Thursday, October 16, 2008

Ecuadorian Jungle

We´ve heard alot about busses in Ecuador enough to make the decision to be wusses and not take them at night, or not go to the north by the Columbian boarder. If you are going to get hijacked, it seems a night bus in FARQ country is the best place for it. So, we decided against the more adventurous jungle trek which takes you deeper into the jungle to see more potentially deadly fauna (and quite possibly flora for all I know). To get there requires either a night bus into FARQ country, a plane ride (mucho dinero), or a night stay in some FARQ/Oil country outpost that the guide book didn´t speak to highly of. We opted for the trek which is described by the tour company as being for travelers "who seek a little more comfort in their rainforest experience". I like to think that by "a little more comfort" they mean "not getting all your crap taken from you at knife point by Columbian rebels in the middle of the night".

So that decided, we went to the main bus terminal to get our tickets for the trip. Our spanish is coming along nicely (Cecilia speaks in all transactions of any importance), and we purchased our tickets for the 7am bus, assuring ourselves a seat. Upon completion of the transaction the so far gentle Ecuadorian ticket lady glared at us, arched over the counter, wide eyed and told us sternly to watch our bags in the morning and not to get robbed. At least that was what we think she said. We´re not entirely sure if she meant just at the bus station or on the bus as well. If it was the later, it doesn´t serve as a very good marketing material for her bus company, but that´s probably why she waited until after the tickets were paid for.

Friday morning, a 6 hour bus ride from the Quito highlands, down to the jungle. I´m not sure how busses make more than about 3 of these round trips a piece because almost half the roads were unpaved and extremely bumpy. The scenery was remarkable, as around every turn there was another view of the expanse of jungle below us. We arrived in Tena, the closest town to the jungle lodge we booked and made the short trip to the lodge via taxi. All taxis are 4WD pickups due to the road conditions noted above. Conditions are so bad that one night we were there, protesters took to the roads and were throwing rocks and shaking passing cars in an effort to raise awareness to their conditions. Apparently money does flow into the region from the petro companies, but rather than use it to improve roads and schools, local officials are pocketing it. Hence the protests.

Highlights included "canyoning" which amounts to climbing up narrow cravases in the rocks. I´ve never seen Cecilia so petrified, the view from the lodge while sitting in hammocks having beers, eating fat white grubs, and the last day of climbing waterfalls. Here´s a collection of photos. Oh and we made it back without being robbed ;)

(Roads on the way to Tena...this is a bus coming the other way)

(Enjoying the hammocks, the view and a beer)

(Reading...I´m plowing through books like its my the expense of my ukulele practice)

(It´s humid in the jungle)

(Queen of the Jungle)

(Never seen my wife as scared or dirty, but she made it up the wall)

("Sexy lips" of the jungle)

(Collection of insects/spiders we encountered at the lodge)

(Mother tarantula living by the staff quarters...protecting a nest of 20 eggs. Glad we were here now and not a couple months later)

(I think once they get to a certain size you can´t call them grasshoppers anymore)

(In the house of an indigenous tribe with our guide Alex in the cammo shorts)

(How to Eat Grubs pt 1: Collect them from the forrest and put them in a giant palm leaf)

(How to Eat Grubs pt 2: Cook in fire for 10 - 15 min)

(How to Eat Grubs pt 3: Remove from fire)

(How to Eat Grubs pt 4: Try not to vomit on your hosts. Most difficult step by far)

(True story: That kid gave C a beetle which she found to be alive and promptly dropped it. He picked it up, said, "Comida" (food), and just as promptly, peeled off the legs and ate it. That´s the beetle in his hands there.)

(Short hike from the lodge)

(Fruit used as a natural paint/dye)

(Said fruit in action on our faces)

( Da da da DAAAAAAAAA da da daaaaaaaaa. Da da da DAAAAAA da da DA DAA DAAA!! (Indiana Jones theme))

(Cecilia in a waterfall)

(Brad in a waterfall)

(Water hurts dropped from that height)

(Both of us in a waterfall)


Linda said...

Did the grubs taste like chicken?
This mom is glad that you are back from your jungle trek, safely! All I can say is amazing!!!!

Love you.

Märy said...

Yeah, tell us about the grubs! You are one brave man. Did Cecilia eat anything unusual...I take it she didn't eat the bug that kid so graciously offered...