Sunday, January 10, 2016

Ecuador, Part 2: The Amazon

I'll be the first to admit that the prospect of heading into the rainforest was anxiety-inducing.  It's rumored that I even made mention of being the only white people in all of Quito's airport heading to the Amazon on the day we departed. Everyone else, I (supposedly) said, was going to the Galapagos.

You see, I worried immensely about what I'd eat, what we'd do, and what would happen when I was swarmed by malaria-carrying mosquitoes.  I mean think about it: What if everything was onion-laden?  What if we didn't see a single animal?  What if I got bites all over, itched like a fiend, and then contracted that damn yellow fever or malaria?  I was right to panic...

Actually, I was wrong, very wrong.  The Amazon was an amazing experience, one of my favorites ever.  Despite being dressed like Jane Goodall for four days straight, and despite having humidity hair that was so large it made small children cower in fear, I had a blast.

Our trip to the Sacha Lodge, which was home while we were in the Amazon, required a flight to the small town of Coca, a bus ride to the Sacha Lodge headquarters, a two hour motorized canoe ride, a 25 minute hike, and a 15 minute canoe ride across a black water lake.  It was work to get there but so peaceful and wonderful once we did.

While there, we bird watched (who knew that could be so cool?), we hiked, we checked out butterflies at the mariposario, we took a canopy and night walk, we canoed around the lake looking for otters and caiman, we napped and read in our hammock, and we visited a local women's village run by the native Kichwa.

Each day, we woke up early and were on our way to our first activity as the sun was rising.  We were partnered up with a great family from Idaho and had amazing guides, Daniel and Sergio.  Brian and I still find ourselves using some of Daniel's best catch-phrases, and I find myself thinking about how great sweet, sweet Sergio was.  As he did not speak English, either Daniel would translate or Brian and I would attempt to put our Spanish knowledge to good use.  Life in the rainforest was simple, peaceful, and fun.  I felt absolutely at ease and realized, almost immediately, that my trepidations were entirely unfounded -- even those involving malaria.

Though I don't know that I have ever dealt with humidity quite like that before -- everything felt wet all of the time and, as mentioned, my hair was in rare form -- I was definitely sad to leave Sacha Lodge.  It was gorgeous and it was a great experience; after all, it's hard to beat hanging out with monkeys for four days.
rainforest-bound (and hot already!)

Sacha Lodge - the restaurant 

bird watching - though the lens of the telescope
howler monkey 
our traditional meal cooking in the open kitchen

a school room at the local village

looking out at the bar (lt.) and the lake
our porch - we loved that hammock  
our canopy walk 
spider money momma and baby (photo:BR)
Sergio positioning our canoe for our journey back to Coca

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