We left our very comfortable digs at the hotel in Quito for a drive back to the airport for a thirty minute flight to Coca. From there we took a three hour boat ride into the Amazon to a lodge with dubious wi if that turned out to be quite good. As our guide feared our flight was late, so we had a great time in the First Class lounge courtesy of our Priority Pass. We made some of our fellow travelers jealous, since they do not have it.
Along the way to the airport we stopped at another market. Our guide gave us a $1 and told us to buy him something he would not recognize. There was so much there that WE did not recognize. We bought a package of dried blood, but it did not stump him. The lady we bought it from was quite mystified why we wanted it. They use dried blood regularly in soups. This was a market that tourists do not go to, so the vendors were not enthused about getting their photos taken. Our guide Celso also took us to a produce stand and we sampled many wonderful mystery foods. Great fun!
The 40 minute flight was quite turbulent as we left Quito; all those volcanoes were generating updrafts and jostled us around. Eventually things smoothed out and we had traveled from 9,000 feet in altitude to about 900 and we were in Coca
Coca became a major town in support of the petroleum industry. As oil prices ebbed and flowed, the fortunes of the town ebbed and flowed as well. After retrieving our luggage, we stopped in a grocery store about the size of our garage to buy treats for the families we will visit and the school children who will meet with us even though school in not in session this month. Following our guide's advice I bought a bag of salt and noodles. It is nice not to arrive at someone's home empty handed. While my normal go to is a bottle of wine, it is good to bring people something they can use.
Then we got in a long, slender boat for the almost three hour ride up the Napo River to our lodge. Most people around here are employed by the petroleum industry. They need the work, but weren't happy to observe what this filthy industry was doing to their beloved rain forest. Some of them decided to open an eco lodge and that is where we are. We are in the middle of their community and the entire village works at our lodge. Things have gone so well, a second lodge has been built and some outsiders have been brought in for all the work that needs to be done. Our rooms are not A/C, but have everything else we need including mosquito nets. As expected it is ungodly humid here and the temperatures are in the 80º's.
Before dinner we went on a boat ride to an area where no one lives and saw squirrel and howler monkeys swinging through the trees. The squirrel monkeys eat bugs so they are a special favorite of mine. The vegetation is so thick it is hard to spot animals and I'd guess that's how they prefer it. We have our guide and a local guide as spotters, so they will help us see who is hiding from us.