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Published: December 7th 2009
We left Papallacta in the direction of Tena. We had had enough of mountains and high altitude, as I (Ram) realised that my lungs cannot really aclimatize to the altitude. We thought that a change in direction and a detour of the Andes via Tena and then to continue back up to Baños would be a good idea. Liz didn’t resist even though she really wanted to take the horse ride trip around Cotapaxi. We thought that maybe from Baños we hop to Cotapaxi later. When we arrived in Tena we met Stephanie, a Swiss girl, who joined us at the hostal we stayed and later on became our trip partner for about 2 weeks. As Ram primarily prefer to do trips without a guide he was happy to find a routes map in the hostal ‘Limoncocha’, that suggested some trails from the village called Misahualli. He had read about it before in the Viva book ‘Hiking and climbing in Ecuador’ thus he got quite excited about another DIY trek. Still just to be sure, we went to see 2 trip operators to hear options and costs, this consolidated Ram's confidence that DIY would be more fun. Liz and Stephanie shared
the same opinion and thus the next morning we were on the six o´clock bus to Misahualli.
On the way there the architecture changes gradually from concrete and mortar buildings to wooden huts scattered in the green thick vegetation along the road. In Misahualli we had a nice morning surprise - monkeys, free and running around with no fear of man. Well we already ticked off one box. It was nice to be there in the early morning. We saw the locals in their party dresses waiting in the square for the bus to Tena - there was a festival that day. We hadn’t found a place to eat breakfast yet and we already had two offers for canoe trips. Whilst the girls got a review of the trip options I watched the monkeys jumping around from trees to shaded canopies to the bus stop shelters and back on the trees trying to grab a fruit or a sandwich from the people who sat and waited for the bus. As we were sitting waiting for breakfast in one of the cafes around the square the monkeys got braver and one in particular sneaked up behind Liz´s shoulder, to her
horror and excitment it stole some sugar from the table. It was exciting getting so close to these monkeys. Though it is not really in the wild it is not in a zoo.
We headed off to the bank of the river, passing the trip organisers, ahead to the place where motor canoe taxis took some locals, here we bargained a price for a short 15 minutes journey to Puca Chicta. On a pebbelled shore we landed and followed directions of the canoe driver into the bush, I called it a jungle… It wasn´t really a jungle but a thick bush with some cacao and plantain trees among other kinds of shrubs, butterflies flew around impressing us with their amazing vivid colours. I was afraid that a snake would cross my way but probably the little noise we made was enough to frighten them. We slowly realised that the place was actually cultivated and that the trail we were walking along was one of many at that grove, which made me feel better. Another river crossing and we heard the noise of kids playing ball. This was our first encounter with what we thought the book call indeginous people.
They didnt really fit the image we had in mind but they were surely shocked to see us, yet very friendly and after a short conversation we invited them to join us to Ventura Grapa where we hoped to see some birds. It was hot, the sun was harsh and our water slowly disappeared ( I had to give the kids something to drink). It’s amazing how these kids walk bare foot on the dirt road whilst we are with our hiking boots. They run, they jump on and off the trees, nothing stops them. We felt quite pathetic. The community of Ventura Grapa comprises maybe six dwelings - no real doors and windows applied - nicely constructed in timber with a straw roof . As we learnt later this is a typical inhabitant in the Amazonia region and it repeats itself deeper into the jungle. The big difference between this one and others deeper inside , is the exposure to tourists. These kids obviously were aware of this concept as they asked for money when we said goodbye - a little disappointing but we expected it. We headed on to our next destination passing some more communities seeing more
wonderful butterflies and lovely huts and as the heat of the day took it’s toll, we realised that the amount of water we had left wasn´t sufficient for the whole route and decided to go back. We were lucky to catch a pick-up truck - oh, how lucky we were, thank you thank you thank you - and about half an hour later we were back in Misahualli. It was early afternoon and many of the locals were on the river bank, the beach, swimming tanning and playing with the monkeys. We joined them for a lovely bath to finish a great day.
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