Published: April 9th 2007April 9th 2007
I try not to think about how dirty the monkeys actually are but how cute they are!
One of the reasons for us visiting ecuador was to visit the Amazon. After trying unsuccesfully to book a tour we headed to a small town called Misahualli in the hope of finally getting a tour.
The small town of Misahualli is also famous for a group of monkeys that live in the town square. Many people have told us that the monkeys are crazy and real trouble makers however we had to see for ourselves. When we got to the town it was really hot and on sitting down to have lunch we were joined by 2 monkeys who lay out on the tile floor of resturant to cool down while the owner finally got one out the other would run in and lie down cooling itself. This provided much amusement for us but not for her.
We ran into a guy in the main square who told us that the monkeys go crazy for onion so after watching the monkeys try and pickpocket some people and steal some other peoples drinks and icecream we headed off to buy onion. Returning to the square we pulled one onion out of our bag and it was on
Attack of the monkeys
If you look carefully you can see the onion that the monkeys are holding (supplied by us) of which sent them into a crazy frenzie!
monkeys arrived from everywhere looking for onion we gave them the other 3 which were in trionas bag as they started trying to open the bag themselves to get the onion. The monkeys use the onion to clean themselves and sit in big groups rubbing onion everywhere and getting very excited. As we gave them the onion a french girl sitting near us all of a sudden had 5 monkeys on her lap and one on her head as they think that you will help them put the onion on. So we sat down and monkeys came over to us and jumped all over us letting us take some photos of our crazed monkey experience. Hopefully you are able to see what we mean by the photos.
The monkeys however get very excited by the onion rubbing and for the next hour or two run amok. Peter was talking to a lady when the monkeys ran over jumped on her and stole her glasses, the monkey then ran up a tree and put the glasses over its eyes like a person.
The monkeys then got even more excited when a dog arrived and one of the monkeys started pulling its
tail and one of them jumped on its back and started riding it around the square. The dog seemed to be having fun until another monkey started pulling it whiskers!
After the monkey craziness we had to get down to the business of booking a tour, all the tour operators in Misahulli offer similar tours with trips to various lodges around the area and another type of tour which involves building a raft and camping etc.
We eventually chose to do- thats right- an ADVENTURE TOUR!! Of which involved a 7 hour walk throught the jungle, building a raft, sailing the raft for 2 - 3 days, and staying with a local indigenous family for 1 and a half days. We were going to get to experience the ¨real¨ jungle and we were excited!!!
We met our guide Enrique who did not seem to interested in saying very much at all to us, and anything that he did say to us was in Spanish as apart from Ceshuan (a native language to the area) he did not speak any other language. So it seemed that it was definetly time to put our Spanish skills to
If you look carefully- you can see the monkey putting on a pair of red glasses. It stole these from a lady in the park, ran away with them and started wearing them on its head!
the test- and what a better time to do it than in the middle of a jungle with a complete stranger! But we were ready for an adventure and this was just adding to the excietment of it all!!
So we set off to start our walk which did not really follow any kind of track but was more of a jungle bashing expedition. We were curious why there was not a proper track since this was a proper tour and hence would have other people walking this way in the past. Then Enrique informed us that we were the first people to do this tour in four years!! We figured that it was because not everyone is up for an adventure like us....
The walk itself was amazing, hot, tiring, exhilarating, long and definetly worth it. We did not really see many or any animals along the way, but we did get a very good idea about how muddy and thick the jungle is.
Eventually we came to a clearing where some kind of a raised wooden platform stood- this was to be our camp for the first night. Enrique and his son (who was our helper) disappered down
Monkey taking a ride
This dog seemed to hang out everyday in this park and get terrorised by monkeys. I think that he found it a lot of fun?
to the river near by to get some water (we later discovered), whilst they were gone we heard a motor canoe come by and then stop. We were about to go and investigate when Enrique jumped out from a bush and told us to keep low and quiet. We were told that they were native Indians. Apparently that was enough of an explanation as to why we were hiding... Eventually they left, and we were allowed to talk again! That was when Enrique decided to tell us about two missionaries who arrived at one of the local communities in the area by a helicopter 18 years ago. When the helicopter came to pick them up the next day- they had both been stabbed to death by the local native Indians- and not just any native Indians but the ones who we were going to go and stay with.....
We awoke bright and early- ready to build a raft! Although it turned out that not too much raft building was to be done by us. I think that it is because they needed the raft built some time that year- and we were not experienced raft builders
The monkeys even had criminals living among them, they opened bags and picked pockets.
like Enrique and his son. But we helped where we could- we carried logs, we stripped bark from the trees and we supervised everything else (an important job!!)
When the raft was built we all hopped on and started to float down the river. This was far more relaxing then the jungle walk!
After around an hour we pulled into a beach which was to be our camp site for the second night.
Day Three, Four and Five
Rafting! We continued to slowly and camly head down street on our well constructed raft. Along the way we saw two river otters, unfortunately they were way to fast to get onto camera- but still excellent to see them. We were also taken on short jungle walks where we learnt about making traps (an essential skill for true adventurers), and different plant uses (i.e for medicines, drinking, eating etc).
In the afternoon on the fourth day we arrived at the local indigenous families home- where we were to stay for the next two nights. The place was called Dayano and used to be the local hospital for the area. We were staying in the old hospital which now had a
This dog loved the monkeys I dont know why?
family living in it.
Everybody in the family was very welcoming and tried to make us feel at home. The people here speak Huarani (a native language) and some spoke spanish aswell. All of the kids could speak Spanish although they all spoke it very quickly with a Huarani accent and some Huarani words chucked in- this made them kind of difficult to understand. The kids were definetly the best part about visiting this family- they were enthusiastic to show us everthing and tell us about everything. There favourite game was playing with the blow gun- of which they made us join in at every opportunity! They especially liked Peter as he had no trouble holding the blow gun- where as Triona and the kids could not lift it properly because it was very heavy. They would pull him off into the jungle because they saw a bird that he could shoot for them. Unfortunately for the kids as Pete did not want to kill the native wildlife of Ecuador- he would always slightly aim off and miss on purpose. This was especially so when the kids found a frog and decided to practise there blow gun skills on it!
Sunset in the Jungle
The boats are used to move everything up and down the rivers
Cultural differences were definetly apprent here- especially in regards to the rolls that men and women play within the family. As far as we could tell if you were a man your had to occassionly hunt, lie around, get given chica (a local alcaholic drink) and wait around for someone to give you food to eat. However if you were a women you had to carry everything, cook, clean, serve the men- and do it all whilst pregnant and holding a small child. We saw a man walk past a lady from the same family who was very pregnant and carrying a small child and a basket of fish whilst she had to scale a small muddy cliff to get back to the house.
We did not really agree with these gender roles but were not to bothered by it as it was not really affecting us apart from Peter always been addressed and not Triona. However when we were served lunch and all of the men in the room were served and all of the women were skipped over- this gender role issue became very personal when Triona had to ask Peter to share his food with her!
Camp day 1
It was an adventure tour with no walls and only 2m away from the jungle.
This day was spent trying to get back to Mishualli. We were lucky that we were trying to do this on a Friday which is also market day in one of the small towns for all of the local communities in the area. This meant that we were able to get a lift on the families canoe up to the closest road where we were to wait for a trcuk to take us to a town where we could get a bus to Mishualli. The canoe road felt like riding on a motorbike with 10 other people and all of your belongings in the dark with no lights. It was scarey yet exciting! It was particualrly interesting when the canoe hit a heap of rocks and came to a sudden stop with a loud cracking noise and water pouring into the bottom. To this, the whole family started to laugh- so we joined in although inside we were freaking out!
When we reached the road we waited for our truck. When it came we jumped into the back and relised that this trcuk trip was not going to be that bad as we had enough room to
our only defense
As our guides dissappeared to ask if we could cut down some trees we were left to fend for ourselves.
hold on properly. However it soon became evident when more and more people started squashing into the truck with all of there belongings and people started hanging onto all sides of the truck- that this was going to be far from a pleasant experience! After about an hour of drunken men refusing to beleive that we could not understand Huarani and proceeding to tell us long stories about something, and of little old women clutching on to you, kids sitting under you, bags on top of your feet, trees hitting you on the head whenever we came to a low plant- we arrived in the market town!
When we arrived back in Mishualli we walked straight into a hotel and booked a jungle lodge for 2 days and 2 nights to start the following morning. Then we went and had our first shower in 6 days!
After arriving at the lodge it quickly became apparent that this was going to be a far more civilised jungle experience than the one we had previously encountered with motorised canoe available to take us on our jungle expeditions. However the whole experience was honestly a bit boring compared to
The raft lacking something
After dragging these trees out of the jungle it was time for a rest before watching it being built.
what we had been doing and we soon found the big time gaps in the program a bit annoying. The whole experience was more relaxing than anything else whcih worked well for us as our previous jungle adventure was very full on.
As you may have worked out we have left the jungle and we arent typing this blog into a tree, in search of new adventures we have booked into a 4 day kayak school which starts tomorrow.
There are more photos below