The most anticipated jungle edition is hot of the press! Two weekends ago, my procrastination still applies to this blog, Emily, Amanda, and I went to Yacuma Ecolodge, in the province of Napo. It’s in the Oriente the jungle, or should I say the freaking Amazon Jungle, is dissected by its many rivers and branches of rivers. It looks just how anyone would expect the Amazon Jungle to look like.
We left early Friday morning, early meaning 5 am, and set off on our journey. We picked up another couple from Spain who would be joining us for the weekend and headed to the bus station in South Quito. We hopped on a bus, hoping and praying that it wouldn’t be full, so that we could use up two seats instead of one for this 5½-hour ride across the mountains. I slept on an off, but was able to see a lot of cool things along the way; waterfalls, puppies, baby llamas, mountain towns, cows perched on sides of mountains, etc.
We made it to Tena, a bigger city further east, and met with a staff member from the lodge. We ate lunch and ice cream, and then hopped on another bus. This time the bus situation was a little different. School kids flooded the bus to stand in the aisle after everyone had their seats. It was literally a can of sardines. The aisle spill over just leans on all the seated people. Not too comfortable if you ask me. I’m also going to say that it was probably 85% humidity and 80 degrees. The bus was a sweatbox.
After this LONG, ride of 3½ hours, I accentuate long because we all ran out of water and the dust from the dirt roads was just flowing in the windows furthermore drying out our throats and lungs, we got off the bus and hopped into a motorized canoe! How cool! The river water was really low, due to the long dry season this year, so at a few parts some of the guys got out to push and pull the boat over the bottom of the river.
We had finally made it… almost 12 hours later! Yikes! We were greeted by two coatis and some iced tea that the indigenous people from the Amazon drink. The indigenous wake up around 3 or 4 am to drink this tea. It helps them think about their life and goals for the day. It’s basically a day starter, for all you coffee people out there.
After that we got settled into our cabina, and were slowly imprinted on a baby orphan monkey. His name was NeNe and he was incredibly cute, minus the monkey poo that he got all over us the first day. Emily did not like the monkey baby at all.
The next day we started off with a 3-hour hike through the jungle, with boots and all, to look at plants and their uses. We had a little indigenous man as our guide, while we tromped through mud, rivers and little trails. I took way too many photos the jungle and plants. We saw lots of mushrooms, butterflies, flowers, fruits, and trees I had never seen before. We heard lots of birds native to the jungle and even saw a tree with a bunch of nests hanging down from them.
We returned, ate lunch, and relaxed. Later on in the day, we went on another hike to the other side of the river. We saw the guides home and visited a shaman. It was really interesting. We also learned a lot about cacao, which is one of the biggest exports here in Ecuador. Ecuador exports the most cacao in the world. We also saw a little tiny school for 14 kids. They learn both Spanish and Quichwa, the indigenous language. The school reminded me of Honduras! We hiked back, spent some time with the monkey and enjoyed dinner. After dinner, they brought out canelazo, which is a drink native to Ecuador. I really couldn’t tell you what’s in it, but it kind of tastes like hot apple cider, with some type of alcohol.
The next day we were up and on our way! This journey was a little bit shorter, by 4 hours! Thank god! Along the way, our bus was stopped by a military checkpoint. We had to get out and show our documents and they searched our bags. Lula says its just part of the military protection against drugs and immigrants. After that hiccup, we were home! I would say that was a pretty amazing weekend. 20 hours of travel for one awesome day of jungle. I like that tradeoff!