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The last few days, i was in the oriente with Dayin and Teresa, one of the volunteers. The Oriente is the Amazon part of Ecuador and we stayed in an area called Cuyabeno, 80 km from the Columbian border. We got there on Saturday the 5th late at night, and our guides werent there to meet us as a result of miscommunication. The lodge is so secluded the guides didnt get a message about our bus time change.When we were out of the bus, we saw the canoe that was supposed to meet up wasnt there, so we looked for a person to ask for directions and an old man came up to us claiming he was sent by the guides. We followed him to his shack, where he needed to get some boots on (since we would be walking in the jungle to get to the lodge). Next thing we knew, he grabbed a machete and said he needed in case we encountered any snakes. We started following him in the dark through the amazonian jungle. It was muddy, and we kept slipping with our big bags. The whole time, daylin and i were unsure of how trustworthy this guys was, but there seemed to be no other option and teresa kept talking to him to distract him. We were relieved once we got to the lodge, but we were to find out it was a standard thing to carry machetes when in the jungle.

Aug. 6-One the first day, we went on a long nature walk with out guide, Mariana. We heard about the different medicinal uses of each plant and at one point even got to swing from a vine! One the walk i spotted a snake crossing our path, and, when we checked in the book later, it was actually a highly poisenous snake. When we got back, we went for a swim at river upon which the lodge is built. Later than night, we went with Kleber, one of the boatmen to hunt for cayman. We were all on a canoe late at night, torches in hand looking at the banks for two red eyes floating on the water surface. The first cayman we saw was a baby one, and Kleber reached into the water and grabbed him. The baby cayman started calling his mother. Kleber showed each one of us the cayman and when i touched it, i touched it too close to its mouth and the next moment it turned around and bit my finger. I just have a few little scratches when the teeth bit me, but when i later saw the size of some of the other cayman, i was glad i was only bitten by a baby. When we got back to the lodge, the other tour group was back and Romulo, the other guide had an adolescent cayman in hand, and althought i was scared to get bitten again, i got to hold it.

Aug. 7-The next day was to be our longest. We started out with a visit to a Siona village a couple of hours from the lodge. On our way to the village we saw a pink dolphin, but Marian was the only one that was able to spot him and before we had a good look at it, it disapeared. We went into a yucaa planation in the village with one of the local women and saw how the yucca root was used to make bread. Then, we made out way up to a laguna and hour away from the village, where anacondas are known to frequent the banks aswell as pink dolphins. Unfortunatly, we didnt get to see any dolphins or anacondas, but Daylin and i were the only ones brave enough to jump into the laguna which was beautiful at sunset and although we got scared a few times when we swam far from the canoe, it was well worth it. On our way back, we saw an owl following the canoe as it got dark, and throughout the day we saw anything from monkeys, to beautiful amazon butterflies, dolphins and exceptional birds.

Aug. 8- We had a very relaxed day and only went piranha fishing in the morning. What was so nice about that day was that i sat with Mariana our guide in the front of a canoe, which gave me an oppounity to talk to her and get to know what it was like to grow up in the Napo province and be the only woman guide in the area. I caught my first piranha that day, and i really wanted to take it back to have it for lunch, but one of the guides decided it was too small to eat. I didnt agree since the other tour group brought back piranhas that size for dinner the night before. We went on a nightwalk that evening and saw mostly spiders and other insects that were hard to spot during the day.

Aug. 9- On our last day, we decided to take things easy and Romolo offers me Teresa and Daylin to go paddling with Kleber up the river. It was different paddling up the river with so few people, since we normally used a motored canoe. The jungle was so quiet and we were able to take our time and look around and take in the beauty of it before we left. The best part of that morning was when we stopped under a tree and Kleber told us to yell March! on the count of three. We thought he was joking around, but when we did a sound came from a wasp nest above us that sounded like an army marching! The loud noise made them flap their wings. When we returned to the camp, Romolo was back from leading his tour group and took up on our last canoe ride to the bus stop where we were to catch a bus to Tena.

08/10/06- El oriente Cuyabeno

posted 10 August 2006


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