The real adventure begins! On Day 10, we traveled from Latacunga to the Amazon jungle. After our bus ride, we loaded ourselves and our luggage into long, wide, wooden canoes to travel 10 minutes down the river to our hotel, Liana Lodge. We were immediately impressed by the beauty, wilderness and diversity. Our hotel was a series of wood cabins with no electricity. There was only power in a main hut for the kitchen and office. We ate our first meal there by candlelight and then played a few games around the fire. Nicole led us in a round of Mafia while Lili and Erica shared a few riddles with us.
We started our first morning in the Amazon with community service at a nearby school. The school was building a room for the teachers and they needed our help carrying wood from beside the river up to the school. Carly Da and Jason teamed up when they realized it was a little easier to carry two planks of wood together than one each. Carly Do and Matt did not stop working all morning as they too helped carry wood up the hill. Jeremy and Marc enjoyed Amazoonica, a wildlife reserve, on one of our breaks while Sydney helped us out by taking lots of pictures. In the afternoon, we had a tour of Amazoonica. Melodie took lots of pictures of the animals as Pedro (Zach J’s nickname) made friends with one of the monkeys. Tess and Emily were walking on the path as a turtle came out of the forest and crossed the path in front of them. Next, we enjoyed a leisurely ride down the river in innertubes. Alyssa and Zach C. really enjoyed the ride. After dinner, Señor Saul, the President of the community came to visit us at Liana Lodge. He thanked us for our community service help and answered our many questions about local schools, tourism and transportation in the river.
Here’s a few words from Pedro about his experience in the Amazon: Upon our arrival, our spirits were high. We took elongated boats down the river to a hidden lodge. We then received our keys and hit the vegetated pathway. The rooms were lacking electricity but sure did not lack class. We hit the main lodge for some grub which was delicious due to the lack of preservatives. As night fell upon us, the matches came out and we resorted to candles as our only source of light. The great outdoors murmured away and we slept like babies. The next day we went to the zoo for our main purpose, community service. We saw the gratitude of the workers as we helped them carry wood and clear space for the house– work we completed with smiles on our faces. In the end ‘The Zon’ was a blast, between the serene feeling of being cut off form the real world and the adventure adrenaline-rushing feeling we all experienced. We not only bettered our selves, but ‘The Zon’ community as well.
We returned to our same service project the next morning. Sadie, Elana and Jared continued to carry the wood planks up the stairs as Nora and Mandie helped dig holes for the foundation of the building. After lunch, we visited and learned about a local Quichuwa community. Riley and Sydney had designs drawn on their faces with dye from a red fruit. We practiced using a blow gun and Marc and Erica were both lucky enough to hit the wooden owl target. We returned to the hotel to enjoy some time by the river. Melodie, Riley and Zach C. tried their hand at paddling a low-riding traditional canoe and were successful at paddling against the river’s strong current. On Saturday, our group celebrated its second birthday- Erica‘s 17th! Members of the local Chichuwa tribe presented a dance to us at Liana Lodge before we departed for Banos. They played their own drum, violin and guitar to accompany the dancing. We then traveled to our next stop- Banos. Our hotel has a great pool, hot tub and spa that many of our trip members enjoyed, especially Steph. We celebrated Erica‘s birthday at an Italian restaurant and dancing at Freeze Discoteca. Nora and Carly Da danced the whole time and some of the girls got Matt up and dancing with them.
We rounded off the weekend in Banos with a white water rafting trip. We suited up in our wet suits, helmets and lifejackets and divided into boats based on desired ‘extreme rafting’ levels. The water seemed a little cold at first but as soon as we were paddling, we warmed up and enjoyed the ride. We pulled the boats to the shore at one point to snap some pictures under a beautiful waterfall before continuing down the waves. It was an exciting, thrilling morning and, even the trip members who started off the morning a little nervous, were laughing and screaming for more at the end. The trip members explored downtown Banos in the afternoon and found some candy, snacks, and souvenirs in the little market and surrounding shops.
We’ll write again soon to tell you all about the unique, exciting wildlife that the Galapagos Islands has to offer. Take care families and friends!
The Westcoast Blooger