ted & pamela

“Comfort in the Jungle”: Ecuador Day 2

July 1st, 2010 by Ted

*Written 2010-07-01; posted 2010-07-07 due to WIFI access! [slowly catching up]*

The lodge we’re staying at, Arco Iris, bills itself as “Jungle Comfort”. It hasn’t quite lived up to its name.

In addition to the problems we found yesterday — no hot water, broken lights, lots of mosquitos, etc. — this morning, we found that the cold water didn’t work either. After cleaning up as best we could, we wandered over to breakfast half an hour late (7:30am). Pamela said, “no hay agua!” We ate breakfast first; after breakfast, there was a trickle of water, enough to wash up.

After washing up, we went on an hour-long canoe ride to Pompeya, a small town in the jungle, followed by a wait on the shore for a car, followed by a car ride to Laguna Limoncocha.

limoncochaWe rented a boat from two guys sitting at the dock. It looked like all they did was sit around waiting for someone to come by to rent a boat. We took what looked like the only seaworthy vessel in their fleet of ~8 boats, and they drove us around the lagoon.

Hector pointed out a lot of monkeys and birds along the shore of the lagoon. We put our binoculars to good use, and learned that Pamela has better eyes than I. Hector has way better eyes than both of us.

We landed on the shore at the other side of the lagoon about an hour later, dropped off our stuff at a small encampment of buildings, and headed into the jungle for a hike. We passed a banana tree, various trees that looked like they came from Avatar, without the luminescence, and some trees with medicinal uses that Hector pointed out.

Hector also picked up an army ant and had me hold out my thumb. He then held the ant near my finger, and the ant pinched me. Ow.
Ow ow ow. The ant drew blood, but Hector said that it was only because I didn’t hold still…

Eventually we reached a really big Kapok tree that Hector said was considered sacred. It was a few hundred years old, “medium-sized”, and tens of feet higher than the other trees in the rainforest, completely emerging from the canopy. We thought it looked Avatar-ish. We took a lot of pictures while walking all the way around it, and learned that it was Victor’s first time there too.

On our way out, we stopped at the banana tree. Hector hacked it down with his machete to get at the bananas. The tree brushed pamela as it fell down; good thing she didn’t get squashed. Hector started weaving a basket from another plant nearby to carry the bananas. While he did so, it suddenly started to pour. Mucha lluvia. =(

leaf_umbrellaWith Victor’s help, Pamela and I covered ourselves with big leaves from a nearby tree as umbrellas. Hector finished his basket, filled it with bananas, and told Victor to carry the rest of the bananas from the tree on his shoulder. We hurried back to the encampment.

Now under shelter at least, we ate lunch. Pamela took a nap in a hammock while we waited awhile for rain to subside, but it refused. Eventually, we gave up waiting for the rain to stop, put on ponchos supplied for us, and headed back to the boat. We soggily boated back to the other side of the lagoon, hitched a ride in a truck on its way to Pompeya, during which time Pamela talked to the friendly truck driver, and got back into our motorized canoe waiting for us under Fernando’s care at Pompeya. Apparently Fernando had been sitting there waiting for us all day.

We boated back to the lodge, cold and wet. Only 2 of 3 pistons in the motor were working, and we were going against the current. It thus took us about 1:50 to get back, instead of the 1 hour it took going the other way. Pamela read a newspaper article and tried to speak to Fernando, but he wasn’t very talkative.

Back at the lodge, we rushed for the toilet. After climbing our 120 stairs, we were told by Alexander (the owner) that we were moved to a new cabana where the water and the shower worked. At the new cabana (same password for the door), we found that all of our stuffed had been seemingly transposed from the previous room. Everything was in the same place, including our still-wet laundry.

Unfortunately, the toilet was full of poop. Eeewww. And it wouldn’t flush. So, we went back to the old cabana to use the toilet and reported the toilet problems to Alexander. We discovered that the old cabana had been stripped of its linens, toilet paper, etc; apparently, they don’t have enough to furnish two cabanas… but electricity and (cold) water both worked in the new cabana!

We took turns taking cold showers. Ted had a chill from the wet canoe ride and hid in bed. Pamela tried to warm him up until we were summoned to dinner.

Dinner consisted of salty noodles, beef, plantains, fruit, and corn. They gave us a bottle of champagne for our honeymoon, too. We finished the whole bottle with Hector’s help and headed back to our cabana, with Pamela now a bit tipsy.

We cleaned up, got ready for bed, and zzzzz…

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