After leaving our bags in the lobby of the hostel for Giovanny to deal with, we headed out for a day of rafting with a local company. The trek down to the river was pretty intense with no discernible path. We geared up, did the safety and technique instruction and loaded the rafts. The river comes from the mountains and is very clean and quite cold. We were wet in no time. The class 3 rapids were intense enough to make it interesting but not bad enough to scare us to death. Good thing as I'd told the girls it wouldn't be too bad. The scenery was gorgeous as the river flows through a part of the jungle few people ever go.
We stopped for lunch and the guides put together a delicious lunch of make your own burritos complete with humus, different beans, veggie mix and guacomole. Our guide, Alex, said his mom made the chocolate cake. We told him to blame her when the raft sunk as it was delicious.
After lunch we hit the rapids again. Several people got dunked and the other raft managed to dump the entire crew. We helped rescue the paddles and their guide righted the boat and we carried on.
It had been cloudy most of the day and by the time we hit the end it was pouring and we were cold. We took turns (girls first of course!)going behind a building to change into dry clothes and headed off to our next destination.
The jungle lodge is wonderful. There's a room for the girls, one for the boys and the three couples each have their own room. It doesn't really have walls, just a thatched roof and knee walls, ½ door and bunks with mosquito netting. At night it's completely dark as there's no electricity and you can't see the moon for the trees. We get candle light dinner and there's a candle in our rooms. The jungle is plenty noisy with several waterfalls nearby, frogs, crickets and other night creatures. We got to see a tarantula too.
The family who runs the place prepared us a tilapia barbecued in leaves, a tasty vegetable soup, rice and plantain along with cinnamon tea. After dinner we sat around and played a silly game that had us all laughing and we were introduced to a very large larva that the host family showed us how to eat. There were no takers. We'll see who eats one for breakfast as they've promised to cook the Ecuadorian delicacy for us. Yuck.
February 17; Election day. Everyone votes. If you don't, you get fined. Giovanny couldn't vote as he's no where near his riding but he went to the nearest station and signed in to prove he showed up. He'll still get a fine but it's not as high.
After breakfast we headed to the river which took a good hour walking on the road. It's just upriver from where we rafted yesterday. Mike jumped off the cliff along with a few others. I didn't dare but I DID shoot the rapids and he didn't. So there. The water was cold and refreshing and the scenery gorgeous. After a couple of hours of swimming we walked all the way back. We certainly were ready for lunch and hoping the chicken we ate was the same one that woke us up this morning at 4 am. I doubt it.
Some took a siesta but we headed into the jungle and enjoyed a pond Delphine had created by blocking off a stream. Again, the scenery is amazing and looks like something out of a movie.
Next we donned “wellies” and enjoyed a 2.5 hour hike through the jungle where we learned about medicinal plants, panning for gold and other things about the jungle. The sun was shining and it's hot but nice and cool in the jungle. Delphine showed us how to climb a tree using a rope he'd made from some tree. 54 years old and he shimmies up 20' or so like it's nothing. We hollered at him to come down as the tree was bending and he just kept going up. Only Michael (from Denmark) could even come close to getting any where.
The lodge was started by G Adventures. Delphine's family owns the land and used to cut the trees and hunt for a living. Now it's an eco lodge that provides a jungle experience for tourists and locals as well as educating on preservation of the habitat and uses of medicinal plants. The meals were excellent and all done with local foods. Even the material used to build the huts came from the jungle.
After dinner we learned about various cultural activities like the chicha celebrations and Mike and I got remarried. Several volunteers allowed Dephine who is also a Shaman to help them with various ailments. Mike got a back treatment. He treated many for bug bites.
Dephine's 4 year oldon, Luis, also know as Peppi Lucho, was a great source of entertainment for our entire stay. Larry (renamed Lorenzo) gave him balloons which entertained him (and some of us) for hours. He even brought them down to the pond and made us play with him there. I could just picture Jackson doing the same.
After much chatting and laughter we went to bed, exhausted after another great day in the jungle. It poured rain all night. Apparently the night before when I thought Mike's rolling over in the other bed rocked the whole cabin, we actually felt an earthquake. So, I finally got to experience one and didn't even know it.