Thursday, October 17, 2013

Welcome to the Jungle

Last night, we almost didn't make it to the jungle. My friend Liza hadn't paid yet because she just arrived in Quito, so she needed to withdraw money. I took her around to three ATMs, but none of them worked. We figured Ovi would know where to find an ATM, so we headed back to the hostel around 7 to get help. Ovi and Liza spent two hours in New Town trying to find an ATM with money. They were unsuccessful. Next, Liza tried to Western Union the money to Ovi, but since she used her card at so many ATMs, even that wouldn't work. Luckily, Ovi trusted us, and let us get on the bus and go to an ATM once we arrived Lago Agria. The ATM there did have money, so we were able to pay there and continue on to Guacamayo Ecolodge via two buses and one canoe. 

The buses here remind me of go carts. Every time the driver presses the breaks, you hear a loud wooshing sound and can physically feel the brakes going into action. Other than the breaking, the buses we took were pretty comfy, and I was able to sleep on and off for most of the night.

At 5 AM, we were abruptly awakened by the driver telling us to get off the bus. Still in a haze of sleep, I tried to ask him where we were and why we had to get off. All I gleaned from the conversation was that our passports needed to be checked by the police. Groggy, I thought maybe we mistakenly hopped onto the wrong bus, and had some how crossed the border into Columbia. When the policeman handed me back my passport without stamping it, I was relieved to find out we were still in Ecuador, and this was just a random check point. I headed back onto the bus and quickly fell asleep.

After the first eight hour bus ride, we caught a cab with another tourist headed to the same destination. Miriam split the taxi fare with us and quickly became our new friend. We all grabbed breakfast at our hotel meeting point, then caught a second, two and a half hour, bus ride to the edge of a river, where we caught a canoe. At that location, I bumped into many of my friends from Community that had gone to the jungle this past week. It was nice to get a chance to chat with them about their trip. I also found out my friend Stephanie from NY is also staying at Guacamayo. Small world.

The canoe ride was amazing. We spotted three different species of monkeys, various birds, and enormous, fluorescent blue butterflies.

After a quick nap under the mosquito netting in my cabana, we took another canoe ride, this time to a lagoon where we hopped out of the boat and into the warm water for a swim. From the water, we watched the sun set and listened to howling monkeys. I couldn't believe I was swimming in the middle of the rainforest. On the ride back, we saw a cayman pop his head out of the water and spotted a sloth high up in the trees.

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