Into the thick of it
Tena Travel Blog› entry 12 of 74 › view all entries
The next morning after our breakfast (which consisted of a lot of yuca, a potato-ish veggie) we began our long hike into the Rainforest, learning about medicinal and poisonous plants along the way. The jungle has a cure for everything, any ailment imaginable… There´s even a birth control plant! The terrain was often rough and it certainly was some exercise for my soft city ass, especially since we were wearing wellies, huge heavy smelly rain ponchos, and carrying our bags. We climbed steep muddy inclines, crossed rapids full of slippery rocks, passed by intimidating anthills and skirted the edges of sharp drops into wild looking ravines. We learned about various animal traps along the way (by the way, all conversations referred to for these adventures are purely in Spanish, as none of the family spoke any English!) for lovely creatures such as anacondas and tigers, and the thought of breaking a leg or being bitten by some wild animal crossed my mind often. It was a guided tour, sure, but if we meet a tiger will it give a shit!? I was nervous as well about mosquitoes as I forgot my malaria medicine in Quito, I´m sure to the horror of all my loved ones reading this right now (don´t worry, I´m going back to Quito to collect my big bag soon from the hostel holding area, and will take it next time, I promise!) The mosquitoes weren´t nearly as bad as I thought they´d be, a welcome relief to both the American and Canadian who were both well acquainted with them.
During our walk we stopped occasionally for our guide to chop some juicy fruit off a tree, some we recognized and some we didn´t, for us to eat. Roughly 4 sweaty hours later we reached our destination of a cave decked out with hammocks, tents, a cooking area, even a toilet off to one side! There were 3 guys from the tribe there plus the one woman who always prepared our meals, plus the 3 children who had danced for us the night before, 2 boys around 10 yrs old and the cutest little girl of around 2. The kids were full of energy and constantly running amok, in America I´m sure they would be branded “ADD” and drugged to submissiveness, but I much prefer these lively bright eyed curious little people than some lazy drone child stoned out in front of their television any day.
When we arrived the 1st order of business was to swing out over a high ravine on a rope tied to a dangling vine a la Tarzan, which naturally was intimidating but the kids wouldn´t take no for an answer, and gladly demonstrated numerous times how much fun they had doing this. In the end we both gave in, what a rush! Next was to “shower” in the waterfall that cascaded down one side of the cave, and after our hot sweaty walk the cold water felt so refreshing, it was worth the perilous climb to reach it. After our bath there was not much to do, so we just sat around chatting with Nixon, the 20 yr old son of our guide. Karine is a step ahead of me in her Spanish skills, but she´s been here nearly a month and already speaks French and English so I didn´t get discouraged. I however, regretted numerous times ever having studied French, for every time I tried to speak Spanish at least one French word would creep in.
We went to sleep at around 8 pm, and I discovered that sleeping in a hammock is not nearly as comfortable as one would imagine. These ones at least had no support to keep them wide, so the result is an extremely narrow hole in which you fall into with limited space to move. A hugh storm brewed outside and soon the night was full of lightening and pouring rain, yet we slept sheltered and fairly well, considering!