Thursday, March 18, 2010

Welcome to the Jungle: Day Two

I woke up at 5am and had coffee while watching the sunrise over the lagoon. It is so incredibly peaceful, just watching flocks of birds swoop over the water and the odd indigenous jungle resident silently sailing by on a dugout canoe. 
I had breakfast (toast, yogurt and fruit) and then a very serene canoe ride down the river to a clay bank where dozens of parrots gather to eat the clay, which helps them digest certain fruits.  We then went for a walk through the jungle and encountered a cocoa tree. I ate quite a bit of the fruit - basically, you suck this sweet white goo off of the bitter seeds. It was good.
We then went to the home of an indigenous family. They lived in this two room hut on stilts. The littlest girl (about 4 maybe) had a pet baby monkey - only 1 month old - the monkey sat on her head. She let me hold it and it clung to my chest. So adorable.

We walked a bit more and then learned how to shoot a blow gun. Our indigenous guide put a papaya on a stick and that was our target. I didn´t hit it, but i came close.
As our stroll continued, we encountered a large troupe of squirrel monkeys playing in the trees. They leapt from branch to branch and then they sat and watched us watching them.   On this walk we learned about the various medicinal plants in the jungle. Plants that aid in healing a variety of ailments. We samples many of them. One tree has thick red sap, called Dragon´s Blood. It is good for a number of things, including helping to soothe itchy mosquito bites, which i was relieved to discover. We also ate the bark from one tree which is bitter with quinine, which i hopefully will not need, as i have been taking my malaria pills daily.
Now, i should say that on every trip i have at least one great fall, usually i step off a side walk and fall into the street. My great Ecuadorian fall happened this day. We were boarding our canoe, which involved walking along the length of another dugout canoe. I was first, so i had to walk right down to the end of the canoe. I was almost there when i lost my balance and fell, partly into the Amazon river. I was fine, sadly, my camera was not. The memory card survived (thank god) but the camera has not. Thankfully a kind girl at the lodge let me use her extra camera (which was compatible with my memory stick) for the rest of my adventures in Amazonia.
After a delicious lunch of avocado, beans, soup and fruit, i lay outside, overlooking the water and read and enjoyed a cigar.
Later that night, after dinner, we went on a late canoe ride. It was completely black and I could see an amazing array of stars and constellations. We saw caymans looking at us with their red eyes and saw bats fishing. Very cool.
That evening, as on every evening, we sat around in the common area and chatted. Most of the people there were quite delightful and the staff was excellent, including Pepe, the bartender, who made me some fruity cocktail. (I figured i should have at least one.)
It was this day that as i finished my shower i noticed the large gecko on the ceiling of my bathroom.
That night i slept fine. Earplugs make a huge difference. A number of women at the lodge though admitted that they took Zanax (i don´t know if that is how it is spelled) every night before bed. I was happy with ear plugs.
I will write about day three and catch up to the present day tomorrow morning.
Adios, amigos.

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