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Published: March 20th 2014
DAYS 27 7am mini van pick-up to get to the Quito bus station for a 6 hr local bus trip to Tena which is a hub town for the north east region. Stopped for lunch before proceeding to the jungle.
The local buses were one of our security concerns before the trip but were quickly eased. In all cases our luggage will be stored in a separate under bus compartment from start to finish of our journeys & therefore we only have to manage hand luggage. The bus was very comfy & had a wide screen TV playing crap movies dubbed in Spanish, thankfully there was plenty to see out the windows.Once we cleared Quito (both slum & affluent areas) we took a mountain road nth-east through lush country mainly following a pass through massive Andean mountains on both sides with a huge drop on the right to fast running streams. Basic dwellings occasionally dotted the sides of the road & any semi-level piece of lower hill land but still at precarious slopes (seemed to be dairy cattle farmers). Even higher slopes were used for cultivation.
As we climbed to 4000 mtrs the rain started to fall torrentially &
we started worrying about our jungle stay for 3 days but Patcha Mamma (Mother Nature) was with us once again and the rain virtually stopped once over the peak.
After lunch our luggage was transferred to 4WD's for a 45 min drive to Puerto Misahualli to pick-up gumboots and walk to the Rio Napo banks for a 5 minute canoe ride to our indigenous community stay at Shiripuno.
The community comprises 50 families & 200 children. In 2005 the women determined that their whole community life was under threat. The men were heading away to work on nearby oil projects, so they started with some low level projects around sustainable living and quickly expanded, the objective to help preserve their whole way of living, culture, rain forest, food collection, language etc by offering tourists an authentic experience of indigenous life. Oil (backed from Brazil) is bringing quick change with electricity a recent addition to some parts of the community & good mobile reception in seemingly the middle of the jungle. We have no lights or power in our little thatched roof hut, no hot water or flushing toilets, so it's candles and torchlight.
While we are not
naive enough to think that the life as presented is exactly as it was 100's of years ago, the women are proud of their heritage and are passionate to maintain it. We finished off the evening with a dance & music festival originally on a sandy river beach with a huge log fire as as backdrop but had to move inside shortly after into their ceremonial hall due to rain. The women performed traditional dances while the men play the music. During & after the performance we were offered some alcoholic firewater & increased the happy mood to enable the entry of the tarantula to see who was more daring in allowing a tarantula to crawl over your face and head and into your mouth. Ruth bravely took the face challenge but not for me.
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