Today I am going to continue the story of my adventures in Ecuador. To read Part 1 click here.
We arrived in the Amazon at night when it was already very dark. I wasn't able to get a good look at our cabin (pictured) until the morning. At night we could hear monkeys and bats making noise outside, it was unreal. These cabins only had screens for windows (because it was soooo hot) so we felt very close to all the nature.
Here I am standing on the lodge patio with the Napo river behind me. There hadn't been any rain in a while so the river was lower than normal. Usually, the shole island behind me is covered with water, but the locals were taking advantage of the situation, and boating to the island to fish.
Can you see it? We went on a four hour hike in the Amazon, and in the first two minutes of our walk our knowledgeable guide Robert spotted the most dangerous snake in the Amazon along the path. Above, curled into a ball is the Fur de Lance snake, which is very poisonous. If you are having trouble spotting it, look just under the log laying on the ground, it is beside the greenish looking twig.
Here we are, traipsing through the jungle!
Everything is bigger in the Amazon (sorry Texas!) these leaves were enormous!
Here are four grown women standing infront of a Kpok tree, this is the biggest tree in the Amazon and is very special to indigenous culture.
Here is the Kpok tree looking up from the ground. The tree is said to be the God of the Amazon, and is an integral place where the God of the sky (Eagle), God of the Jungle (Jaguar), and God of the water (Anaconda) gather at different times in their lives.
When we finally made it back out of the jungle, we had a traditional lunch served on a leaf. The green spinachy looking stuff on the left is cooked nettle leaves, moving to the right there is a salad of carrots and heart of palm, breaded yucca, and tilapia that was cooked on the fire inside a plantain leaf.
After lunch we walked to the nearby village of Mondaña to see the clinic, school, and homes. This picture shows the primary room of the school. There are bars on the windows because it is too hot and humid for glass pane. The bars are to keep animals and people out. Here are some more pictures of the school grounds.
The school had been given funding for a computer lab, and have about 8-10 computers. However, only two of the computers are functional because they become too overheated due to the climate. Robert was telling us that it's been really cool for the kids being able to connect to the internet. This school is quite interesting because of the way students travel to school. Some students will walk through the jungle from nearby villages, but some students are picked up by 'School Boat' form across and down the river to attend the school. Robert was telling us that BBC actually visited the community and filmed them as part of a documentary about how children travel to school in different parts of the world (I need to look it up!)
Playing cards on the patio.
One evening we went through the process of making chocolate, yum! We took cacao beans that had been left out to dry and turn brown, then cooked them over the fire until they began to pop like popcorn. We then shelled the beans, and ground them into a paste. Then we put the paste through the grinder again with sugar to sweeten it. It was so tasty.
Sunset on the Napo River.
Here are some shots of the beautiful flowers I saw during my stay.
One evening we had a cooking class where we learned how to cook chicken in a leaf on the fire, and we also had the opportunity to sample grubs. Here they are still alive.
Some people tried them alive, it was tricky because they have pincers.
Here Robert is putting some grubs on skewers to cook over the fire. I tried one of the cooked ones, it tasted like bacon.
The next day, we took a journey to go visit the local Shaman. On our way we came across some Cacao fruits.
Here is the inside. The cacao beans are inside of the white gooey pouches. Robert gave one to each of us to suck on because the white pulp is quite sweet. We then had a spitting contest to see who could spit their bean the farthest.
At the Shamans home we participated in a cleansing ritual, where the Shaman blows pure tobacco (that he grew and rolled himself) over you and moves the bundle of leaves in a specific pattern over your body to absorb your negative energy. We were told that after the ceremony, the Shaman would take the leaves and hang them from a tree until the leaves dried out, he would then bury the leaves so that the negative energy can't escape.
Outside the Shamans house we were able to try out using a blow dart gun. It is quite heavy and can be difficult to aim.
This is Yolanda the parrot! She would frequently visit the lodge to get some bread and butter. She spoke some Spanish.
One evening, we took a night walk in the jungle. We saw a number of frogs, and a few snakes and spiders.
This is the opening of a trap door spiders trap door. When Robert opened it, the spider quickly retreated inside.
Robert was trying to coax out a giant spider, it wasn't home.
Snail eating snake.
Aren't I brave? Robert assured us that this spider wouldn't bite.
The next morning, Yolanda decided that our pancakes looked more appetizing than her bread.
Our last night in the Amazon, the local youth came and performed a traditional Quichua dance for us. It was their very first performance, and they did a splendid job.
Misty morning, after a night of heavy rain.
Last breakfast in the Amazon.
These banana boats were tied up right next to where our boat came in. I'm pretty sure I was called a 'Gringo' for stopping to take this picture. We were finally back to where we had left our bus for almost a week. We were soon to begin our 7 hour bus ride to the beautiful Riobamba.
I hope you enjoyed hearing about my jungle adventures. Next week I will share my experiences teaching in Riobamba.
I look forward to reading about your journeys!