Carlos Home and a School (May 16)
The land along the Napo River is owned by the native people from the river edge and back almost as far as one can venture into the rain forest. They build their homes closer to the river, but not so close that the high water during the rainy season (we are in the rainy season right now!) does not wash them away. We visited with Carlos who first led a jungle walk in a loop which then ended up at his house. Along the way we sampled cacao in a pod that when split open revealed a few dozen white slimy chunks with the bean in the center. To make chocolate, the beans are dried and then ground to a fine powder. We also learned about banana trees and the fact that a banana tree produces only one bunch of bananas and then is removed from the plantation and a new tree is planted from roots. A tree that is ready with ripe fruit is hit with stick in its midsection and the fruit and the top of the tree come tumbling down without injuring the bananas. Chickens strut around the house which is raised above the ground on stilts. It is a simple life supported by the river and the jungle.
We continued our introduction to river life by visiting a local school. Education is free up to 6th grade (12 year olds) and the school bus is a river boat! The kids were very cute and were amazed by our digital cameras. There were many “selfies” taken with the kids and our group members.
Kayaking (May 16)
After lunch and a siesta, we headed out in the motorized boat with kayaks packed in the back. We found a sandbar near a slower moving branch of the Napo. The kayaks were sit-on tops, double and not very maneuverable in the swift current. All three couples tried to get launched and while two of them made it into the slower current (one of them by being towed by the motorized canoe), Tom and Anne decided to abandon the effort. One couple changed the front and back paddlers and the other couple quit before going the distance. It was not a pleasant experience to say the least. I guess we are spoiled by our highly maneuverable sea kayaks.