Wednesday, April 7, 2010
Since 95% of Ecuador is Catholic, pretty much the entire country had a vacation for Easter last week. Though FUDIS wasn’t closed, I took some time off to travel. TO THE AMAZON. Hello, fulfillment of a lifelong dream.
It’s nearly impossible to describe how amazing it was to be cruising along the Cuyabeno River and seeing spider monkeys leaping from tree to tree, or spying bats sleeping upside down on a trunk, but I’ll do my best to give you some highlights:
We spent our first afternoon swimming in the Laguna Grande and took in a really spectacular sunset along with the birds and pink dolphins. Later that night, we were told that we were going to look for caimans. So back we went to the same Laguna. Um, really? Lo and behold, there were caimans aplenty, and one got rather close to our canoe. Possibly a little too close for my own comfort, but our guide Jose is some kind of caiman whisperer and made sure that it didn’t jump onto my lap.
Most of the trip was spent knee-high in mud, trekking through the forest looking for every kind of Amazonian beast imaginable. We saw tons of birds and insects the size of my hand and monkeys and butterflies. But one of the coolest things we saw was right above our heads at the dinner table one night: a snake swallowing a bat. Who needs the Discovery Channel?
One of the things I was most excited about was going piranha fishing in the river. Alas, my fishing skills are no better in the southern hemisphere as they are at home. I caught nothing, which is just as well because later that night a fish jumped into our boat and all I could do was scream “IT’S A FISH! IT’S A FISH! OH MY GOD IT’S A FISH!” hysterically until Olga kicked it out. Granted, we had just come back from a night hike and I was sufficiently creeped out already, but I clearly am worthless in a panic situation and would make a horrible fishermen.
So maybe I’m not exactly cut out for life in the jungle (and I have the bug bites to prove it), but it was an incredible trip only made better by the company. It doesn’t get much better than sitting around the table playing poker by candlelight with a room-temp Pilsener in your hand and a tarantula hanging out on the beam directly above your head.