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South America » Ecuador » East » Shiripuno River
August 23rd 2006
Published: August 26th 2006
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(FYI, it´s okay to air guitar a little Guns and Roses in the real jungle.)

So I´m writing all of this after getting back from the rainforest because of the whole no electricity/internet thing, but I want to keep a day by day account because it will be more interesting for you all and I.

Wednesday was get-to-the-jungle-day, which was quite an ordeal. We arrived in the morning in the rather hot, dusty and ugly town of Coca. Lizzy got lots of stares because it´s an oil town, meaning there aren´t too many young mujeres around too often.

We then met our guide Jose, who was our age and looked like a stoner, but spoke good English, Spanish and Quechua (the local indigenous language). We met up with the rest of our group (a Spanish couple, and a rather proper couple from England) and departed for the jungle. I´ll skip the four hour truck ride that followed. We then got onto our means of transportation for the four hour journey down the Amazon - a metal canoe with an outboard motor on the back.

By the way, the river is technically called the Shiripuno and is only a tributary of the Amazon. But hell, I came all this way, and it flows into the Amazon, so I´m just going to call it the Amazon.

So we sit on wooden benches with cushions on top and are driven down the river towards our lodge. If it rains, we´re going to get wet. Also, we set off at about 3.30pm, and we know it´s going to get dark by about 6.30pm, so we´re wondering how exactly we´re going to make our way for the last hour considering the canoe has no lights.

Rain wasnt a problem, but the dark was. As the light faded and faded, we wondered exactly how we would navigate the river and avoid grounding the boat, never mind all the trees that had fallen into the river. There are two answers. The first is "slowly." The second, though, is that our boat driver was just a genius. Until we came back upstream the following day, we didn´t really realize what an incredible feat of navigation it was to avoid all the obstacles and get us to our destination in the pitch black.

By the way, I dont think Ive ever seen so many stars. There were no lights anywhere for miles and miles, so it was just incredible being able to stare up at the stars, see the milky way and also different constellations than those in the northern hemisphere.

We finally arrived at our lodge. Apart from the guides and the boat man, the only people at the lodge were the cook and her three adorable grandchildren. The lodge consisted of a large hut for dining in and lounging in, and the cabins that we slept in. There were no windows or doors, and although there were roofs overhead, everything else was open to the elements, namely heat and bugs. There were cockroaches in all of our rooms, but a lot of them went away when we lit candles. And the mosquito nets did a relatively good job of allowing sleep undisturbed (although both Lizzy and one of the English people found large pellet shaped turds on their beds somehow...)

It was crazy going to sleep where we were. It was totally totally black. You couldnt see the mosquito nets which were only a few inches away. But you could hear bugs flying and lizards scampering as well as crickets, grasshoppers and owls chirping and singing. We were totally connected with nature.



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