnessed what's happening to them,' she said

'I've seen and lived in such amazing, beautiful places - and I've witnessed what's happening to them,' she said

‘I’ve seen and lived in such amazing, beautiful places – and I’ve witnessed what’s happening to them,’ she said

‘Electricity, washing machines, shopping centres, wifi, phone reception, our (big) school just a few minutes bike ride away… But we still have trees around us and on a big swell, we can hear the ocean over the highway.

‘So we find ourselves still waking up at dawn to ‘play’ in nature – just on surfboards, not in the river.’ 

Pacha, who is extremely passionate about water conservation and protecting the environment, admits she was inspired by her mother’s work. 

‘I’ve seen and lived in such amazing, beautiful places – and I’ve witnessed what’s happening to them,’ she said.

This year the ambitious 17-year-old has competed in the World Qualifying Series of surfing, which has taken her from the Caribbean to South Africa

This year the ambitious 17-year-old has competed in the World Qualifying Series of surfing, which has taken her from the Caribbean to South Africa

This year the ambitious 17-year-old has competed in the World Qualifying Series of surfing, which has taken her from the Caribbean to South Africa

Her hope is to end up on the world tour with the likes of Tyler Wright, Stephanie Gilmore and Sally Fitzgibbons

Her hope is to end up on the world tour with the likes of Tyler Wright, Stephanie Gilmore and Sally Fitzgibbons

Her hope is to end up on the world tour with the likes of Tyler Wright, Stephanie Gilmore and Sally Fitzgibbons

'I've been travelling on my own which is a little unusual at my age, but I think all that wild adventure travel in my childhood helps with that,' she said

'I've been travelling on my own which is a little unusual at my age, but I think all that wild adventure travel in my childhood helps with that,' she said

‘I’ve been travelling on my own which is a little unusual at my age, but I think all that wild adventure travel in my childhood helps with that,’ she said

‘Living in the cloud forest made me realise there I’m not separate to the nature around me, so it makes perfect sense to protect something you are part of.’

This year the ambitious 17-year-old has competed in the World Qualifying Series of surfing, which has taken her from the Caribbean to South Africa.

Her hope is to end up on the world tour with the likes of Tyler Wright, Stephanie Gilmore and Sally Fitzgibbons.  

‘I’ve been travelling on my own which is a little unusual at my age, but I think all that wild adventure travel in my childhood helps with that,’ she said.

‘When I do get home for a week or so at a time, I’m straight into training and planning for the next surf trip. It’s been a bit hectic this year.’

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-6022307/Professional-surfer-17-recalls-growing-Ecuadorian-cloud-forest.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ito=1490&ns_campaign=1490 Source: MailOnline | Copyright © MailOnline, All Rights Reserved

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